Opportunity Heading Toward Endurance Crater

NASA recently decided to extend its successful Mars Exploration Rover mission by an additional five months. Since all the primary science objectives were reached during the first three months of the mission, scientists are allowing the rovers Opportunity and Spirit to take more risks, meaning they will travel farther for longer periods of times.

Opportunity is heading to Endurance Crater, a much larger crater than the one it initial bounced into upon landing on Mars. Scientists hope there will be further evidence of water in the bedrock exposed by Endurance Crater that will help them determine just how far the ancient body of water extended and for how long it lasted. Enthusiasts of course hope one of the rovers will eventually come across a fossil embedded in a rock wall, but that might be reaching a bit.

In the above picture, the ridge of Endurance Crater can be seen just at the horizon in the upper right. It may be a month or more before Opportunity reached this target; there are plenty of lesser attractions along the way. Meanwhile, Spirit is heading for the hills; that is the Columbia Hills.