The NASA Mars rover Opportunity has gained a view of Endeavour crater from barely more than a football-field’s distance away from the rim. The rim of Endeavour has been the mission’s long-term goal since mid-2008.
Endeavour offers the setting for plenty of productive work by Opportunity. The crater is 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter — more than 25 times wider than Victoria crater, an earlier stop that Opportunity examined for two years. Observations by orbiting spacecraft indicate that the ridges along Endeavour’s western rim expose rock outcrops older than any Opportunity has seen so far. The selected location for arrival at the rim, “Spirit Point,” is at the southern tip of one of those ridges, “Cape York,” on the western side of Endeavour.
Opportunity and Spirit completed their three-month prime missions on Mars in April 2004. Both rovers continued for years of bonus, extended missions. Both have made important discoveries about wet environments on ancient Mars that may have been favorable for supporting microbial life. The mission of the Spirit rover, for which Spirit Point was named, was concluded in May, 2011, after the rover did not re-establish communications following the Martian winter.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Exploration Rover Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. More information about the rovers is online at: http://www.nasa.gov/rovers .
IMAGE : Opportunity’s View Approaching Rim of Endeavour
NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity used its panoramic camera (Pancam) to capture this view of a portion of Endeavour crater’s rim after a drive during the rover’s 2,676th Martian day, or sol, of working on Mars (Aug. 4, 2011). The drive covered 396 feet (120.7 meters) and put the rover with about that much distance to go before reaching the chosen arrival site at the rim, called “Spirit Point.”
Endeavour crater has been the rover team’s destination for Opportunity since the rover finished exploring Victoria crater in August 2008. Endeavour, with a diameter of about 14 miles (22 kilometers), offers access to older geological deposits than any Opportunity has seen before.
This view looks toward a portion of the rim south of Spirit Point, including terrain that Opportunity may explore in the future.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ASU