New Delhi: NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has captured an exciting view of the upper Perseverance Valley on the Red Planet.
The rover recorded a panoramic view before entering the upper end of a fluid-carved valley that descends the inner slope of a large crater's rim.
As per NASA, the scene includes a broad notch in the crest of the crater's rim, which may have been a spillway where water or ice or wind flowed over the rim and into the crater.
"It is a tantalizing scene," said Opportunity Deputy Principal Investigator Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis. "You can see what appear to be channels lined by boulders, and the putative spillway at the top of Perseverance Valley. We have not ruled out any of the possibilities of water, ice or wind being responsible."
Wheel tracks visible in the area of the notch were left by Opportunity as the rover studied the ground there and took images into the valley below for use in planning its route, adds NASA.
Pancam, Opportunity's panoramic camera, took the component images of the scene during a two-week driving moratorium in June 2017 while rover engineers diagnosed a temporary stall in the left-front wheel's steering actuator.
On July 7, 2017, Opportunity drove to the site within upper Perseverance Valley where it will spend about three weeks without driving while Mars passes nearly behind the sun from Earth's perspective, affecting radio communications.
The rover's current location is just out of sight in the Sprained Ankle panorama, below the possible spillway. Opportunity is using Pancam to record another grand view from this location.
After full communications resume in early August, the team plans to drive Opportunity farther down Perseverance Valley, seeking to learn more about the process that carved it.
Opportunity, launched on July 7, 2003 as part of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover program, is a robotic rover active on the Red Planet since 2004.
The main goal of the mission is to search for answers about the history of water on Mars.
Key findings of the rover include uncovering some of the key chemical ingredients for life, which means ancient Mars could have supported living microbes, and strong evidence that Meridiani Planum was soaking wet in the past.