Opportunity has been probing the red planet on six wheels since its landing in 2014. This Sunday, Guy Webster from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (California, Pasadena), wrote an article on NASA‘s website talking about the rover’s latest quest.

The rover team wants to conquer the “Knudsen Ridge” which is on the Southern edge of the Marathon Valley. The slope is very steep and the specialists calculated that the six aluminum wheels would have to spin more times in order to get on top of it.

The rovers’ unique wing-shaped solar panels provide more surface area to collect the weak martian sunlight. That also means more area to get covered in the fine, reddish dust! Engineers expected some dust to accumulate on the panels. Credit: Mars NASAOp

According to the calculations, they set the rotation of the wheels, but the hill was too slippery and the rover barely moved. The original goal was to move 66 feet (20 meters), but the slippage was so great, it only moved 3.5 inches (9 centimeters).

The team is not discouraged by the setback. In fact, the rover is already moving towards a new target. In the article, there is a picture taken by the rover. It shows its own shadow while it moves to the next climb.

Both the previous and next target are surrounding a zone of high value. When NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter visited the planet scouting for minerals, it found clay formations. And this kind of mineral can only form when a source of water is present.

Opportunity made its first record when it climbed the “Burning cliffs”. However, in its last drive on March 31, it broke that record. Which means, even though the main objective was not accomplished, the rover managed to move a significant distance on the steepest slope it has tried so far.

Spirit and Oppy posted a picture on Twitter:

Credit: Mars NASA