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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: 
Friday, July 7, 2017 - 4:00pm

With the latest drive on sol 4782, Opportunity  began the long drive down the floor of Perseverance Valley here on Endeavour crater. THis is rather historic in that it represents the first time that a rover has driven down an apparent wtaer-cut valley on Mars. Over the next few months OPportunity will explore the floor and sides of the valley for evidence of the scale and timing of the fluvial activity, if that is what is represents.

First there is the little matter of solar conjunction in a couple of weeks. Opportunity needs to be parked in a good, secure spot for the two weeks that mission operations must stand down while Mars is behind the Sun. THis current location will likely be the position during that stand down pepriod. Opportunity achieved a good 10 degree northerl tilt, so this should be power-friendly.

 

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Archived Reports


• 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

 

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.

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