As the Fourth of July holiday winds down, and Americans head home and back to the office, one of the NASA Martian rovers managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory will continue the spirit of independence with a journey of its own. The rover, called "Opportunity," is scheduled to begin its descent into the massive Mars crater, Victoria, after July 13.
In a press conference Thursday, June 28, NASA/JPL announced that the decision to take the aging rover into the crater is worth the risk of potential damage to the vehicle.
"We are getting more out of the science," said Alan Stern, NASA associate administrator.
It was Stern who gave the final approval for the rover to enter the crater.
This is not the first crater Opportunity has explored; it rolled into the Endurance crater at the beginning of its mission almost two years ago. This time, however, the rover is older and Martian worn.