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Opportunity reaches edge of Endurance Crater
Posted: Fri, May 7, 2004, 1:12 PM ET (1712 GMT)
Mars Exploration Rover (NASA/JPL) The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has reached the edge of a larger crater near its landing site as scientists and engineers decide whether, and when, to send the rover into the crater. Endurance Crater, about 130 meters across and more than 20 meters deep, is about 800 meters from the smaller Eagle Crater that Opportunity landed in. First images of the interior of the crater, taken by Opportunity from its position near the rim, reveal layers of bedrock five to ten meters tall that could provide scientists with additional information regarding how much standing water was once in the area, and for how long. While scientists are eager to study those bedrock layers close-up, spacecraft engineers are concerned that if the rover went into the crater, steep slopes along its sides may make it impossible to leave. For the next few weeks Opportunity will circumnavigate the crater from the outside, surveying its interior to determine what locations would be best to use to enter the crater. Meanwhile, Opportunity's twin, Spirit, is still traveling towards the Columbia Hills, a destination project officials said the rover should reach in several weeks.
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