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9 spectacular photos the Mars rover sent back to Earth

Living on the Red Planet for more than a decade, NASA's little machine has become quite the shutterbug.


January 26, 2016 | Latest Photo Prev Next
This scene combines 817 images taken by Rover's panoramic camera. It shows the terrain that surrounded the rover while it was stationary for four months. This scene combines 817 images taken by Rover's panoramic camera. It shows the terrain that surrounded the rover while it was stationary for four months. Photo: NASA
January 26, 2016 | Latest Photo

This week marks the anniversary of when NASA's Opportunity Rover landed on the surface of Mars on Jan. 25, 2004. We've come a long way in the 12 years since, and a human-led mission to Mars is now on the horizon.

In the past year alone, NASA has unveiled a three-step plan for sending astronauts to Mars, asked for the public's help in designing Mars habitats and created an Iron Man-style robot to send to the planet. To help them with their Mars mission, the U.S. space agency has entered into a partnership with Israel, the same country that hosted an international space conference in October, where Mars was a hot topic.

Originally expected to last for only 90 days, the Opportunity Rover has been a veritable workhorse, sending more than 200,000 photos back to Earth to help NASA prepare for its next mission. We've curated some of our favorite snapshots from the galaxy's most prolific photographer.

A rind that appears bluish covers portions of the surface of a rock called "Whitewater Lake."A rind that appears bluish covers portions of the surface of a rock called "Whitewater Lake." (Photo: NASA)

That's not a footprint. That's Rover's tracks after it knocked over a rock that had been in this spot.That's not a footprint. That's the rover's tracks after it knocked over a rock that had been in this spot. (Photo: NASA)

The mineral vein called "Homestake" is about the width of a thumb and about 18 inches long.The mineral vein called "Homestake" is about the width of a thumb and about 18 inches long. (Photo: NASA)

This image shows the windswept vista from an outcrop informally named "Greeley Haven."This image shows the windswept vista from an outcrop informally named "Greeley Haven." (Photo: NASA)

These are examples of the mineral concretions nicknamed "blueberries" on the Martian surface.These are examples of the mineral concretions nicknamed "blueberries" on the Martian surface. (Photo: NASA)

This selfie of the Rover shows effects of wind events that had cleaned much of the accumulated dust off the rover's solar panels.This selfie of the rover shows effects of wind events that had cleaned much of the accumulated dust off the rover's solar panels. (Photo: NASA)

The Rover has extended its robotic arm for studying a light-toned rock target called "Athens" in this image from the rover's front hazard avoidance camera.The rover has extended its robotic arm for studying a light-toned rock target called "Athens" in this image from the rover's front camera. (Photo: NASA)

Look closely. Really closely. You can see the Rover perched on the southeast rim of the "Santa Maria" crater.Look closely. Really closely. You can see the rover perched on the southeast rim of the "Santa Maria" crater. (Photo: NASA)

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