NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Heatshield from Mars exploration rover Opportunity. The heatshield is used to protect the spacecraft on entering the atmosphere. Scientists are using examinations of the wreckage to evaluate heatshield performance. Opportunity was one of two rovers launched in the summer of 2003. On January 25 2004 it landed on Mars and began transmitting data back to Earth. Both rovers have since exceeded their projected lifespan and sent a huge amount of important scientific data on the geological make up of Mars. This image of the heatshield was taken by Opportunity 332 days into its mission, on 29 December 2004.
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