US space agency NASA has decided to send its Mars rover Opportunity on an 11km, two-year trek to try to reach a huge crater. Opportunity arrived on Mars in January 2004 to conduct a three month mission. The rover has since proven extremely rugged, far exceeding initial expectations and still beaming back data more than 4 years after its original mission.
Yet even given this fantastic track record, the new assignment will still be extremely tough: On the rock-littered Martian plains the rover will not be able to cover more than 100m per day in summer, and will be completely immobilized during the Martian winter because there is not enough sunlight to provide sufficient power for driving. If the rover does manage to complete its 2 year journey, it will be treated to a fantastic view over the 22km Endeavour crater, where it will also be able to analyze a broad range of rocks at the crater's edge.