Mars Rover Steps Into Crater

NASA vehicle got second chance, after withstanding a two-month dust storm
By Zach Samalin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 13, 2007 6:00 PM CDT
Image provided by NASA shows NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity using its front hazard-identification camera to obtain this image at the end of a drive on the rover's 1,271st sol, or Martian day...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – The dust has finally settled on Mars, and NASA's Mars rover Opportunity took its first steps Tuesday 13 feet into the half-mile-wide Victoria Crater—and then backed out after slipping beyond acceptable levels. With Opportunity's six wheels perched over the lip of the crater, researchers paused the operation in order to analyze data collected in the foray, Wired reports.

The mission has been delayed for months by dust storms that obscured the sun that powers Opportunity's solar  batteries. Project managers are still determining whether ground at the most accessible entry-point to the crater, called Duck Bay, is too loose to support Opportunity's descent. The hope is that the crater's rock formations will yield information about Mars' atmosphere from millions of years ago.