Dal blog di Steve Squyres le ultime da Marte

Non so se era già stato inserito il link al blog di Steve Squyres (responsabile scientifico dei MER) se così fosse scusate la ripetizione… negli ultimi giorni però l’eccitazione sta salendo in quanto Opportunity è ormai arrivato sul bordo del cratere Victoria, forse l’obiettivo più importante di tutta la sua navigazione, e che sembrava realmente IMPOSSIBILE da raggiungere all’inizio della missione, aspettiamo con ansia le spettacolari fotografie che arriveranno a riprova dei risultati di questo progetto che giorno dopo giorno raggiunge risultati sempre più eclatanti e inaspettati!


Albyz, ecco il comunicato NASA


Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Image Advisory: 2006-111 September 19, 2006

NASA Rover Opportunity Takes First Peek Into Victoria Crater

On Monday, NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity got to within about
160 feet of the rim of the half-mile-wide Victoria Crater,
the rover’s destination since late 2004.

The new position gave Opportunity a glimpse of the crater’s
opposite wall. That view from the navigation camera on the
rover is available online at

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mer/images/20060919.html .

“Opportunity has been heading toward Victoria for more than
20 months, with no guarantee it would ever get there, so we
are elated to see this view,” said Justin Maki of NASA’s Jet
Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., an imaging scientist
on the rover team. “However, we still have another two or
three short drives before Opportunity is really right at the
rim, looking down into the crater.”

Once Opportunity reaches the rim, the rover’s panoramic
camera will begin the task of creating a high-definition
color mosaic. That mosaic of images will provide scientists
not only with a beautiful view of the crater, but will also
provide geologic details of the crater walls.

The width of Victoria crater is the equivalent of eight
football fields placed end to end. That makes it about
five times wider than “Endurance Crater,” which Opportunity
spent six months examining in 2004, and about 40 times
wider than “Eagle Crater,” where Opportunity first landed.

The great lure of Victoria is the expectation that a thick
stack of geological layers will be exposed in the crater
walls, potentially several times the thickness that was
previously studied at Endurance and, therefore,
potentially preserving several times the historical record.
Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, are robotic geologists
with instruments for examining rocks to learn about the
ancient environmental conditions that existed at the
times the rocks were formed. Opportunity has already
found exposed rock layers that were formed in flowing
surface water and other layers formed as windblown sand.
Analyzing the layers at Victoria could extend the story
further back in time.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology,
manages the Mars Exploration Rover mission for the NASA
Science Mission Directorate, Washington. For additional
images and information about the mission, visit

www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mer .