NASA's veteran Mars rover driving to new spot

Associated Press
This image provided by NASA shows a panoramic view from NASA's Mars Exploration rover Opportunity of "Solander Point." The space agency said Friday June 7, 2013, the six-wheel, solar-powered rover is driving to a new spot in Endeavour Crater after spending 20 months at a site brimming with evidence of water-altered rocks. Opportunity began the trip to its next destination, Solander Point, several weeks ago so that it can be in place well before the next Martian winter. (AP Photo/NASA)
.

View gallery

LOS ANGELES (AP) — NASA's Opportunity rover is rolling across the Martian surface again, leaving behind a clay-rich rock in search of more discoveries.

Mission managers said Friday that the plan calls for arriving at its new destination — 1 1/2 miles to the south — by August so that the solar-powered rover can be in a favorable spot before the next Martian winter.

Opportunity has been exploring Endeavour Crater since 2011. It's the largest of five craters examined by the six-wheel rover so far and contains some of the oldest deposits dating back to the first billion years of Mars' history.

Before trekking off last month, Opportunity used a grinder to scrape away the top layer of a light-colored rock for a peek inside. The rock was so lumpy and covered with crud that it took the rover several tries to crack open its secrets.

Unlike other rocks that Opportunity inspected during the past nine years, the latest told a different story: It contained clay minerals, a sign that water coursed through it, and formed in an environment that might have been suitable for microbes.

Previous rock studies by Opportunity pointed to a watery past on Mars, but scientists said the water was acidic.

"This is water you can drink," said mission chief scientist Steve Squyres of Cornell University.

Since landing on opposite ends of the red planet in 2004, Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, have impressed scientists with their longevity. Both outlasted their original, three-month warranty.

While Opportunity continues to plow ahead, Spirit's mission came to an end when it got stuck in sand and stopped communicating in 2010.

Project manager John Callas said Opportunity showed signs of wear, but was otherwise in good health. It recently experienced a bout of amnesia with its flash memory, but Callas said it was not serious.

Opportunity is not the only Mars rover on the move. Earlier this week, NASA said its newest rover, Curiosity, will soon head to a Martian mountain.

___

Follow Alicia Chang at http://twitter.com/SciWriAlicia

View Comments (58)

Recommended for You

  • Police officer shot after responding to wrong home

    ATLANTA (AP) — A police officer was shot and critically wounded Monday when he responded to a call of a suspicious person and showed up at the wrong house, authorities said.

    Associated Press
  • Man sentenced to life with no parole walks free in Missouri

    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man sentenced to life in prison without parole on a marijuana-related charge walked out of a Missouri prison a free man on Tuesday, after spending two decades behind bars.

    Associated Press
  • Woman Becoming Nun Needs Friend's Interest, Not Concern

    DEAR ABBY: I was best friends with "Joanne" after we met in middle school. She comes from a conservative Christian family and has three successful siblings. This has made her quirky, media-driven pursuits and city life a disappointment to her family. When we were teens and she learned that I was a…

    Dear Abby
  • Video of Israeli soldier arresting boy becomes latest in war of perception

    A soldier pins a boy down and is assaulted by his family: The scene might have gone unnoticed if not for footage that has turned it into another weapon in the Israel-Palestinian war of perception. Palestinians see it as proof of Israel's abuses in the occupied West Bank, while many Israelis say the…

    AFP
  • Sheriff: Suspect kills mother, stepfather, grandmother

    Outfitted in camouflage and armed with a high-powered rifle and 100 rounds of ammunition, Robert Seth Denton fatally shot his mother, stepfather and grandmother while six children witnessed the carnage in the family's double-wide mobile home in eastern Tennessee, a sheriff said Monday.

    Associated Press
  • All eyes on Manchester United as deadline day dawns

    Manchester United were the centre of attention as the Premier League's transfer deadline day dawned on Tuesday, with moves involving David de Gea and Anthony Martial awaiting completion. Goalkeeper De Gea had appeared on the brink of a move to Real Madrid worth between 30 million ($33.8 million)…

    AFP
  • With help, small island states ditch diesel for cheaper, cleaner energy

    By Megan Rowling BARCELONA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - After oil prices hit a record high in July 2008, the tiny Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands was forced to declare an economic emergency since around 90 percent of its energy needs were met by imported petroleum products. The fuel price…

    Reuters
  • This versatile 15-in-1 Travel Jacket is Kickstarter’s most funded piece of clothing at $7.2M

    Remember the MacGyver Travel Jacket that has 15 compartments that each have their own designated functions? It turns out that so many people loved the idea of having such a “smart” jacket that the project became the most funded piece of clothing in Kickstarter history, topping $7.2 million in…

    BGR News
  • View

    Kentucky county clerk refuses to issue same-sex marriage licenses (26 photos)

    Gay couples in a Kentucky county are expected at the courthouse door Tuesday morning after the Supreme Court ruled against a defiant clerk who has refused to hand out marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Supreme Court ruled against the county clerk who refused to issue gay marriage licenses,…

    Yahoo News
  • Investigators: Arizona woman acknowledges drowning twin sons

    PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona woman told investigators that she drowned her 2-year-old twin sons and tried to kill her 3-year-old stepbrother in the same way because she didn't want them to live with the difficulties she faces.

    Associated Press
  • Daughter Deep In Debt Needs Counseling, Not More Money

    DEAR ABBY: Three years ago I gave my adult daughter, married with a child, more than $16,000 to help pay off her debts because she couldn't pay her bills. She and her husband maintain separate accounts, which I find odd. He pays certain expenses; she pays others. Now I find she's deep in debt again…

    Dear Abby
  • View

    The back alleys of one of America’s most dangerous cities (31 photos)

    High-tech policing and a renewed focus on community-officer partnerships are helping to bring calm to Camden, N.J., but it hasn’t been a cure-all. The impoverished town of 77,000 is still the most violent and crime-plagued city in the Garden State. A local policeman recently took Yahoo News…

    Yahoo News
  • Boko Haram killers on horseback massacre nearly 80 in NE Nigeria

    Suspected Boko Haram gunmen on horseback shot dead nearly 80 people in attacks on three villages in Nigeria's restive northeast at the weekend, a vigilante and residents told AFP on Monday. Babakura Kolo, a vigilante fighting Boko Haram, said 68 people were killed in the attack on Baanu village in…

    AFP
  • Obama slams 'completely unacceptable' cop killing

    President Barack Obama vowed Monday to push for police officer safety after a Texas sheriff's deputy was gunned down from behind and shot multiple times at close range. Darren Goforth, 47, was killed late Friday in the Houston area, and local officials have blamed ramped-up rhetoric against police…

    AFP
  • Women are not getting treated for menopausal symptoms

    By Roxanne Nelson (Reuters Health) - Many women with severe menopausal symptoms are not being treated for them even though safe, effective remedies are available, a study from Australia suggests. The findings may be applicable to other countries, too, according to senior author Dr. Susan R. Davis…

    Reuters
  • World markets extend losses as China falters again

    Global stock markets plunged further on Tuesday as more gloomy evidence emerged of China's economic slowdown, leading to heavy sell-offs in Asia and Europe.

    AFP
  • Missouri man faces execution for raping, killing 15-year-old

    ST. LOUIS (AP) — An inmate scheduled to be executed Tuesday for killing a 15-year-old Missouri girl has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt his punishment, saying the death penalty is unconstitutional.

    Associated Press
  • Big guns in east Ukraine fall silent, two more die from wounds in Kiev protests

    Sporadic shelling and shooting, which each side has blamed on the other, had ensured a steadily mounting death toll despite the ceasefire called as part of a peace plan worked out in Minsk, Belarus, in February. More than 6,500 people have been killed since a separatist rebellion erupted there in…

    Reuters