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Rover Field Reports from Mars

Status Reports for MER Opportunity Rover at Endeavour Crater, Meridiani Planum

 

L. Crumpler, MER Science Team & New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science

The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is still exploring Mars. Below is a brief field report summary of its latest activity.

 


Latest Report


Publish Date: 
Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - 2:30pm

Opportunity is doing a geologic walkabout at the entrance to Perseverance Valley. There is an odd trough-like feature leading into the entrance of the valley and the natural suspicion is that it could be the water course that supplied the valley. We would like to get a look at the geologyto see if that is what formed the trough. Also, once Opportunity starts descending the valley, it will not be driving back up slope. We fully intend to exit out the bottom of the valley inside Endeavour crater. So any questions we have about bwhat went into the valley to form it, we need to ask and answer now.

Mean while, there is the mater of solar conjunction coming up in  a few weeks. Solar conjunction is a period of two to three weeks during which Mars is behind the sun or nearly so, and communications wibetween Earth and Mars is a bit sketchy. We have decided to wait outside the valley until solar conjunction is over. Then Opportunity will begin the descent in ernest. That will be around the beginning of August.


 


Archived Reports


Opportunity is back in communication after the two-week blackout of solar conjunction. We will be cleaning up activities here where Opportunity is sitting on the edge of a feature known as “Spirit of Saint Louis crater.”

Sol  4039 - Two Week Period of Solar Conjunction Begins

Since my last post Opportunity has successfully driven from the summit of Cape Tribulation (the name we gave the highest point on the rim). The goal has been to arrive at a deep notch or valley ("Marathon Valley") in the crater rim by about March 15. Remote sensing from the orbiting Mars Reconnaissance Obiter (MRO) has shown that some spectacular exposures of weathered and altered minerals should be exposed there. That is always a clue that it is geologically very interesting in more than just minerals and chemistry.

Opportunity just finished up the super crater overview panorama, pulled away from the summit (here at -1380 m) and we are on our way to Marathon Valley! It's all downhill (about 70 m down in elevation) from here.

Above is a map showing the drive and 1 m contours. Note the small impact crater a few meters to the SW which is visible in the Navcam posted below.

Opportunity made it to the summit!! The view is spectacular. From here we can see all the way to the other side of the crater, we can see the rim looking north along the path to this location, and we can see far to the south, including another large impact crater that lies 10 km or so south of Endeavour.

We will be doing a Pancam color summit panorama over the next few days before moving on. Here is the Navcam pan from this location.

Despite memory problems, Opportunity is forging ahead and is now approaching the highest point on the rim of Endeavour crater. The view is beginning to be spectacular.

Above is part of the Navcam view taken on sol 3893. The view looks across the deck of the rover toward the summit which is now just a few meters away. ON the left you can see the flloor of Endeavour crater and the far rim 12 miles away.

Opportunity is continuing its drives along the rim of the 22-km diameter impact crater Endeavour. In the next few drives it will be at or near the highest peak along the rim, Cape Tribulation summit. At that point Opportunity will be as high in elevation on Mars as it will ever be. The panoramic view from that summit should be awesome. Mid summer is only a few sols away.   

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