Entry: Opportunity peeks over crater rim Feb 10, 2004

NASA's Opportunity rover peeked over the rim of the crater in which it landed and was able to see the clamshell holder and parachute it discarded just before hitting the flat, gray surface of Mars, scientists said.

A colour photograph from Opportunity, released at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, showed the two objects distinctly, on a largely featureless surface.

"There is the hardware that we've littered the surface with," Michael Malin, a member of the mission science team said yesterday.

The rover was shielded by a clamshell-like device during its entry into the atmosphere of Mars. The photograph, when combined with pictures taken from orbit, helped confirm exactly where Opportunity landed on Mars on January 24.

NASA planned for its orbiting satellite to begin looking for another martian spacecraft, Britain's ill-fated Beagle 2 lander, on Thursday.

The lander, due to land on Mars on Christmas Day, has not been heard from since it separated from the European Space Agency's mother ship, Mars Express, in mid-December, despite several efforts to contact it.

NASA described the gray photograph shown yesterday as an "approximate true-colour image." Mars' iron-rich dust gives the planet its overall reddish color, but Opportunity landed in a relatively dust-free area. (AP)


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