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Shades and Shapes of Mars
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Shades and Shapes of Mars

January 3, 2005
This image captured by the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity's panoramic camera highlights the flat and dark terrain of its landing site at Meridiani Planum. The landscape is in contrast to that of past landing sites on Mars, which show variations in color and topography. For example, the Viking 1 and Viking 2 missions observed rocky, dust-covered surfaces (PIA00393, PIA00568) much like those observed at Pathfinder's landing site (PIA02405). Gusev Crater, the landing site of the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, is slightly darker in color but flat and speckled with a sparse array of rocks (PIA05102). Meridiani Planum has even fewer rocks than Gusev Crater and is darkest and cleanest of all the landing sites. This assortment of martian shades and shapes are further revealed in an image of the red planet taken by the Hubble Space Telescope (PIA03154).