From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published August 9, 2011 07:03 AM

Endeavour Crater

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.

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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.

Endeavour is an impact crater located in Meridiani Planum on Mars. Endeavour is 22 kilometers (13.70 miles) in diameter. Using Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter data, phyllosilicate-bearing outcrops have been detected along the rim of this crater. These minerals may have formed under wet conditions in a low-acidic environment during the early history of Mars. There are raised rim segments to the north, east, and southwest. The rim has become worn, rounded and degraded, with infilling of plains material in a manner similar to the Victoria crater.

Since August 2008, Mars Exploration Rover-B Opportunity has been travelling toward this crater. Craters that have been explored by Opportunity include Victoria crater which is 750 meters (0.47 miles) in diameter, Endurance crater which is 130 meters (0.08 miles) in diameter, and Eagle crater which is 22 meters (0.01 miles) in diameter.

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.

For further information:  http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2011-246&rn=news.xml&rst=3096

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