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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


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.

We completed the bump and may have the target in the work volume....we think.

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