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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


• 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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