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Mars Rover examines eroded valley that can lead to clues about how it was formed

NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity has reached its next destination — a valley called Perseverance, where the long-life robot will scour the area for clues about how the massive chasm formed.

Opportunity arrived at Endurance Valley — an old function, that stretches about two football fields off of the west rim of the 14-meter-wide (22-kilometer) Endeavour Crater — on 4 May, according to a statement from NASA. Photos taken by the rover so far as to give a close-up view of the area that may not have been captured by satellites in orbit around Mars , agency officials said.

“The team of scientists is really jazzed to start to see this area up close and looking for clues to help us distinguish between multiple hypotheses about how the valley was formed,” Opportunity project scientist Matt Golombek of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in the statement. [ 13 Years On Mars! NASA’s Opportunity Rover is Still Rolling (Video) ]

Researchers speculate that Perseverance Valley formed billions of years ago by processes of erosion in which wind, water, or “debris flow in which a small amount of water-lubricated a heady mix of mud and rocks,” NASA officials said in the statement.

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  • NASA officials said in the statement

Rover team members will make use of images that are captured by the Possibility to search for variations in the structure and composition of the site when the six-wheeled robot to travel down through the valley. This work will help researchers better understand when and how the valley was formed, and possibly reveal new clues about Mars’ watery past.

The occasion will begin with the research of the area by taking a series of images from two widely separated points in a dip in the crater edge, which will make for an “extraordinarily detailed three-dimensional analysis of the terrain,” NASA officials said in the statement .

This viewpoint will help the rover team to chart a safe course for the Opportunity to travel through the valley. However, before venturing in Perseverance Valley, the rover will explore the top of the valley, west of the edge of the crater, according to the statement.

The opportunity is the investigation of the different places along Endeavour’s rim since August 2011. For the achievement of Perseverance Valley, the rover spent 2.5 years exploring a rim segment named Cape Tribulation .

Since landing on Mars in January 2004, Opportunity has led to a total of 27.8 miles (44.7 km) — farther than any other vehicle has ever traveled on a world beyond Earth.

Follow Samantha Mathewson @Sam_Ashley13 . Follow us @Spacedotcom , Facebook and Google+ . Original article on Space.com .

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