Opportunity's First Glimpse into 'Victoria Crater'
A drive of about 60 meters (about 200 feet) on the 943rd Martian day of Opportunity's exploration of Mars' Meridiani Planum region (Sept. 18, 2006) brought the NASA rover to within about 50 meters (about 160 feet) of the rim of 'Victoria Crater,' the mission's long-term destination for the past 21 Earth months. Opportunity reached a location from which the navigation camera on top of the rover's mast could begin to see into the interior of Victoria. This mosaic of five frames taken by the navigation camera reveals the upper portion of interior crater walls facing toward Opportunity from up to about 850 meters (half a mile) away. The amount of vertical relief visible at the top of the interior walls from this angle is about 15 meters (about 50 feet).
Victoria Crater is about five times wider than "Endurance Crater," which Opportunity spent six months examining in 2004, and about 40 times wider than "Eagle Crater," where Opportunity first landed. The great lure of Victoria is the expectation that a thick stack of geological layers will be exposed in the crater walls, potentially several times the thickness that was previously studied at Endurance and therefore, potentially preserving several times the historical record.
+ Larger view
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech