Opportunity at Endeavour

Last seen, on Slugger, at the edge of the football-field sized crater Santa Maria, Nasa’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has arrived at its next destination – the 22km wide crater Endeavour.  3 years and 13 miles from its first destination, Victoria crater. [Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ASU]

A portion of the west rim of Endeavour crater sweeps southward in this color view from NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. This crater — with a diameter of about 14 miles (22 kilometers) — is more than 25 times wider than any that Opportunity has previously approached during the rover’s 90 months on Mars.

This view combines exposures taken by Opportunity’s panoramic camera (Pancam) on the 2,678th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars (Aug. 6, 2011) before driving on that sol. The subsequent Sol 2678 drive covered 246 feet (75.26 meters), more than half of the remaining distance to the rim of the crater. Opportunity arrived at the rim during its next drive, on Sol 2681 (Aug. 9, 2011).

Endeavour crater has been the rover team’s destination for Opportunity since the rover finished exploring Victoria crater in August 2008. Endeavour offers access to older geological deposits than any Opportunity has seen before.

The closest of the distant ridges visible along the Endeavour rim is informally named “Solander Point.” Opportunity may investigate that area in the future. The rover’s first destination on the rim, called “Spirit Point” in tribute to Opportunity’s now-inactive twin, Spirit, is to the left (north) of this scene.

The lighter-toned rocks closer to the rover in this view are similar to the rocks Opportunity has driven over for most of the mission. However, the darker-toned and rougher rocks just beyond that might be a different type for Opportunity to investigate.

The ground in the foreground is covered with iron-rich spherules, nicknamed “blueberries,” which Opportunity has observed frequently since the first days after landing. They are about 0.2 inch (5 millimeters) or more in diameter.

This view combines images taken through three different Pancam filters admitting light with wavelengths centered at 753 nanometers (near infrared), 535 nanometers (green) and 432 nanometers (violet). This “natural color” is the rover team’s best estimate of what the scene would look like if humans were there and able to see it with their own eyes. Seams have been eliminated from the sky portion of the mosaic to better simulate the vista a person standing on Mars would see.

Here’s the same view in false colour to emphasize differences among materials in the rocks and the soils. [Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ASU]

Images combined into this view were taken through three different Pancam filters admitting light with wavelengths centered at 753 nanometers (near infrared), 535 nanometers (green) and 432 nanometers (violet). Seams have been eliminated from the sky portion of the mosaic to better simulate the vista a person standing on Mars would see.

Mars Rover Opportunity arrives at ‘Spirit Point’. [Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ASU]

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity arrived at the rim of Endeavour crater on Aug. 9, 2011, after a trek of more than 13 miles (21 kilometers) lasting nearly three years since departing the rover’s previous major destination, Victoria crater, in August 2008.

Here’s another look at the small Odyssey crater on the edge of Endeavour. [Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech]

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity arrived at the rim of Endeavour crater on Aug. 9, 2011, after a trek of more than 13 miles (21 kilometers) lasting nearly three years since departing the rover’s previous major destination, Victoria crater, in August 2008.

After arrival, Opportunity used its panoramic camera (Pancam) to record the images combined into this mosaic view.

The view scene shows the “Spirit Point” area of the rim, including a small crater, “Odyssey” on the rim, and the interior of Endeavour beyond.

And here’s a short video compilation of the various images, path of Opportunity, and comments by Matthew Golombek, Mars Exploration Rover science team member.  Via NasaTV.

Nasa’s next Mars Exploration Rover, Curiosity, is expected to launch between 25 Nov and 18 Dec this year.  Arrival in Mars’ Gale crater due in August 2012.

It just might find some of that suspected liquid water…

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