This panoramic image, dubbed "Rub al Khali," was taken by Opportunity on the plains of Meridiani during the rover's 456th to 464th sols on Mars. Opportunity was about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) south of "Endurance Crater" at a place known informally as "Purgatory Dune."
The rover was stuck in the dune's deep fine sand for more than a month. "Rub al Khali" (Arabic translation: "the empty quarter") was chosen as the name for this panorama because it is the name of a similarly barren, desolate part of the Saudi Arabian desert on Earth.
Opportunity's tracks leading back to the north (center of the panorama) are a reminder of the rover's long trek from Endurance Crater. These wind-formed sand features are only about 10 to 15 centimeters (4 to 6 inches) tall. Since the time these ruts were made, some of the dust there has been blown away by the wind, reaffirming the dynamic nature of the martian environment, even in this barren, ocean-like desert of sand.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell
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