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On the Verge of 'Victoria'
09.26.06
Approaching Victoria crater

Once it was more like a distant dream, the ultimate bonus to an already marvelous Martian mission. Now, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is on the brink of the expansive "Victoria Crater," a depression that truly makes those on the path to it look like dimples. At about 800 meters (nearly half-a-mile) in diameter, Victoria is five times larger then "Endurance Crater."

This image from Opportunity's navigation camera is labeled to highlight features of the large crater. Victoria Crater is informally named for the flagship of Ferdinand Magellan's 16th-Century expedition around the world, and many the features of Victoria will be informally named for places visited by that expedition.

The feature labeled in dark yellow as "Bright Crater" is another crater just outside the far rim of Victoria. At 30 to 40 meters (98 to 131 feet) in diameter, the depression is larger than Opportunity's landing site, "Eagle Crater." Labeled in bright purple is "Duck Crater," a small dimple on the near side of Victoria Crater (the name is used as a placeholder until the team decides if it will name it or not). Other distant craters are labeled in bright blue.

On the far right of the image is "Kitty Clyde's Sister," a highly degraded crater informally named for a boat in John Wesley Powell's 19th-Century expedition through the Grand Canyon.

The science and engineering teams are strategizing on the best way to approach, and possibly enter, Victoria Crater.

This image was taken on the rover's 943th sol on Mars (Sept. 18, 2006).



Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech