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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


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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