Mars Rover at Endeavour Crater: New Rim Shots!

August 14th, 2011

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell

New imagery from NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover has revealed more details from the rim of Endeavour crater.

The Mars robot has rolled itself to the large impact crater that measures about 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter.

In pulling up to the crater, Opportunity’s current locale has been informally named “Spirit Point” – a tribute to Opportunity’s rover twin, Spirit, which stopped communicating in March 2010 after more than six years of work on Mars.

Orbital observations of the area suggest that the rim of Endeavour crater will offer NASA’s Opportunity rover access to rocks from an earlier, less-acidic wet environment on Mars.

In reaching Endeavour crater, the wheeled robot completed a three-year journey of more than 13 miles (21 kilometers) from its last previous major destination, Victoria crater.

“I think the whole team is tremendously excited by our arrival at Endeavour crater,” said Bill Farrand, a research scientist with the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado – and a member of the science team for the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission.

“The thing that I have been hearing everyone say, including me, is that it is now like a ‘whole new mission’… and it really is,” Farrand told this Coalition reporter.

Farrand added that after more than 2,600 sols of rover driving over basically the same type of sulfate-cemented “sandstone”, Opportunity is now in a completely different geologic terrain – an area that contains phyllosilicate (clay) minerals- indicative of really wet conditions, Farrand explained.

“We’re now parked near the smaller, relatively fresh, Odyssey crater and the ejecta blocks from that crater, at first glance, look different from other types of rocks we’ve seen so far. So I think the first thing to do is take a close look at some of those ejecta blocks,” Farrand said.

By Leonard David

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