Opportunity Update: Leaving Victoria Crater
JPL just put out a press release confirming the plan that the rover team has been aware of for a while now: Opportunity is on its way out of Victoria crater. After a lot of frustratingly difficult driving toward the crater wall at Cape Verde, we have tons of awesome images of the layers in the rock but were unable to get close enough to reach out and touch it. A current spike in one of the wheel motors about a month ago has made everyone a little nervous, and the team leaders decided that they wanted to get out of the crater and onto safe, flat ground. If the wheel failed in the crater, Opportunity would probably never escape, but a wheel failure up on the flat plains would merely slow us down. We’re making good progress on the recent drives and should be out of the crater pretty soon, unless there are unforseen difficulties.
Once out of the crater, the plan is to continue south around the crater rim and study some cobbles (rocks on the surface that may be the ejecta of nearby or distant impacts) and then probably head for some outcrops of bedrock off in the distance.