vendredi 16 juin 2017

Martian Crater Provides Reminder of Apollo Moonwalk

NASA - Mars Exploration Rover B (MER-B) patch.

June 16, 2017

(Click on the image for enlarge)

Image above: NASA's Opportunity Mars rover passed near this small, relatively fresh crater in April 2017, during the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 16 mission to the moon. The rover team chose to call it "Orion Crater," after the Apollo 16 lunar module. The rover's Panoramic Camera (Pancam) recorded this view. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity passed near a young crater this spring during the 45th anniversary of Apollo 16's trip to Earth's moon, prompting a connection between two missions.

Opportunity's science team informally named the Martian feature "Orion Crater." The name honors the Apollo 16 lunar module, Orion, which carried astronauts John Young and Charles Duke to and from the surface of the moon in April 1972 while crewmate Ken Mattingly piloted the Apollo 16 command module, Casper, in orbit around the moon. Orion is also the name of NASA's new spacecraft that will carry humans into deep space and sustain them during travel beyond Earth orbit.

 Mars Exploration Rover (Opportunity). Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Opportunity's Panoramic Camera (Pancam) took component images for this view of Orion Crater on April 26, 2017. The crater is about 90 feet (27 meters) wide and estimated to be no older than 10 million years.

"It turns out that Orion Crater is almost exactly the same size as Plum Crater on the moon, which John Young and Charles Duke explored on their first of three moonwalks taken while investigating the lunar surface using their lunar rover," said Opportunity science-team member Jim Rice, of the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona.

Rice sent Duke the Pancam mosaic of Mars' Orion Crater, and Duke responded, "This is fantastic. What a great job! I wish I could be standing on the rim of Orion like I was standing on the rim of Plum Crater 45 years ago."

(Click on the image for enlarge)

Image above: This view of a 90-foot-wide, relatively fresh crater on Mars, "Orion Crater," combines images from the left eye and right eye of the Panoramic Camera (Pancam) on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. It appears three-dimensional when seen through blue-red glasses with the red lens on the left. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

A historical photo of Duke at Plum Crater is online at:

For more information about Opportunity's adventures on Mars, visit:

Related links:


Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity):

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Laurie Cantillo/Dwayne Brown/Tony Greicius/JPL/Guy Webster.

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