PASADENA, Calif., Sept. 1 (UPI) -- NASA's Mars rover Opportunity has found rocks different from anything else the robot has studied in its first seven years of exploration, the space agency said.
Conducting work at it new location at the rim of a 14-mile crater named Endeavour, where it arrived three weeks ago, the rover has examined a footstool-sized rock apparently unearthed by an impact that dug a small crater the size of a tennis court into the larger crater's rim, a NASA release said Thursday.
"This is different from any rock ever seen on Mars," said Steve Squyres, principal investigator for Opportunity at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.
"It has a composition similar to some volcanic rocks, but there's much more zinc and bromine than we've typically seen," he said. "We are getting confirmation that reaching Endeavour really has given us the equivalent of a second landing site for Opportunity."
Observations by Mars orbiters suggest rock exposures on Endeavour's rim date from early in Martian history. Analysis has found they contain clay minerals that form in less-acidic wet conditions, possibly more favorable for life, NASA said.
Opportunity will remain at Endeavour for extended work, the agency said.
"There are miles of exciting geology to explore at Endeavour crater," John Callas, project manager for Opportunity at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said.