The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 19 Sep 2006 14:55:50 -0700
From: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory <info@jpl.nasa.gov>
To: "sondheim@panix.com" <sondheim@panix.com>
Subject: NASA Rover Opportunity Takes First Peek Into Victoria Crater

MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109 TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov

Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Image Advisory: 2006-111				        September 19, 2006

NASA Rover Opportunity Takes First Peek Into Victoria Crater

On Monday, NASA's Mars rover Opportunity got to within about 160 feet of the rim of the
half-mile-wide Victoria Crater, the rover's destination since late 2004.

The new position gave Opportunity a glimpse of the crater's opposite wall.  That view from
the navigation camera on the rover is available online at
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mer/images/20060919.html .

"Opportunity has been heading toward Victoria for more than 20 months, with no
guarantee it would ever get there, so we are elated to see this view," said Justin Maki of
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., an imaging scientist on the rover
team. "However, we still have another two or three short drives before Opportunity is
really right at the rim, looking down into the crater."

Once Opportunity reaches the rim, the rover's panoramic camera will begin the task of
creating a high-definition color mosaic.  That mosaic of images will provide scientists not
only with a beautiful view of the crater, but will also provide geologic details of the crater
walls.

The width of Victoria crater is the equivalent of eight football fields placed end to end.
That makes it 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. Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, are robotic geologists with instruments for
examining rocks to learn about the ancient environmental conditions that existed at the
times the rocks were formed.  Opportunity has already found exposed rock layers that were
formed in flowing surface water and other layers formed as windblown sand.  Analyzing
the layers at Victoria could extend the story further back in time.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, manages the Mars Exploration
Rover mission for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.  For additional
images and information about the mission, visit www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mer .

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