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Rover sends a 9/11 tribute from Mars

Last week we told the story of how a 9/11 memorial got to Mars aboard NASA's Opportunity rover — and aboard its twin, the Spirit rover, which was put to rest this year after succumbing to the Martian winter. Today NASA released this photographic mosaic highlighting Opportunity's piece of 9/11, sent back to Earth on the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks.

The color image at the center came from Opportunity's panoramic camera. It's easy to spot the U.S. flag on the aluminum cable shield that was fashioned out of metal salvaged from the ruins of New York's World Trade Center and attached to the rover's robotic arm. The black-and-white view surrounding the color picture was produced by the rover's navigation camera, which can capture a wider view.

Scientists originally planned for Opportunity to execute a three-month mission at Mars — but more than seven and a half years after it landed, the six-wheeled robotic explorer is still hard at work, studying the 14-mile-wide Endeavour Crater. Neither dust storms nor sand traps have managed to defeat the rover, which is why it's so fitting that a little red-white-and-blue piece of the machine commemorates America's resilience in the post-9/11 world.

More about Mars and 9/11:

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