Opportunity Amid Mars Craters (Unannotated)
This map of the region around NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows the relative locations of several craters, including Endeavour. A super-resolution view generated from images taken by Opportunity on May 12, 2010, (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mer/multimedia/gallery/pia13197-unlabeled.html) shows some detail in a portion of Endeavour's rim.
The map covers an area about 55 kilometers (34 miles) across in the Meridiani Planum region of Mars. It is a mosaic of images from the Context Camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. North is toward the top. Opportunity's explorations have all been within the upper left quadrant of the region covered in this map.
Opportunity explored Endurance Crater (barely visible about 7 kilometers or 4 miles from the left edge of this area and 2 kilometers or 1 mile from the top) during the first year after the rover's January 2004 arrival on Mars for a mission originally scheduled to last for three months. Since the summer of 2008, when Opportunity finished two years of studying Victoria Crater (about 8 kilometers or 5 miles from the left edge and 9 kilometers or 6 miles from the top), the rover's long-term destination has been the much larger Endeavour Crater (the large crater at the center). By the spring of 2010, Opportunity had covered more than a third of the charted, 19-kilometer (12-mile) route from Victoria to Endeavour and reached an area with a gradual, southward slope offering a view of a portion of Endeavour's elevated rim.
After the rover team chose Endeavour as a long-term destination, the goal became even more alluring when observations with the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars, also on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, found clay minerals exposed at Endeavour. James Wray, of Cornell University, and co-authors reported observations of those minerals in Geophysical Research Letters in 2009. Clay minerals, which form under wet and relatively neutral pH conditions, have been found extensively on Mars from orbit but have not been examined on the surface. Additional observations with that spectrometer are helping the rover team choose which part of Endeavour's rim to visit first with Opportunity.
The crater at the bottom center of the map is Iazu. Material that was ejected during the impact that excavated Iazu is visible on the horizon in Opportunity's May 12, 2010, view of the Endeavor rim.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems
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