The Mars Exploration Rovers are moving ahead to study a hill, a depression and a very large crater.


Hi, I'm Ashley Stroupe, one of the rover drivers for Spirit and Opportunity. I’m here in the Surface Mission Support Area, where we do all of our analysis of the data that the rovers send back everyday, and I'm here to give you an update on our rovers.

Now that Spirit has completed her studies of Home Plate and Silica Valley, and survived the long cold winter, the scientists want her to travel on to two interesting science features in the south. They're called von Braun Hill and the depression, Goddard.

They're thought to be remnants of ancient volcanic activities. The shortest distance to these features is due south across the top of Home Plate. But, that is requiring Spirit to do the very difficult task of climbing up the 30-degree hill that she's parked on.

We weren't sure that Spirit would be able to make this difficult climb. But, in hopes that the rover would once again surprise us, we made the first attempt on October 22nd (sol 1709). Spirit, in fact, defied the odds and climbed 8 centimeters up that hill, on her very first try.

Meanwhile, Opportunity has completed an amazing two-year campaign at Victoria crater. Her next goal, Endeavor crater is twelve kilometers to the southeast and that journey will take her more than one year to complete. She had begun this journey in earnest, when we had our last view of Victoria crater, about two weeks ago, on sol 1683. Wind has helped keep Opportunity's solar panels relatively clean, that with an increase in power that we're getting from the sun, is enabling her to make long drives each day. We're averaging more than 60 meters and sometimes getting more than 200 meters. This greatly improves her chances of getting to Endeavor.

Now, with Victoria far out of sight, Opportunity is driving through some amazing etched terrain and is now surrounded by beautiful sand ripples.

So, for the near future, both Spirit and Opportunity are going to be concentrating on driving toward their next science goals. Of course we will stop here and there as we find interesting science targets along the way.   I'm Ashley Stroupe and this is your Mars Rover Report.
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