NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology JPL HOME EARTH SOLAR SYSTEM STARS & GALAXIES SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY JPL Email News RSS Mobile Video
Follow this link to skip to the main content
JPL banner - links to JPL and CalTech
left nav graphic Overview Science Technology The Mission People Spotlights Events Multimedia All Mars
Mars for Kids
Mars for Students
Mars for Educators
Mars for Press
+ Mars Home
+ Rovers Home
Mars for Press
Summary
Press Releases
Press Kits
Fact Sheets
Image Gallery
Press Releases

June 08, 2011

Opportunity Heads Toward 'Spirit Point'

Eagle to Endeavour: Opportunity's Path, Sol 2609
Eagle to Endeavour: Opportunity's Path, Sol 2609
The yellow line on this map shows where NASA's Mars Rover Opportunity has driven from the place where it landed in January 2004
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Images and Captions
When NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity reaches the rim of a large crater it is approaching, its arrival will come with an inspiring reminder.

This crater, Endeavour, became the rover's long-term destination nearly three years ago. Opportunity has driven about 11 miles (18 kilometers) since climbing out of Victoria crater in August 2008, with Endeavour crater beckoning to the southeast. The rover has about 2 miles (about 3 kilometers) to go before reaching the rim of Endeavour.

Rover team members last week selected "Spirit Point" as the informal name for the site on the rim where Opportunity will arrive at Endeavour crater. The choice commemorates Opportunity's rover twin, Spirit, which has ended communication and finished its mission.

"Spirit achieved far more than we ever could have hoped when we designed her," said Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., principal investigator for the rovers. "This name will be a reminder that we need to keep pushing as hard as we can to make new discoveries with Opportunity. The exploration of Spirit Point is the next major goal for us to strive for."

Endeavour offers the setting for plenty of productive work by Opportunity. The crater is 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter -- more than 20 times wider than Victoria crater, which Opportunity examined for two years. Orbital observations indicate that the ridges along its western rim expose rock outcrops older than any Opportunity has seen so far. Spirit Point is at the southern tip of one of those ridges, "Cape York," on the western side of Endeavour.

Opportunity and Spirit completed their three-month prime missions on Mars in April 2004. Both rovers continued for years of bonus, extended missions. Both have made important discoveries about wet environments on ancient Mars that may have been favorable for supporting microbial life.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Exploration Rover Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. More information about the rovers is online at: http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.html.

###

Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov

NEWS RELEASE: 2011-174


USA.gov
PRIVACY    |     FAQ    |     SITEMAP    |     CREDITS