Paydirt at 8-Year-Old Mars Rover’s ‘New Landing Site’
Opportunity completed its original three-month mission on Mars eight years ago. It reached Endeavour last summer, three years after the rover’s science team chose Endeavour as a long-term destination. This crater is about 4 billion years old and 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter.
The impact that excavated the crater left a jumble of fused-together rock fragments around the rim. In a chunk brought to the surface by a later, much smaller impact into the rim, Opportunity found evidence that the original impact released heated, underground water that deposited zinc in that rock. Later after the impact, cool water flowed through cracks in the ground near the edge of the crater and deposited veins of the mineral gypsum.