"NASA Mars Rover Ready For Descent Into Crater"
"PASADENA, Calif. - NASA's Mars rover Opportunity is scheduled to begin a descent down a rock-paved slope into the Red Planet's massive Victoria Crater. This latest trek carries real risk for the long-lived robotic explorer, but NASA and the Mars Rover science team expect it to provide valuable science.
Opportunity already has been exploring layered rocks in cliffs around Victoria Crater. The team has planned the descent carefully to enable an eventual exit, but Opportunity could become trapped inside the crater or lose some capabilities. The rover has operated more than 12 times longer than its originally intended 90 days.
The scientific allure is the chance to examine and investigate the compositions and textures of exposed materials in the crater's depths for clues about ancient, wet environments. As the rover travels farther down the slope, it will be able to examine increasingly older rocks in the exposed walls of the crater."
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