MER-B Opportunity – The journey of NASA’s robotic rover to Endeavour

The Mars Exploration Rover-B Opportunity began travelling toward this crater in August 2008, with the rim coming into sight on March 7, 2009, and arriving at the edge on August 9, 2011.

Endeavour averages about 200 to 300 meters deep, with an area in its southeast that goes down to 500 meters deep, according to a publication called Degradation of Endeavour Crater, Mars by the Smithsonian Institution.

The south-west depression goes down to an elevation of minus 1980 meters, the horse-shoe shaped depression sits in the south-east quadrant and is around minus 1800 to 1900 meters elevation, which is about 400 meters below the surrounding plains. It is noted that the crater has under-gone various erosion processes, with wind being one cause.

Opportunity’s View Approaching Rim of Endeavour / Image source

In August 2008, Mars Exploration Rover-B Opportunity set to reach Endeavour and began a journey towards it. On March 7, 2009, Opportunity first imaged the rim of Endeavour after driving about 3.2 kilometers since it left Victoria crater in August 2008. At that time, Opportunity was 12 kilometers from Endeavour as the Martian crow flies, but to avoid hazards, it was estimated that it would take about 30% more driving distance than that to reach Endeavour.

Based on the amount of time it had taken to drive from Victoria, it was estimated that this journey would take over one Martian year (23 months). On May 5, 2010, to avoid hazardous dune fields along the direct path between Victoria and Endeavour, the charted route between the two craters was extended to an estimated 19 kilometers.

Arrival at Spirit Point at Endeavour crater’s Cape York / Image source

On September 8, 2010, it was announced that Opportunity had reached the halfway point of the 19-kilometer journey between Victoria and Endeavour. By June 28, 2011, Opportunity was just under 2 kilometers from landfall at the rim of Endeavour.

On August 4, 2011, Opportunity was only 120 meters from the rim of Endeavour, and on August 9, 2011 Opportunity arrived at the west rim near Spirit Point. When it arrived it explored the northwest outcrops at Cape York.

Opportunity at Endeavour Crater: ‘Spirit Point’ 

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