Three-and-a-half years after NASA's twin Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, landed on the Red Planet, Opportunity is about to embark on a new adventure.
The rover will climb down into the half-mile-wide Victoria Crater, a feat that carries the risk that the rover may become trapped or lose some of its capabilities. The rover team believes the potential benefits outweigh the risk, because the crater's rocky, layer interior may hold clues about ancient, wet environments.
The rover team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., had the rover maneuver around the edge of the crater in search of the safest entry point, an alcove called Duck Bay. Opportunity may begin its descent sometime after July 7.
More information on Opportunity's pending descent into Victoria Crater is online at:
CUT 1 –MARS EXPLORATION ROVER PROJECT MANAGER JOHN CALLAS OF NASA'S JET PROPULSION LABORATORY, PASADENA, CALIF., EXPLAINS WHY THE TEAM THINKS THE POTENTIAL BENEFITS OF EXPLORING VICTORIA CRATER OUTWEIGH THE RISKS.
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Length: 27 seconds
OUT: "GEOLOGY OF MARS"
Transcript: "Large craters are like time tunnels. They give you an opportunity to go back in time by driving down into them. Much like going to the Grand Canyon and staring at all the layers of the Grand Canyon, and knowing that the lower layers are older layers. We're going to do the same thing at Victoria, drive down in and have access to these older layers and be able to put together a time sequence of the geology of Mars"
2 -JOHN CALLAS SAYS THE EXPLORATION OF VICTORIA CRATER MARKS A HUGE MILESTONE FOR THE ROVER OPPORTUNITY, WHICH LANDED ON MARS IN JANUARY 2004.
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Length: 30 seconds
OUT: "MISSION OF EXPLORATION"
Transcript: "We've traveled 21 months to get to Victoria Crater, which can be argued as our most exciting adventure to date for the rovers. It's clearly the biggest object we've ever visited, and the fact that we can now explore it not only horizontally, but vertically is a very exciting opportunity, so it's quite remarkable that after three-and-a-half years on the surface of Mars that what was once a 90-day is now engaged on perhaps its greatest mission of exploration."
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