• MAA-021: Trail Left by the Rover? - Image Analysis Report

Image Analysis Report


MAA Report Ref: MAA-021

Report date: July-August 2017/Updated March 2016

Research Status: EXPLAINED

Description: Trail Left by the Rover?
Approximate size: 25 m

Mission: Opportunity Rover
Location: Victoria Crater, Meridiani Planum

Found by: Unknown

Image date: Sol 1070 Jan 2007
Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell

Graphics/image editing: Mars Archaeology Archive

Image source: http://marsrovers.nasa.gov/gallery/all/1/p/1070/1P223169173EFF78VAP2629L6M1.JPG


Some Mars enthusiasts believed this picture to be possible evidence for artificial constructions on the Mars surface. A perceived lack of information and feedback from NASA to the public to explain this image, undoubtedly fed this interpretation.


None. Picture satisfactorily explained by the Opportunity traverse map that shows where the rover travelled, and an overhead image from the HiRISE Orbiter that reveals the wheel tracks still visible on the surface. Also, the rover was undertaking odometry tests at the time which involved turning the wheels, and which probably accounts for the furrowed nature of the surface marks.


ACCEPTED - Wheel tracks left by the rover.

MAA-021.2 Trail left by the rover?: from a distance - Sol 1070

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell

MAA-021.1 Trail left by the rover?: Close-up - Sol 1070

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell

Image source: http://marsrovers.nasa.gov/gallery/all/1/p/1070/1P223169173EFF78VAP2629L6M1.JPG


MAA-021.3 Trail left by the rover?: Explained

1. Image taken in 2007 by the Opportunity Rover at Victoria Crater on Sol 1070, reveals strange markings on the Martian surface

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell;  image source: https://mars.nasa.gov/mer/gallery/all/1/p/1070/1P223169173EFF78VAP2629L6M1.JPG

2. Image of Victoria Crater taken by the Mars Orbiter HiRISE, shows the Opportunity Rover wheel tracks

Image credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona; graphics: Mars Archaeology Archive; image source: https://www.uahirise.org/PSP_004289_1780


3. Traverse Map showing the route taken by the Opportunity Rover at Victoria Crater

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/University of Arizona; image source: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mer/images/jc1-20071210.html

4. Rover wheel tracks can clearly be seen as straight, parallel markings. Location of rover points to where the image was taken on Sol 1070

Graphics: Mars Archaeology Archive