A Crater of Clues to Mars' Buried Past
This approximate true-color image taken by the panoramic camera on the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows the impact crater known as "Endurance." Scientists are eager to explore Endurance for clues to the red planet's history. The crater's exposed walls provide a window to what lies beneath the surface of Mars and thus what geologic processes occurred there in the past. While recent studies of the smaller crater nicknamed "Eagle" revealed an evaporating body of salty water, that crater was not deep enough to indicate what came before the water. Endurance may be able to help answer this question, but the challenge is getting to the scientific targets: most of the crater's rocks are embedded in vertical cliffs. Rover planners are currently developing strategies to overcome this obstacle.
Presently, Opportunity is perched 40 centimeters (15.7 inches) away from the crater's edge. Endurance is roughly 130 meters (430 feet) across.
This image mosaic was taken by the panoramic camera's 480-, 530- and 750-nanometer filters on sols 97 and 98. It consists of a total of 258 individual images.
Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell