Saturday, September 30, 2006
Twenty-one months into its impressively long mission, the NASA rover Opportunity has reached its newest target. Victoria Crater is an impressive half-mile-wide hole in the Martian surface, but what excites scientists are the walls showing layers of exposed rock. The mission's Principal Investigator, Steve Squyres of Cornell, describes the crater as "a geologist's dream come true...Those layers of rock, if we can get to them, will tell us new stories about the environmental conditions long ago. We especially want to learn whether the wet era that we found recorded in the rocks closer to the landing site extended farther back in time. The way to find that out is to go deeper, and Victoria may let us do that."