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Ticket pic of the week: Mars rover reaches crater modeled on Nevada

August 20, 2011 |  9:22 am

NASA Mars Rover Opportunity view 8-11 of Endeavour crater

Nevada on a dusty day?

No.

It's Mars just the other day as captured by NASA's surviving Mars Rover Opportunity.

You may remember Opportunity was one of twin rovers successfully landed inside ingeniously inflated bouncing balls on Mars back in 2004. They were built to endure three months of extreme temperature changes and exploring on rough terrain.

The Spirit rover was shut down just in June, seven years later. And Opportunity wanders on. It has just spent three years covering about 13 miles from the Victoria crater to the 24-mile wide Endeavour crater, above, a couple of hundred feet every solar-powered day. In Earth time that's about the same elapsed period as traveling on any L.A. freeway on Thanksgiving Friday.

Opportunity will explore Endeavour's various rock formations for as long as it can. Not a bad Made in America warranty.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, just after that holiday this year the next Mars rover, the California-constructed Curiosity, will launch from Cape Canaveral for a 255-day journey to join its mechanical siblings on the Mars surface. On its 354-million-mile trip, Curiosity will be moving along at 58,000 mph.

Or 16 miles per second. Another stat unfamiliar to freeway drivers anywhere.

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Photo: NASA /J PL-Caltech / Cornell / ASU (Mars Rover Opportunity's view of the Endeavour crater)

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