The Opportunity rover has finally reached the mammoth crater Endeavour and is now sitting near its edge, looking across at the gaping bowl and hills around its rim. The beautiful panoramic images below were provided by Michael Howard of Midnight Martian, taken from the original NASA images from within just the past few days. Click on them to see them full-size.
Endeavour is about 22 kilometres (14 miles) across, and so the hills on the other side are still about that far away, while the nearest ones, Cape Tribulation and Cape Byron, are only a matter of within a few hundreds of metres. More images here.
One of Opportunity’s primary tasks at Endeavour is to study the phyllosilicates (clays) near the perimeter, which would be evidence for past more alkaline (non-acidic) water here in the past. In the early days of the mission, it seemed impossible that Opportunity could ever reach Endeavour, more than 32 kilometres (20 miles) from its landing site, but now we have passed sol 2678, of what what was supposed to be a nominal 90-sol mission… and what Opportunity may find here, relating to Mars’ watery past, would make this long wait well worth it. Not that the journey has been boring by any means, but for a long time now, almost the only thing seen by the rover, apart from a few smaller craters and meteorites, has been flat, endless expanses of dunes and bedrock. At Endeavour, Opportunity can now look at the first real large hills in its entire mission, a nice change of scenery, and the views now will only get better…!
If you want to follow the Endeavour travels more closely on a day-to-day basis, I highly recommend these two blogs dedicated to just that, On the Outside, Looking In: The Endeavour Campaign and The Road to Endeavour.