1. Headline
  1. Headline
Image: Rover at El Capitan
NASA / JPL
Opportunity's hazard avoidance camera provides a view of its robotic arm placed on a bedrock outcropping for an analysis of the rock. A hole previously drilled in the outcrop is visible toward the bottom of the image, and one of the rover's front wheels is in the lower right corner.
updated 2/29/2004 9:40:52 PM ET 2004-03-01T02:40:52

The Opportunity rover temporarily stowed its robotic arm and cleared a six-inch (15-centimeter) bump on its way to taking another bite out of the Martian surface, NASA said.

Sometime over the weekend, the six-wheeled robot was to grind into the upper part of a rocky outcrop dubbed “El Capitan,” then take extensive measurements, NASA said late Friday in a recorded statement.

Last week, the rover drilled into a different section of the glossy formation that has intrigued scientists.

“El Capitan” has been the rover’s primary interest for several days. The outcrop, about the height of a street curb, rings a portion of the crater in which the robot is maneuvering.

Previous microscopic images revealed fine layering in the rock and mysterious BB-sized granules that could be significant as the rover searches for signs that water has existed on the planet.

Scientists involved in the $820 million Mars mission are weighing several theories of how the rock formed, including volcanic eruptions, windblown dust and sediments settling out of a body of water.

Halfway around Mars, Opportunity’s twin, Spirit, made its final approach to “Humphrey,” an imposing rock that the rover will analyze.

Scientists expect Spirit to reach the rim of the so-called “Bonneville” crater by mid-March.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Audra Harris

    This dad battling cancer is using the time he has left to inspire

    10/24/2014 6:54:09 PM +00:00 2014-10-24T18:54:09
Breaking news
  1. 2 dead, including gunman, in Washington school shooting

    A student with a “blank stare” opened fire in a Washington high school’s cafeteria on Friday, killing one person and wounding at least two others before killing himself, police and witnesses said. 

    10/24/2014 8:11:24 PM +00:00 2014-10-24T20:11:24
  1. Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

    8 things we learned about the latest Duggar pregnancy

    10/24/2014 5:14:25 PM +00:00 2014-10-24T17:14:25
  1. Courtesy of Robyn Ross

    Needles and dating: 8 things I wish I'd known before freezing my eggs

    10/24/2014 2:50:23 PM +00:00 2014-10-24T14:50:23
  1. Alex Wong / Getty Images

    ‘Fortunate and blessed’: Ebola-infected nurse Nina Pham to go home

    10/24/2014 3:05:30 PM +00:00 2014-10-24T15:05:30
  1. Getty Images

    Royal style meets baby bump: See Duchess Kate's fashionable week

    10/24/2014 6:21:08 PM +00:00 2014-10-24T18:21:08