[meteorite-list] NASA Mars Rover Opportunity Ascends to Level Ground

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Tue, 2 Sep 2008 16:57:42 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <200809022357.QAA01888_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


NASA Mars Rover Opportunity Ascends to Level Ground
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
August 29, 2008

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has
climbed out of the large crater that it had been examining from the
inside since last September.

"The rover is back on flat ground," an engineer who drives it, Paolo
Bellutta of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, announced to the mission's
international team of scientists and engineers.

Opportunity used its own entry tracks from nearly a year ago as the path
for a drive of 6.8 meters (22 feet) bringing the rover out over the top
of the inner slope and through a sand ripple at the lip of Victoria
Crater. The exit drive, conducted late Thursday, completed a series of
drives covering 50 meters (164 feet) since the rover team decided about
a month ago that it had completed its scientific investigations inside
the crater.

"We're headed to the next adventure out on the plains of Meridiani,"
said JPL's John Callas, project manager for Opportunity and its twin
Mars rover, Spirit. "We safely got into the crater, we completed our
exploration there, and we safely got out. We were concerned that any
wheel failure on our aging rover could have left us trapped inside the

The Opportunity mission has focused on Victoria Crater for more than
half of the 55 months since the rover landed in the Meridiani Planum
region of equatorial Mars. The crater spans about 800 meters (half a
mile) in diameter and reveals rock layers that hold clues to
environmental conditions of the area through an extended period when the
rocks were formed and altered.

The team selected Victoria as the next major destination after
Opportunity exited smaller Endurance Crater in late 2004. The ensuing
22-month traverse to Victoria included stopping for studies along the
route and escaping from a sand trap. The rover first reached the rim of
Victoria in September 2007. For nearly a year, it then explored partway
around the rim, checking for the best entry route and examining from
above the rock layers exposed in a series of promontories that punctuate
the crater perimeter.

Now that Opportunity has finished exploring Victoria Crater and returned
to the surrounding plain, the rover team plans to use tools on the
robotic arm in coming months to examine an assortment of cobbles --
rocks about fist-size and larger -- that may have been thrown from
impacts that dug craters too distant for Opportunity to reach.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena,
manages the rovers for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.
For images and information about NASA's Opportunity and Spirit Mars
rovers, visit http://www.nasa.gov/rovers and


Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington
dwayne.c.brown at nasa.gov

Guy Webster
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
guy.webster at jpl.nasa.gov

Received on Tue 02 Sep 2008 07:57:42 PM PDT

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