After climbing itself out of one big hole, NASA's Martian rover Opportunity is ready for more.
A three-year journey has taken it to the edge of the huge Endeavour Crater. The crater is 14 miles in diameter and scientists hope it will provide a glimpse at Martian rocks never seen before. We put together a collection of some of the first shots sent back from the crater's edge, as well as the epic road trip that led Opportunity there.
Caption:Eric MackPhoto:NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University
False color was added to this image of the west rim of the Endeavour Crater to spruce up Opportunity's typical affinity for sepia tones. It also better shows the contrast between rocks and soils. The darker rocks may be a new type that Opportunity hasn't come across before, NASA says. Also note the dark specks covering the foreground. Those are iron-rich pebbles called "blueberries" that have been common throughout the rover's journeys.
Opportunity used its panoramic camera to capture this mosaic view at Spirit Point, overlooking the small Odyssey Crater in the foreground and Endeavour Crater beyond. Spirit Point was named for Opportunity's twin rover, which is no longer operational.
This shot was taken July 17, after Opportunity completed 20 miles of total travel on Mars. At this point it was under a mile from the rim of Endeavour Crater. So, no, the rover doesn't exactly move at Earth highway speeds. In fact, on that particular Martian day (or sol, as NASA calls it), Opportunity traveled a total of 407 feet.
This image shows the route Opportunity has taken from its landing spot inside Eagle Crater to the edge of Endeavour Crater today. It took the rover three years to make the trek from the much smaller Victoria Crater, seen in the upper left. It's roughly the Martian equivalent of a cross-country trip to the Grand Canyon, just without all the fast food...or water and breathable air, for that matter.