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MARTIAN LANDSCAPE ADVENTURE The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has reached the Red Planet's Endeavour crater after a journey of almost three years and will now begin to study rocks that have never seen before, NASA announced Wednesday.
The rover drove approximately 13 miles (21 kilometers) after climbing out of the Victoria crater, a NASA release said.
The Endeavour crater, 14 miles in diameter, features rocks and terrain much older than those examined by Opportunity during its first seven years on Mars, scientists say
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.
"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 (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif.
"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," he added.
NASA launched the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity in the summer of 2003. Both completed their three-month prime missions in April 2004 and continued years of extended operations. (ANI)