NASA rover reaches rim of big Martian crater

August 10, 2011 - 12:30 PM
Mars Rover

In this photo released July 19, 2011 by NASA showing NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. Months after the death of the Mars rover Spirit, its surviving twin Opportunity, is poised to reach the rim of a vast crater to begin a fresh round of exploration. (AP Photo/NASA/JPL)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — NASA says its surviving Mars rover Opportunity has reached the rim of Endeavour crater after a nearly three-year trek across the surface of the red planet.

A space agency statement says the six-wheel rover signaled Tuesday that it reached a location on the rim that's been named Spirit Point in honor of Opportunity's twin, the rover Spirit that fell silent last year.

Endeavour crater is 14 miles in diameter and is expected to give Opportunity a chance to examine rocks and terrain that are much older than any previously studied by the rover.

Opportunity and Spirit landed on Mars in 2004 in search of geologic evidence that the cold and dusty planet was once warmer and wet. Efforts to regain contact with Spirit ended earlier this year.