"Rub Al Khali"

      This is the Opportunity Pancam "Rub al Khali" panorama, acquired in the plains of Meridiani on sols 456 to 464 (May 6 to May 14, 2005) from a position about 2 km south of Endurance crater at a place known informally as "Purgatory Dune," where the rover was stuck in the deep fine sand for more than a month. "Rub al Khali" (translation: "the empty quarter") was chosen as the name for this panorama because it is the name of a similarly barren, desolate part of the Saudi Arabian desert on Earth.
      The panorama spans 360 degrees and consists of images obtained in 97 individual pointings and 5 Pancam filters at each pointing. This 22,780 by 6000 pixel mosaic is an approximate true color rendering generated using the images acquired through Pancam's 750, 530, and 480 nm filters. The lighting varied somewhat during the nine sols that it took to acquire this panorama, resulting in some small image seams within the mosaic. These seams have been smoothed out from the sky parts of the mosaic in order to simulate better the vista that a person would have if they were viewing it all at the same time on Mars.
      Opportunity's tracks leading back to the north (center of the panorama) are evidence of the rover's long trek from Endurance crater. The deep ruts dug by Opportunity's wheels as it became stuck in the sand can be seen in the foreground. The crest and trough of the last small dune or ripple (these wind-formed sand features are only about 10 to 15 cm tall) that the rover crossed before getting stuck is visible in the center of the image, and the crest of the actual ripple that the rover got stuck in can be seen just to the right of center. The tracks, as well as a few other places on and near some of the ripple crests, can be seen in this color image to be dustier than the undisturbed or "normal" plains soils in Meridiani. Since the time these ruts were made, some of the dust there has been blown away by the wind, reaffirming the dynamic nature of the martian environment, even in this barren, ocean-like desert of sand.

Jim Bell
Pancam PEL
5 July 2005

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell
Image mosaicking: JPL/MIPL (Oleg Pariser, Vadim Klochko, Jeffrey R. Hall)
Calibration and color rendering: Cornell Cal;ibration Crew and the Pancam team (Jim Bell)

Full Size JPG | Full Size TIFF
Image Dimensions: 22780x6000

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