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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


Opportunity continues to work its way up Wdowiak Ridge as it ascend southward along the rim of Endeavour crater. Currently Opportunity is examining some rocks  that were excavated and thrown out of a nearby small impact crater, Ulysses crater.

The various positions occupied by Opportunity as it works its way around several rock targets are shown on this overhead view of the local Navcam panoramas.

There was a stand-down of activities on Opportunity for a week or so as we emptied the flash memory and reformatted it following discovery of some “bad” flash memory blocks. Like re-formatting the memory card in you camera when it becomes troublesome, Opportunity simply wiped its data storage memory and reformatted it. This was completed about sol 3773 and currently it appears to have worked. Opportunity has re-commenced the long climb up this high and steep segment of the Endeavour crater rim.

• This sol is the Spring Equinox for the southern hemisphere on Mars

• Opportunity is now commencing ascent of a steep crater rim segment

• Opportunity has arrived at the base of an unusual outcrop

• Approximate 200 sol journey along “mountain ridge crest” ahead

• Opportunity now holds the distance record
• About to begin climb up the highest crater rim segment
• Brief stop this sol to look at contact with plains

Opportunity drove 48 meters on Sunday, July 27, exceeding the 21 meters necessary for it to have driven exactly 25 miles. ASt the concludion of the drive Opportunity had driven farther o=n the surface of another planet than any rover in history. This means that we have driven 25 miles actoss Mars and seen things that no one would ever have imagined that we would see.

• Opportunity has left the winter haven and is still driving south along the rim of Endeavour crater

• Currently exploring an outcrop a few meters from crater rim

• Power remains excellent but there is much driving ahead

• Opportunity  continues driving south along the rim of Endeavour crater

• Now approaching next area of outcrop

• Solar panels remain very clean, cleanest since about sol 1600

• Approaching distance driving record

Opportunity is closing in on the next important outcrop area here on the rim of Endeavour  crater. The outcrops just a hundred meters ahead have been identified from orbital remote sensing as having a strong Aluminum hydroxide feature. So these are probably going to be interesting outcrops one way or another.

• Opportunity is several weeks past winter solstice

• solar panels are the cleanest since 2006

• we are driving south along the rim

• near the crest of Murray Ridge

 

Due to a nearly continual wind or breeze at the winter location on Murray Ridge here at Endeavour crater, the solar panels are cleaner than they have been in years. The dust factor is in the high .8s (dust free = 1.0, half dust covered = 0.5). After most recent winters the dust factor has been around 0.45 - 0.50.

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