Mon, Sep 17, 2007
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity finished the last step
of a test in-and-out maneuver checking wheel slippage at the rim of
Victoria Crater this week. Then, the rover immediately drove back
into the crater as the start of a multi-week investigation on the
big bowl's inner slope.
Opportunity started the day with just two of its six wheels
inside the rim of Victoria Crater and ended the day's driving about
six meters (20 feet) inside the rim.
The mission's first destination inside the crater is a
light-toned layer of exposed rock that may preserve evidence of
interaction between the Martian atmosphere and surface from
millions of years ago. Victoria exposes a taller stack of ancient
rock layers than any crater Opportunity has previously visited
during the rover's nearly 44 months on Mars. The mission was
originally planned for three months.
"We want to maintain a safe egress route out of the crater for
Opportunity, and by completing the back-up drive over the sand
ripple at the rim, we have confirmed that we have one," said John
Callas, Mars rover project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
"Opportunity is now exploring the interior of Victoria
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