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Rover Field Reports from Mars

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

 

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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, July 5, 2018 - 11:15am

Sol 5135 - Opportunity Continues Weathering the Global Dust Event of 2018 at Perseverance Valley

Opportunity is hunkered down in the floor of Perseverance Valley here on the inner wall of Endeavour crater waiting out the global dust storm of 2018.

The outcrop currently being investigated, “La Joya”, is exposed sitting in the floor of Perseverance Valley and is an anomalous basaltic and vesicular petrology. Meanwhile the north and south walls of the valley appear to be rather clast-poor impact breccias which we believe may not be from Endeavouur crater, but instead represent a “pre-Endeavour:” lithology. And Perseverance Valley seems to have north and south walls that line up with very noticeable faults (“Socorro” and “La Bajada”) cutting through the crater rim.

Status of Dust Storm:

  • MRO/ HiRISE images acquired over the last week are mostly unusable except for the south pole and some high northern latitudes
  • MRO/MARCI reports that dust was still lifting in several locations, so the storm is not abating yet
  • Current assessment of the present storm by the Martian weather experts suggest that this storm is more like the 2001 storm than the 2007 storm. In that storm opacity (tau) did not drop below 2.0 (an acceptable number for Opportunity) until about 80 sols (Mars days) after the storm started.

Above is an oblique view of the current location of Opportunity on the inner wall of Endeavour crater showing the course of Perseverance valley. Also, high-lighted in cyan, are the two fractures or faults that appear to form the north and south margins of the south fork of the two-forked valley. The red and pink areas are the locations of unusual outcrops of basaltic rocks exposed in the floor of the valley. Outcrops outside the valley are largely impact breccias making up the wall of Endeavour crater.

 

Sol 5104, front Hazcam view from Opportunity just before the beginning of the dust storm. Opportunity is examining the outcrop target “La Joya” in the floor of Perseverance Valley. Notice the tilt. At this location Opportunity is sitting on an 18 to 20 degree tilt. Every move is calculated carefully because every move causes a down-hill slip.

View up valley from Opportunity’s current location showing the principal characteristics of Perseverance Valley at this location. This is a superposition of a color Pancam mosaic on a black and white Navcam mosaic.


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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