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NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity took this image with its panoramic camera when the rover was about 130 meters (427 feet) from its heat shield, during the rover's 322nd sol (Dec. 19, 2004). The protective device shielded the rover from intense frictional heat as it entered the martian atmosphere. The heat shield was shed during the descent and landing sequence, just before the rover (within its folded lander) was lowered on a bridle. Scientists and engineers are interested in seeing what effects the descent had on the heat shield and are directing Opportunity to examine it.
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