NASA reports that the seemingly-unstoppable robotic geologist Opportunity is finding things at Endeavour crater that it has never seen before, adding new life to a mission that has already been epic. Observations “suggest that rock exposures on Endeavour’s rim date from early in Martian history and include clay minerals that form in less-acidic wet conditions, possibly more favorable for life.” In a teleconference today, one mission scientist compared this new phase of exploration to a “whole new mission.” More information, including lots of pictures, here.
Another in a series of parting shots of Victoria Crater as Opportunity drove along its length, heading south toward an even larger feature several kilometers away. This is a composite of two false-color images.
Update: here’s another excellent, natural-color version from James Canvin:
The robotic geologist Opportunity is back on the road, heading for a huge crater called Endeavour. It’s 12 kilometers away. That distance represents a daunting odyssey, especially for a machine that is several years past its warranty. Then again, no one ever thought it would come this far. This shot captures the rover’s antennae and the rim of the crater it’s leaving behind.
Here’s one more look back at the ripples of sand at the crater’s edge, color work courtesy of James Canvin:
A view from the edge of Victoria Crater, where Opportunity recently emerged back out onto the Meridiani Plains. Next comes renewed driving across the open landscape. Mission planners have said they plan to look for ejecta, rocks that were blasted out of craters far away, which gives the rover a chance to examine material from distant locations.