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.

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Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet. His first published poem, "Roadside Freak Show," arrives on August 21, 2017 in Impossible Archetype.  His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey. Richard is also the Downlink Lead for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) team at the University of Arizona. He monitors images of the Martian surface taken by the HiRISE camera located on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in orbit around Mars and helps ensure they process successfully and are validated for quick release to the science community and public. Once upon a time, Richard wrote and edited the science and technology news and commentary website Frontier Channel, hosted the RADIO Frontier Channel podcast, and organized transhumanist clubs. Follow Richard on his website (richardleis.com), on Goodreads (richardleis), Twitter (@richardleisjr), and Facebook (richardleisjr).