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NASA rover arrives at Martian crater Endeavour

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WASHINGTON (BNS): Wrapping up a three-year long journey on the surface of Mars, NASA rover Opportunity has arrived at its destination, the vast Endeavour crater of the planet.

The golf cart-sized six-wheeled rover relayed its arrival at a location named ‘Spirit Point’ on the crater’s rim on Wednesday.

The spacecraft drove nearly 13 miles (21 kilometers) from its previous halt, the Victoria crater on the Martian surface, to reach Endeavour – the fourth and perhaps the final destination point for it.

Endeavour is a 22.5-kilometre-wide depression near the Red Planet’s equator and is believed to house oldest rock deposits.

At Endeavour, scientists expect to see much older rocks and terrains than those examined by Opportunity during its first seven years on Mars, NASA said.

Endeavour became a tantalizing destination after NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter detected clay minerals that may have formed in an early warmer and wetter period, it said.

“We’re soon going to get the opportunity to sample a rock type the rovers haven't seen yet,” said Matthew Golombek, Mars Exploration Rover science team member, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“Clay minerals form in wet conditions so we may learn about a potentially habitable environment that appears to have been very different from those responsible for the rocks comprising the plains,” Matthew said.

NASA had launched Opportunity along with its twin rover Spirit to Mars in 2003 on a three-month mission. However, both the spacecraft outlived their mission period and continued to explore Mars for nearly seven years.

While the rover Spirit was pronounced dead in May this year after it ceased all communications with the space agency, its surviving twin Opportunity continues its journey.

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Mars  NASA  Opportunity  
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