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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: 
Thursday, May 18, 2017 - 4:00pm

Sol 4734 – Sitting at the Head of Perseverance Valley

Opportunity has arrived at the head of Perseverance Valley, a possible water-cut valley here at a low spot along the rim of the 22-km diameter Endeavour impact crater. Investigations in the coming weeks will “endeavor”  to determine whether this valley was eroded by water or some other dry process like debris flows. It certainly looks like a water cut valley. But looks aren’t good enough. We need additional evidence to test that idea.

A short drive to the highest local point was done immediately after arrival and Opportunity has been working on a panorama from the overlook for the past couple of sols. The idea is to get a good overview of the valley from a high point before driving down it.  But before we drive down the valley, we want to get a good sense of the geologic features here on the head of the valley. It could come in handy as we drive down the valley and may help us understand some things, particularly the lithology of any materials we find on the valley floor or at the terminus down near the crater floor. So we will be doing a short “walk-about” here on the outside of the crater rim near the “spillway” into the valley.

Above is an overview map showing the traverse southward along the rim of Endeavour crater and the arrival at the head of Perseverance Valley. For more information about the arrival, visit NASA's Planetary Phtojournal (https://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA21496)

Above, the Navcam panoramic view acquired on sol 4730 from north to south centered on due East and into the interior of Endeavour crater. Perseverance Valley descends from the right and terminates way down near the crater floor in the center of the panorama. The “mountains” on the distant horizon are of course the far rim of Endeavour crater. (The crater floor in the mid-ground is essentially the same size and relief as the scenic view of the Valle Grande from Highway  4 in NM.)

Comparison of the MRO/HiRISE view and the view from Opportunity at the current location.


 


Archived Reports


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.   

Opportunity finished up its work on Wdowiak Ridge and has now continued southward along the rim of Endeavour crater. The ultimate goal is a large valley cutting through the crater rim that we have informally named “Marathon Valley”.

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