NASA scientists name Martian crater after Apollo 16 moonwalk mission

An enhanced color image shows the tire tracks of the Opportunity rover running beside the edge of the newly discovered crater. Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

June 19 (UPI) — Earlier this spring, NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover, also known as the Opportunity rover, discovered a small Martian crater. The discovery was made on the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 16 mission, NASA’s 10th moon landing.

Last week, NASA scientists announced the name of that newly discovered crater. They call it “Orion Crater” — an homage to the lunar module that carried astronauts John Young and Charles Duke to the moon and back.

The rover’s Panoramic Camera snapped photos of Orion Crater on April 26. The depression measures 90 feet across. It’s a relatively young crater, no older than 10 million years old.

“It turns out that Orion Crater is almost exactly the same size as Plum Crater on the moon, which John Young and Charles Duke explored on their first of three moonwalks taken while investigating the lunar surface using their lunar rover,” Jim Rice, scientist on the Opportunity mission, said in a news release.

Rice shared the new images with Duke.

“This is fantastic. What a great job!” Duke responded. “I wish I could be standing on the rim of Orion like I was standing on the rim of Plum Crater 45 years ago.”

NASA scientists shared several images of the new crater online.


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