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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


• less than 100m to go before “land fall” on Solander Point

• the next drive will put Opportunity at the “shore”

• a “new world” is about to be explored; what strange rocks and structures will we encounter?

 

• About to finish last observations in the plains before arrival at the next mountain

• There is a short stop here to measure one last rock in the plains

• Launch occurred over 10 years ago!

 

• Opportunity is only a couple of hundred meters out and closing fast on the next mountain

• A short side trip east is in the works to check out an anomaly in the terrain

 

• Opportunity just turned 5 Mars years old (a few months short of 10 Earth years)
• Opportunity just exceeded 37 kilometers of odometry
• On Sol 3325 Opportunity has driven up onto the next “island” of rock,  “Sutherland Point” and “Nobbys Head.”
• On this sol Opportunity is only about 700 m from the goal, the mountains to the south.

Overview Map Showing Status of Drive South. Here is the latest map showing the entire route driven by Opportunity on the rim of Endeavour crater since arriving in 2011.

• Opportunity has driven up onto the bench on the east side of Sutherland Point.

• The next drive will be slightly west of south and into that narrow zone to the immediate south of Sutherland Point

• Since sol 3308 Opportunity has been driving south

• On sol 3315 Opportunity reached the end of Cape York; now driving in the “plains”

Opportunity finally started driving south from its location on the outcrop where it had been since solar conjunction. Below are a couple of maps showing the current location (red circles) and the position on the outcrop (light blue circle) before it started the drive south. Downlinks have been poor for various reasons. So there is not a lot of image data down yet from all the driving this past week.

• Finally Opportunity finishes studies at Matijevic Hill and begins the drive south

• Opportunity breaks off-Earth driving distance record set by Apollo 17

 

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