Rover Opportunity nears Mars crater

2011-08-08 14:00

kalahari.com

  • NASA
    The USA accelerated the space race in 1958 by forming NASA. Eager readers will learn about the... Now R441.00
    buy now
Los Angeles - Months after the death of the Mars rover Spirit, its surviving twin is poised to reach the rim of a vast crater to begin a fresh round of exploration.

Driving commands sent up to Opportunity directed the six-wheel rover to make the final push toward Endeavour crater, a 22km-wide depression near the Martian equator that likely could be its final destination.

At its current pace and barring any hiccups, Opportunity should roll up to the crater's edge on Tuesday. The finish line was a spot along a ridge that the rover team nicknamed "Spirit Point" in honour of Opportunity's lost twin.

"I'm totally pumped. We've been driving for so long," said Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St Louis who is part of the team.

The milestone injects a sense of adventure back into a mission that wowed the public with colour portraits of the landscape and the unmistakable geologic discoveries of a warm and wetter past.

Low-key

The Nasa rovers parachuted to opposite sides of Mars in 2004 for what was a planned three-month mission, but both have operated beyond their factory warranty.

Spirit's journey ended in May after Nasa ceased trying to contact it. It had been trapped in sand and unheard from for more than a year.

Opportunity has been on a driving spree since 2008 after it crawled out of a much smaller crater and trundled south toward Endeavour, stopping occasionally to sightsee and examine rock outcrops.

Unlike the early days of the mission when the public tracked Opportunity's every move, the march to Endeavour has been largely low-key.

In early 2009, Opportunity caught its first peek of the uplifted rim on the horizon. At the time, scientists were unsure if the rover would make it all the way.

The roughly 11km journey took longer than the estimated two years to fulfil. Opportunity, driving backward to prevent its right front wheel from wearing out, could not travel as the crow flies because of dangerous obstacles. So it took a circuitous route and ended up driving twice the distance.

Project manager John Callas of the Nasa Jet Propulsion Laboratory said Endeavour crater is arguably the most important science target since landing.

Opportunity, which logged more than 32km since landing, will spend several months imaging the rim and interior, which has been partially filled in by rocks and sediments.

There are no plans to drive across the crater for fear of getting stuck, Callas said. Instead, it will traverse south along the rim in search of clay minerals thought to form under wet conditions.

While these clay minerals have been extensively studied by orbiting spacecraft, Opportunity will be the first to examine them on the ground.

"We will likely spend years at this location," Callas said. "What a destination. It's not just one spot. There're kilometres of interesting geology to explore."
- AP
Read more on:    nasa  |  space
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic & Train Alerts
Traffic
Bellville 13:23 PM
Road name: N1 Outbound

ROADWORKS - left lane after the Old Oak Road exit

Hermanus 12:53 PM
Road name: R43

CRIME SCENE between Onrus and Hermanus - expect delays

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It is the end of the month and there may be a strong focus on organising finances. You may have found a need to reconstruct or...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.