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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


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

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

 

One last outcrop, then solar conjunction

Opportunity is doing one last "hurrah" here at Cape York on a particularly interesting outcrop with a composition and structure unlike anything encountered before. We were about to start driving southward after the last stop, but the results came down from this strange outcrop. And unlike our tendency to avoid driving back to a previous spot, we decided we had to get more information on this rock unit. Then we have got to start driving south towards the next mountain.

Rover Memory Hiccup. We need to re-do the plan from several days ago.

Flash memory or computer problems oddly occurred on both Curiosity and Opportunity around feb 27. One possibiliy is that a large solar flare resulted in radiation at Mars sufficient to temporarily corrupt the memory on both rovers. Mars is currently a few weeks away from solar conjunction, so big flare could have happened on the other side of the Sun. 

Clean-up activities in preparation for driving south.

We sent Opportunity a few meters uphill looking for the contact and are trying to get a quick composition and microscopic image on the outcrop. It looks like the Shoemaker Formation (impact breccia). If the rock has round spherules, it would be unlike the breccias we saw elsewhere along the ridge crest.

Here is latest map that I prpepared after the sol 3219 drive. The base image for this map is a mosaic of the local Navcam panoramas reprojected in vertical presepctive.

We have been seeing lots of small light-colored veins crossing through the outcrops here on Matijevic Hill, and we have tried to get a handle on the composition of these veins  by doing multiple offsets with the APXS. It appears that the small veins are calcium sulfate, as best we can determine. In other words, they are probably gypsum like the large veins that we saw around the margins of Cape York. Here are exmples of some of theseback in the Ortiz outcrop. They are tiny, measuring at a millimeter or two in width. But they are everywhere.

This weekend we will move to another outcrop to the north and ry to get a handle on the strange newberries. And maybe take a look at the alteration zones that have caused the boxwork type structures common to these outcrops.

While we wait to get there, take a look at the chart below. If all goes well, Opportunity will break the interplanetary rover distance record by next August.

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