Opportunity Knocks on Mars

NASA's rover explores bedrock that could be ancient Martian surface
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2007 10:47 AM CDT
This photo released by NASA, taken by the Mars rover Opportunity's front hazard-identification camera, shows a wide-angle view looking down into and across Victoria Crater. NASA's rover Opportunity has...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – NASA’s Martian explorer Opportunity reached its first destination inside the cavernous Victoria Crater yesterday and prepared to get to work drilling into bright rock layers to collect data. The six-wheeled robot last month began the precarious decline into the crater, headed for a shiny piece of bedrock that scientists think is a relic of the ancient Martian surface, the AP reports.

Opportunity is now parked 40 feet below the rim at a 25-degree tilt—the steepest angle it has encountered since landing on the planet—while its sister rover Spirit explores a plateau on the other side of Mars for evidence of a volcano. The two robots, which landed on the planet three years ago, were originally slated for a three-month mission; this summer they survived a fierce dust storm that cut their power for weeks.