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Emily LakdawallaMay 27, 2010

Is this the eastward turn we've all been waiting for?

As I discussed on Monday, Opportunity is in the middle of a lengthy trek toward a crater named Endeavour and its tantalizing upraised smectite-bearing rim. From Victoria crater, Endeavour lay to the southeast. Yet, since departing Victoria, Opportunity has been heading not southeast, but determinedly south, even west of south. Here's a view from Google Mars:

Google Mars: Opportunity

Google / basemap by ESA / DLR / FU Berlin Gerhard Neukum / NASA / JPL-Caltech / UA

Google Mars: Opportunity
This image features add-ons, including an additional background layer, based on HiRISE image(s) covering the area outside map provided by Google Earth, by S.F.J.Cody / route map layer, including labeled ground features, starting at Victoria Crater by Eduardo Tesheiner; planned route layer starting at Concepción, based on a paper by Tim Parker posted at Unmanned Spaceflight.com, also by Tesheiner.

When, oh when, rover fans have been asking, will Opportunity finally turn east toward Endeavour?

Well, it may finally have happened! Maybe. Here's Eduardo Tesheiner's route map as of sol 2,252. The last sol's drive is definitely headed toward the east. Will the drives keep going east? Will sol 2,252 mark a turning point in Opportunity's trek to Endeavour? I don't know! The only way to find out is to keep watching!

Small section of Opportunity's Route Map to sol 2252

NASA / JPL-Caltech / UA / Eduardo Tesheiner

Small section of Opportunity's Route Map to sol 2252
On sol 2,252, Opportunity ventured about 55 meters, its heading a little bit south of east. Is this finally the beginning of the long-awaited eastward turn toward Endeavour crater?

Read more: Opportunity, mission status, Mars Exploration Rovers, Mars

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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