[meteorite-list] NASA Mars Rover Arrives at Dramatic Vista on Red Planet

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Wed Sep 27 18:31:50 2006
Message-ID: <200609272231.PAA11793_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>

Sept. 27, 2006

Erica Hupp/Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington

Guy Webster
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

RELEASE: 06-324


NASA's Mars Rover Opportunity has arrived at the rim of a crater
approximately five times wider than a previous stadium-sized one it
studied for half a year.

Initial images from the rover's first overlook after a 21-month
journey to 'Victoria Crater' show rugged walls with
layers of exposed rock and a floor blanketed with dunes. The far wall
is approximately one-half mile from the rover.

"This is a geologist's dream come true," said Steve Squyres of Cornell
University, Ithaca, N.Y., principal investigator for NASA's twin
rovers Opportunity and Spirit. "Those layers of rock, if we can get
to them, will tell us new stories about the environmental conditions
long ago. We especially want to learn whether the wet era that we
found recorded in the rocks closer to the landing site extended
farther back in time. The way to find that out is to go deeper, and
Victoria may let us do that."

Opportunity has been exploring Mars since January 2004, more than 10
times longer than its original prime mission of three months. It has
driven more than 5.7 miles. Most of that was to get from "Endurance"
crater to Victoria, across a flat plain pocked with smaller craters
and strewn with sand ripples. Frequent stops to examine intriguing
rocks interrupted the journey, and one large sand ripple kept the
rover trapped for more than five weeks.

"We're so proud of Opportunity, the rover that 'takes a lickin' but
keeps on tickin'," said Cindy Oda, a Mars rover mission manager at
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif. "It
continues to overcome all challenges despite its aging parts and
difficult terrain. We are looking forward to exciting new discoveries
as Opportunity begins its new adventure exploring Victoria crater."

Spirit, halfway around Mars and farther south of the planet's equator,
has been staying at one northward-tilted position through the
southern Mars winter for a maximum energy supply for its solar
panels. Spirit is conducting studies that benefit from staying in one
place, such as monitoring effects of wind on dust. It will begin
driving again when the Martian spring increases the amount of solar
power available.

Operations for both rovers will be minimized for much of October as
Mars passes nearly behind the sun from Earth's perspective, making
radio communication more difficult than usual.

Opportunity's view into the Victoria crater is available at:


JPL manages the Mars Exploration Rover Project for the NASA Science
Mission Directorate, Washington.

Received on Wed 27 Sep 2006 06:31:47 PM PDT

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