Shop Windows to the Universe

Our Glaciers: Then and Now activity kit helps you see the changes taking place in glaciers around the world. See all our activity kits and classroom activities.
This image shows Meridiani Planum, the landing site for Opportunity. The yellow oval, which is 81.5 km by 11.5 km (50 by 7 miles), indicates the area within which Opportunity landed.
Click on image for full size
Windows to the Universe original artwork by Randy Russell using images courtesy NASA/JPL.

MER Opportunity Landing Site - Meridiani Planum

The second Mars Exploration Rover (MER), named "Opportunity", landed at a site on Mars known as Meridiani Planum. This flat plain is one of the few places on Mars where the mineral gray hematite is found in large concentrations. On Earth, hematite deposits usually indicate that water was present in an area for long periods. The main goal of the MER missions is to discover and examine geologic formations that imply the presence of water at some time. Scientists chose Meridiani Planum as a MER landing site primarily because of the hematite deposits detected there.

Opportunity landed within an 81.5 km long by 11.5 km wide (50 mile by 7 mile) ellipse centered at 1.98 South latitude and 5.96 West longitude. The site is roughly on the opposite side of the Red Planet from Gusev Crater, the landing site of "Spirit", Opportunity's twin. Meridiani Planum is a flat plain ("planum" means "plain") near the prime meridian on Mars (the arbitrarily chosen location of the line of zero longitude) that offered a safe landing site for the rover to touch down. Opportunity bounced to a halt within the landing ellipse on January 24, 2004. The airbag ball Opportunity was encased within during landing actually ended up resting inside of a shallow, small crater that is about 20 meters (66 feet) across.

Last modified December 31, 2003 by Randy Russell.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes fun classroom activities for you and your students. Issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist are also full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Meridiani Planum location on Mars

Meridiani Planum is a small, flat region near the equator on Mars. As is the case on Earth, locations on Mars are specified by stating their latitude and longitude. Meridiani Planum is near the prime meridian,...more

Hematite

A sample of hematite may look like little more than a dark gray blob. That might seem impossible to identify but with a streak test, you can easily identify it! To tell if it is hematite, just rub the...more

MER Spirit landing site - Gusev Crater

The first of two Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) landed within Gusev Crater on Mars on January 3, 2004. The robotic rover, named Spirit, bounced to a halt within an 81 km by 12 km (50 by 7 miles) target...more

MER Opportunity Landing Site - Meridiani Planum

The second Mars Exploration Rover (MER), named "Opportunity", landed at a site on Mars known as Meridiani Planum. This flat plain is one of the few places on Mars where the mineral gray hematite is found...more

Hubble Space Telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was one of the most important exploration tools of the past two decades, and will continue to serve as a great resource well into the new millennium. The HST is credited...more

Apollo 11

Driven by a recent surge in space research, the Apollo program hoped to add to the accomplishments of the Lunar Orbiter and Surveyor missions of the late 1960's. Apollo 11 was the first mission to succeed...more

Apollo 12

Apollo 12 survived a lightning strike during its launch on Nov. 14, 1969, and arrived at the Moon three days later. Astronauts Charles Conrad and Alan Bean descended to the surface, while Richard Gordon...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF