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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


Another New Mexico name gets used for a Mars outcrop target.

The drive to the current target went well. But Opportunity will need to do some “adjustment” bumps in order to put the target in the work volume of the IDD. Because the IDD has a bad shoulder joint, Opportunity can only operate the arm in a single plane, more or less. So the part of any outcrop target that we would like to examine has to be pretty much in that plane and reachable. So careful positioning is necessary with particularly small targets like the one we are attempting to analyze.

We finished up with examination of  the big outcrop ("Copper Cliff") and moved to the next target over the weekend.

So we bumped towards the big outcrop ("Copper Cliff"). In the next plan we will center the rover work volume on a target that we have selected.

An attempt to bump left and get a small bright vein into the IDD work volume failed to get the target in the work plane. The Rover Planners figure that it could take several attempts to acquire such a tiny target. So the Science Team decided on Wednesday to bag it and move on to bigger fish. The decision was made to drive to the outcrop to the immediate west "Copper Cliff". On Friday we will then plan how to proceed. If lucky, we will have one of the lithologies within the work volume. If not, we will determine what we want to examine and bump to it for planning on Monday.

 

Opportunity Rover: Finished Outcrop Walk, Starting Detailed Examination of Outcrops, Looking for Clays

 

We on the MER Opportunity science team are currently doing an “outcrop walk” with Opportunity on the slopes of Cape York, a small residual part of the rim on the 20+ km diameter Endeavour crater, Mars.  This part of Cape York where we are currently exploring is where we have evidence for ancient clays and we would like to examine them. On Earth, when mapping the geology of an area, a geologist often walks around getting a general feel for what outcrops are present and what particular outcrops will be the best for sampling or for testing  a particular hypothesis.

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