Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Space NASA

Opportunity Takes a Dip Into Victoria Crater 79

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the probably-not-skinny dept.
Muad'Dave writes "From the NASA News Release 'Today, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity entered Victoria Crater for the first time. It radioed home information via a relay by NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter, reporting its activities for the day. Opportunity drove far enough in — about four meters (13 feet) — to get all six wheels past the crater rim. Then it backed uphill for about three meters (10 feet). The driving commands for the day included a precaution for the rover to stop driving if its wheels were slipping more than 40 percent. Slippage exceeded that amount on the last step of the drive, so Opportunity stopped with its front pair of wheels still inside the crater.' This marks the beginning of perhaps the greatest 'Opportunity' for new discoveries on Mars."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Opportunity Takes a Dip Into Victoria Crater

Comments Filter:
  • I'm no baby, but this kind of sporty chance-taking is just scary. A little less gingerly and we'd be relying on the auspiciousness of luck.

    Posh.
    • Judging by the fortune attained thus far, manifest in the exceptional duration of the rovers, I feel that a little chance-taking is warranted.

      Somewhat like betting $100 at medium risk, winning $1,000 and then deciding to bet $100 again at higher risk (and reward).

      I consider luck and fortune two different things. Luck just happens: finding a briefcase of money is luck. Fortune happens when you work and work towards a goal and all you need is just a little luck at the end.
    • by bkr1_2k (237627)
      Your name isn't right. It should be "BadpunGuy".
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Calm down, lance that boil, and let the pressure out. You don't get anywhere in live without taking risks, and you can't always be concerned with laying a fatone. A man who knows what he wants and chasez it is more likely to succeed that someone who does nothing. Just in case, make contingencies (as I'm sure NASA is doing) and try to keep things synchronized.

      - Chris
  • Just... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Tastecicles (1153671) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @12:28PM (#20574561)
    ...jam that sucker into 4WD, drop the clutch and power through that thing. You can make it! That flying saucer's a light-week away!
  • At least... (Score:5, Funny)

    by lucabrasi999 (585141) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @12:29PM (#20574575) Journal
    This time, we can take comfort in knowing that someone at NASA is paying attention to the difference between feet and meters.
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      I wouldn't be so sure: (from the header)

      Opportunity drove far enough in -- about four meters (13 feet) -- to get all six wheels past the crater rim.

            Damn, those rovers are bigger than I thought... or are martian meters smaller than terran meters?
      • by VanessaE (970834)
        If it drives across the rim at anything other than a direct, 90-degree angle, it can easily take far more than rover's own length to get all six wheels past the edge.
    • by splutty (43475)

      This time, we can take comfort in knowing that someone at NASA is paying attention to the difference between feet and meters.

      Yeah. They're now using 6 wheels instead of feet. Those seem to work quite well, too, unless of course one sort of starts wobbling and ceases to function (used to happen to my lego cars all the time for some reason...)
  • First read (Score:3, Funny)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @12:29PM (#20574607) Homepage

    For a second I thought Victoria Crater sounded more like the name of a p0rn star.

    That changes the nuance of the headline significantly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by evil agent (918566)
      Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if we found new life forms in Victoria's Crater.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tgrigsby (164308)
        I would. I think we'll find life where we find water -- near the poles. What irritates me is that we're still sending probes that aren't mobile or don't at least have a mobile component. The Phoenix Mars Lander that blasted off last month (this month?) is a static probe. Why couldn't they at least have a smaller version of the rovers that could run out and bring back samples to be worked on by the probe? Anything that just sits there seems not just boring but underutilized to me. What if the lander co
        • I'm no expert, but it seems unlikely that you'd find something in a mile-long path from the landing site that you wouldn't find at the landing site. Life, as we know it at least, spreads wherever there are favorable conditions, so if there's life in one place it should also be in similar places nearby. Only way movement would make a big difference is in landing at boundaries between differing conditions (so you could check two dissimilar places) or difficult-to-land places like craters. Motion takes a lot o
        • The Phoenix Mars Lander that blasted off last month (this month?) is a static probe. Why couldn't they at least have a smaller version of the rovers that could run out and bring back samples to be worked on by the probe?

          Two reasons;

          1. The expected lifetime of the probe is pretty short - even if nuclear powered the odds of it surviving the winter are pretty slim.
          2. Bringing back samples of a useful size means a pretty good sized rover - which leaves no room on the probe for instruments to analyze the samples.
          • by tgrigsby (164308)
            1. The expected lifetime of the probe is pretty short - even if nuclear powered the odds of it surviving the winter are pretty slim.

            That doesn't make sense. Voyager is nuclear powered and still running. Battening down the hatches and using the power plant's heat to keep the rover usable is a simple engineering problem.

            2. Bringing back samples of a useful size means a pretty good sized rover - which leaves no room on the probe for instruments to analyze the samples.

            The probe is working on scoops of dirt.
            • That doesn't make sense. Voyager is nuclear powered and still running. Battening down the hatches and using the power plant's heat to keep the rover usable is a simple engineering problem.

              Voyager isn't going to be buried in several meters of ice and snow. It's far from a 'simple' engineering problem. Among other things getting rid of the excess heat (from the nuclear power source, as batteries won't cut it) when you don't need it is a significant engineering problem due to the thinness of Mars's

      • Ew, that's what Victoria's "Secret" is?
    • Well, considering they are named after their attributes, sometimes ironically:

      • Chesty Lamour
      • Long John
      • Chastity Rains

      Then, "Victoria Crater" just sounds scary, and frankly, I think a number of OB/GYN's out there would have to have a second degree in spelunking to treat her.

    • by Basehart (633304)
      If it turns out to be that kind of crater we can expect to find fleets of ships, light aircraft, hamburger stands but no hamburgers, just the stands. A disco in a cruise ship with a pool filled with shit. That would be soo cool:

      Derek & Clive [phespirit.info]
  • wow... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by that IT girl (864406)
    That is really awesome. However, am I the only person who thinks that title sounds dirty?
    • Oh you thought the headline read, "Take the opportunity a dip into victoria's crater."
      • Yep, I definitely thought "Wow, that sounds like a geeky porno!" Victoria Crater sounds like a Spock-approved lady...
    • Really nice sig! But shouldn't you have a space between "byte" and "me"? Maybe an exclamation mark too, at the end ...
      • I tried to put the actual binary for a space, but it said it was too long and that I was posting gibberish. So I had to substitute the clearly inferior "actual" space. :) Thanks!
  • Discoveries (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @12:37PM (#20574761) Homepage Journal

    This marks the beginning of perhaps the greatest 'Opportunity' for new discoveries on Mars.

    Reminds me of the old joke about a mysterious hole being found, experts are looking into it.

    That aside, I wonder what they're really expecting to find at the bottom of this crater. Any material from the blast which formed it should be available outside the crater for a large radius. Down in the crater are they expecting to examine strata to search for traces of water, life, indications of Mars earlier life? I suspect most of this, like the debris of the meteorite would be easily found outside the crater without the risk of entering it. I'm afraid once Opportunity enters the crater that's the last of it's exploring days, roaming the surface of Mars and its only Crater News Network from now on.

    to the astonishment of NASA a titleist was found at the bottom of the crater

    • [quote]to the astonishment of NASA a titleist was found at the bottom of the crater[/quote]

      Wow, ol' Alan Shepard really whacked that one, I guess....

      http://www.pasturegolf.com/archive/shepard.htm [pasturegolf.com]
    • by Quadraginta (902985) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:20PM (#20575523)
      Think of the crater as a nice hole already drilled down 20-50 meters or so. A geologist's (or in this case areologist's) dream: you can examine all the strata over a fairly wide horizontal range without having to pick up a pick or shovel (which Opportunity isn't carrying anyway).

      Yes, what was once in the crater is now obviously outside the crater, but the ejecta was spread over a large area by the impact that created the crater, and of course that materials was subject to much more violent shock and heating. I expect it wouldn't tell you nearly as much as the layers inside the crater, even assuming you could distinguish between a thin smudge of ejecta and the surrounding desert floor. Any relationship between the layers (this comes above that, et cetera) is also only preserved inside the crater.

      I'm afraid once Opportunity enters the crater that's the last of it's exploring days, roaming the surface of Mars

      Probably. That's why they waited this long to try it. But they have to balance what they might learn driving around outside the crater and what they might learn driving into the crater (and not getting out). They've probably concluded they've learned about all there is to learn outside the crater, and if they can't get out, it's worth what they'll find in the crater.

      Also bear in mind Opportunity's tools are wearing out, so its ability to do geology (as opposed to just sending back pictures) is coming to an end anyway.
    • Re:Discoveries (Score:4, Informative)

      by iamlucky13 (795185) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @02:02PM (#20576321)
      They'll mostly be looking at geology. Just from a distance they already have noticed several distinct layers in the rocks exposed inside the crater. Examining those layers close up will give them comparisons to see similarities and differences and give them clues as to how they formed (volcanic, sedimentation). Victoria is a fantastic subject because it cuts over 60 feet into the local strata.

      Sure there's ejecta outside the crater, but:
      1.) Much of it is covered up by blowing sand and it's all scattered about as opposed to conveniently in one place inside the crater.
      2.) Ejecta may be more metamorphed by the impact.
      3.) You don't know which layer a piece of ejecta comes from.
      4.) They've already studied several rocks on plains around the crater.

      They're not realistically expecting to find signs of life. The rovers are ill-equipped for that, being primarily geology tools, but they may find more evidence for water and definitely will gather more information about Mars' geological past.

      The team is well-aware that going into the crater may be the last thing Opportunity does. It may be stuck inside (although, notice the drive yesterday included a cautious backtrack most of the way out), something important may finally wear out, or the shelter from the wind may allow dust to accumulate on the solar panels to fatal levels. Opportunity has actually been at Victoria Crater, exploring the rim and surrounding area since the end of September...over 11 months ago. They wanted to be extra sure they got a clear picture of what was outside they crater before they move in.

      I wouldn't worry about it being utterly boring (except to normal people). Going into the smaller Endurance Crater previously was as cool as anything they'd done before.

      The funny part will be the broken wedge and half a dozen divots right next to the golf ball.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @12:39PM (#20574787)
    Opportunity got lucky and landed in an area with clear evidence of water sedimentation- hematite percipitation nodules and layered rock. Otherwise I expect Victoria to be all not that different from Endurance crater in 2003.

    On the other Spirit took a couple of years to find evidence of water. The first couple years it crossed a volcanic basalt landscape, may with slight evidence of water healing in rock cracks. In its current area it has crossed bright sulfer salt soils - a clear sign of water. Spirit is very gimpy now. A couple meters a week is good progress.
  • by InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @12:41PM (#20574819)
    So Opportunity is finally descending into Duck Bay, the gentlest slope on the edge of the crater. What other bays were being considered? Check out this map [nasa.gov]. Apparently, the alternatives were named "Bottomless Bay", "Bay of Toil", and "Valley Without Peril". Who comes up with these names, and how can I apply for that job?
    • by peter303 (12292) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @12:51PM (#20574995)
      These names are from Captain Cook's south sea expeditions. Once they get a theme for a region, they continue. Otherwise its girlfriends, kids, goofy shapes, etc.
      • by AySz88 (1151141) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @06:53PM (#20580545)
        The parent post is apparently meant to be a joke. For Victoria Crater, it's actually the places visited by Ferdinand Magellan's ship Victoria (i.e. the ship that completed the first circumnavigation of the globe).

        (Source: Steve Squyres, the principal investigator, who told us directly, as he teaches ASTRO 280 at Cornell. Also, this Planetary Society article [planetary.org], relevant paragraph copied below.)

        Following that suit, the MER team has chosen to name the main features around the rim -- the promontories and the alcoves -- after places that were visited by the Victoria by Magellan's expedition during it cruise around the world. "Cape Verde, Cabo Frio, and Duck Bay -- Baía dos Patos in Spanish -- were places that were visited by Magellan while he was still in the Atlantic," informed Squyres. Cape Verde is an archipelago off the west coast of Africa (located at 15.02N, 23.34W) comprised of 10 main islands and some 8 islets. "Cabo Frio and Duck Bay are both on the eastern shore of South America," he continued. "Actually, they called it Baía dos Patos because they thought they saw ducks there, but the ducks were actually penguins. Nobody had ever seen penguins before, so they didn't recognize them for what they were. But that's what they were seeing." Little did anyone realize at the beginning of the mission how much rover fans would learn about their own history through the rover jaunts across the Martian landscape.
        • I hope that when metamodded, whoever modded the parent troll gets their comeuppance. For now, somebody mod the parent informative or underrated to do great justice.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Peter Lake (260100)
      Yummy names?

      From NASA's Rover Update http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/status.html [nasa.gov]:
      "In recent months, rover handlers have been naming local features and targets around Home Plate for deceased members of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Because Home Plate is bowl-shaped, scientists have decided to name features on top of Home Plate after things served in bowls. Stay tuned for upcoming yummy descriptions!"

      Yum. I can hardly wait.
    • by ar1550 (544991)
      NASA needs to turn in its geek credentials. Where is the Botany Bay?
  • by peter303 (12292) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @12:48PM (#20574939)
    Earth cant send probes to Mars each 26 months when the energy requirements are minimal. the last cycle they just sent two orbiters (getting interesting results). But next year they'll land near the polar and dig for water ice. The 2008 laneder has no wheels, but the next one in 2009 is the largest yet. Its the size of minivan and will use retro-rocket landers instead of air-bags, and will be mostly nuclear powered instead of solar.

    I presume they'll keep a low-key program with current Rovers after May. Unexpected longevity complicates NASAs budget. Sometimes they turn them off before they are completely dead like Magellan and Galileo. (Actually they crashed them into Venus and Jupiter for terminal science experiment and to prevent contamination of Europa.)
    • I presume they'll keep a low-key program with current Rovers after May. Unexpected longevity complicates NASAs budget.

      The odd thing is that once the device is made and fired off on a rocket, far more of the money is spent than with the rest of the project. The cost to continue a project is minimal when the probe is already there.

      I don't know about Magellan, but I thought Galileo was a preventative measure, they decided they couldn't risk an uncontrolled failure so they would just kill it when they still ha
      • Hubble is an extreme case. Its lifetime cost is approaching $5 billion, but is arguably the most productive astronomical device ever. Its initial capital cost was $750 million, doubled by the first shuttle accident delays. Add 3 or 4 half billion dollar service missions and operating costs over $200 million a year.
        • Hubble doesn't really apply at all because it was intended to be serviceable. Hubble would only compare to a space probe if you remove the servicing costs, because probes aren't serviced. I'm sure the initial cost was even higher than you stated, I think the average cost of a shuttle launch is just a shade under $1B.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by JohnFluxx (413620)
          Numbers mean nothing if you can't be bothered to adjust for inflation.

          The construction cost, in todays dollars, of Hubble was closer to about $3 billion.

      • by iamlucky13 (795185) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @02:42PM (#20576963)
        You'd be surprised how much operations costs. The rover operations team size has been reduced at least twice, but their last budget extension was still $8.5 million (I forget is that was for one year or 18 months).

        Sure that's a lot less than a new mission, but it's not trivial.

        Orbiters, by the way, have a special limitation. Once they run out of manuevering fuel, they eventually become completely useless, even if they're gyro stabilized (the gyros will become saturated). As a result, once the fuel gets low, it's not uncommon to do something crazy with them. To wit:

        * Galileo plunged into Jupiter's atmosphere, recording data to the last. This was partially a protection measure to guarantee it would not contaminate Europa.
        * Magellan did the same at Venus to develop the aerobraking technique.
        * ESA Smart-1 hit the moon. The impact was studied from earth to look for water and study the geology. The same was done with Lunar Prospector.
        * Stardust and Deep Impact both have been sent to visit additional comets.
        * NEAR actually landed intact on the surface of the asteroid Eros. It was built as a mere orbiter.
    • by kimvette (919543) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:21PM (#20575553) Homepage Journal

      The 2008 laneder has no wheels, but the next one in 2009 is the largest yet. Its the size of minivan and will use retro-rocket landers instead of air-bags, and will be mostly nuclear powered instead of solar.


      Oh good grief, when will our destruction of planets ever end? Mars has been experiencing global warming at an alarming rate, ever since we landed vehicles there, and now we're sending FULL-SIZE SUVs there even though it's obvious we are the cause of global warming? Good lord, what the hell is NASA thinking? ;)
    • by jdelisle (582839)
      Interesting comments. Do you have a link that might provide a little more information? If not, I'm sure I can find something via google.
  • by ashitaka (27544) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @12:57PM (#20575109) Homepage
    As Opportunity descends into the crater it may come across that one fantastic discovery that reveals without a shadow of a doubt the historic existence of life in the water under Mars' surface. An unbelievable fact that has been hidden for Millenia will be revealed shaking the foundations of human history and culture.

    And we will now know that more than just Slashdot geeks look at Victoria's Secret.
  • With a vehicle like this [caranddriver.com], getting out of the crater would have been a cinch.
  • It radioed home information via a relay by NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter, reporting its activities for the day.
    Seriously guys, selling the Martians a package that phones home without their consent is not the route to good interstellar relations. Haven't we had enough media spectacles here at home to let us know not to do it on Mars?
  • Opportunist takes a dip into Victoria's crater?
    • I read "Opportunity to take a dip in Victoria Crater" .. and was thinking it was some sort of hot springs advertisement.
  • Its the mud that causes the problem...

"Don't discount flying pigs before you have good air defense." -- jvh@clinet.FI

Working...