Opportunity finally arrived at Victoria Crater
After an exhausting and perilous journey of about 21 months, the Mars Rover Opportunity made it to the rim of the crater Victoria on September 26, 2006.
The first snapshots reveal rugged rock walls and a floor covered with sand dunes in the 800 meter wide depression. This is a dream come true for geologists, says Steve Squyres from Cornell University in New York. If the rover could get to the rocky strata, it would provide new insights into the past environmental conditions on Mars. The researchers are particularly interested in whether traces of a wet era can also be found in this rock.
Samples previously analyzed by Opportunity have long led scientists to speculate that groundwater and even running water may be present in some regions. Crater Victoria could give you a deeper look at surface conditions from even further back in time.
Since arriving in January 2004, Opportunity has traveled more than 9.2 kilometers on the Red Planet. On his way to Victoria Crater, however, he had to stay in a sand dune for more than five weeks.
Opportunity's descent in the upcoming exploration of the crater should mean a new challenge for the worn-out rover. Regardless, mission leader Cindy Oda is "extremely excited for the outcome of this exciting new adventure."