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Spotlight On Mars - Image
Another Crater in the Bag?
November 19, 2008
This black-and-white image shows a 360-degree panorama of 'Victoria Crater' straight ahead. To the left, Opportunity's wheel tracks extend toward the rover across the Martian plains. To the right is uncharted terrain.

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On Earth, hikers are set on "bagging peaks," making it all the way to the summits of mountains. On Mars, Opportunity has been bagging craters! They have nicknames like "Eagle," "Endurance," and "Victoria." Shown here, Opportunity's tracks trace the rim of Victoria Crater as the rover prepares to set out for a much bigger crater called Endeavour.

Whether Opportunity makes it to Endeavour depends on a lot of things. Getting there requires driving another 17 to 20 kilometers (10.5 to 12.5 miles), avoiding sand ripples that could trap its wheels. Opportunity also must survive harsh conditions on Mars for two more years. That's how long the trip will take.

Meanwhile, Opportunity isn't getting any younger. The rover is almost five years into a mission that was expected to last 90 days. Perhaps in time Endeavour will join other craters connected by the rover's tracks like dots on a trailblazing map.

Mars Exploration Rover Navigation Camera

Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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