NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has passed more than half of the distance on its way to the next destination.
Rover Opportunity was was launched from Florida on July 7, 2003, EDT (July 8, UTC) and landed on Mars Jan. 24, 2004, PDT (Jan. 25, EDT and UTC).
Rover was working on one crater-rim segment since mid-2011 and is now less than 800 meters from the next destination. That segment was about 2-kilometers from the next destination, where the Rover will work during the upcoming Martian winter.
“Opportunity departed the southern tip of the “Cape York” segment six weeks ago and headed south for “Solander Point.” Both are raised portions of the western rim of 14-mile-wide (22-kilometer-wide) Endeavour Crater, offering access to older geological deposits than the rover visited during its first seven years on Mars,” reported NASA.
“We are making very good progress crossing ‘Botany Bay,'” said John Callas of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., who is project manager for the nearly decade-old mission.
“The surface that Opportunity is driving across in Botany Bay is polygonally fractured outcrop that is remarkably good for driving,” said Brad Joliff, an Opportunity science team member and long-term planner at Washington University in St. Louis. “The plates of outcrop, like a tiled mosaic pavement, have a thin covering of soil, not enough to form the wind-blown ripples we’ve had to deal with during some other long treks. The outcrop plates are light-toned, and the cracks between them are filled with dark, basaltic soil and our old friends the ‘blueberries.'”