Mars Rover Opportunity Begins Seven Mile Journey

NASA on Monday said the Mars Rover Opportunity is set to travel across a two-year mission to a crater that is 20 times larger than one it has called home for two years. Earlier this month, the rover crawled out of the Victoria crater.

Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California are steering the probe. The mission control team at JPL said it could take two years for Opportunity to reach its destination. Still, there is no guarantee the vehicle will survive the long trip.

“We may not get there but it is scientifically the right direction to go anyway,” said Steve Squyres of Cornell University, the principal science investigator for the project. “This crater (Endeavor) is staggeringly large compared to anything we’ve seen before.”

Opportunity is well past its original three-month life expectancy. It continues to re-charge and respond to commands. The vehicle has one wobbly front wheel.

Mars Rover Opportunity is still equipped with a range of sophisticated laboratory equipment and cameras to explore rocks and soil on the Red Planet surface.

Enndeavor measures 13.7 miles across. Scientists expect to find a much deeper stack of rock layers than those at Victoria.