Field Notes 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.
Sol 3623 – April 3, 2014
• Opportunity is several weeks past winter solstice
• solar panels are the cleanest since 2006
• we are driving south along the rim
• near the crest of Murray Ridge
Due to a nearly continual wind or breeze at the winter location on Murray Ridge here at Endeavour crater, the solar panels are cleaner than they have been in years. The dust factor is in the high .8s (dust free = 1.0, half dust covered = 0.5). After most recent winters the dust factor has been around 0.45 - 0.50.
Opportunity's current location on the rim of Endeavour crater and Murray Ridge. After we take a look at the local outcrops up here on the ridge crest, and maybe drive to the local summit for a good view of the crater, we will start driving south along the west side of the rim.
The next long-term target is about 600 m south along the west side of the crater rim. There are some large outcrops down there and the orbital remotes sensing suggests that there are significant clays. WE want to get a handle on how the clays form, and what was the environment of formation for the rocks that the clays occur in.
Power has been steadily increasing. The wild thing is that it was already increasing before winter solstice thanks to continual solar panel cleaning. The dust factor is outrageous. The panels are just 13 percent shy of being as clean as they were the day Opportunity landed!
End of drive Hazcams, front and rear. There is a lot of rubble between outcrops. Note that Opportunity is starting to do shadow selfies again.
It is even doing shadow selfies with Navcams. Here it is two sols ago approaching the outcrop where it is situated on this sol. WE believe these outcrops to be some of the impact breccias that make up the upper parts of the crater rim. But a few sols ago we were seeing some dark rocks that were not breccias. So we are making certain that we know what the distribution of lithologies are here before we start trekking south. We might see these rocks again and it would help if we have a good handle on them.
The same scene as above, but the part looking out across the Endeavour crater floor. Note the small impact crater on the far rim, which is 22 kilometers away. The floor of the crater, which is equivalent to the Valle Grande here in New Mexico, is covered with dark sands.
The outcrop in front of Opportunity as of this sol. It looks like we will continue to drive south. This turns out to be a difficult outcrop to get wheels on top of. Right now the thinking is that we will go ahead and drive to the local summit for a good view of the crater interior and the drives ahead to the south.
? The NM Museum of Natural History MER 10th Anniversary Exhibit opened here on January 24
? Opportunity is still at its "winter haven" on the crest of Murray Ridge
? Opportunity finally finished its study of the "jelly donut" rock Pinnacle Island
? Opportunity is looking now at some odd, possibly mineralized rocks
? Today is Opportunity's tenth birthday
? Opportunity is at its "winter haven" on the crest of Murray Ridge
? Opportunity is investigating the "mystery rock" Pinnacle Island
? Power is good due to panel cleaning events
- Opportunity is near summit of this part of Endeavour crater rim
- the rock types that we have searched for may be in local outcrops
- winter power is looking good
- the climb continues along the crest of the crater rim
- Opportunity is now very high and the view is starting to be spectacular
- possible important outcrops spotted ahead
- Opportunity has begun the ascent of Solander Point
- northward tilts of 15 ? or better at the end of each drive
- outcrops look like impact breccias back on the crest of Cape York
- Opportunity "wades ashore" at Solander Point on September 13
- climbing Solander Point is imminent
- spectacular Navcam panorama of the major geologic contact at this location
Opportunity is at the base of Solander Point. A boulder field here appears to be mostly vesicular basalt, a rock type that is not local. Shortly Opportunity will drive northwest along the scarp at the base of Solander Point.
The opportunity is less than 100m from "landfall" 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?
The Opportunity is about to finish the last observations in the plains before arrival at the next mountain, there is a short stop here to measure one last rock in the planes.
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 has exceeded 37 kilometers of odometry, has driven up onto the next "island" of rock, "Sutherland Point" and "Nobbys Head" as of sol 3325, and is currently is only about 700 m from the goal, the mountains to the south.
Opportunity has driven up onto the bench on the east side of Sutherland Point.
Since sol 3308 Opportunity has been driving south, on sol 3315 Opportunity reached the end of Cape York" and is now driving in the "plains".
Opportunity finishes studies at Matijevic Hill and begins the drive south and breaks off-Earth driving distance record set by Apollo 17.
Opportunity is doing one last "hurrah" here at Cape York before solar conjunction on a particularly interesting outcrop with a composition and structure unlike anything encountered before.
Rover Memory Hiccup.
Flash memory or computer problems oddly occurred on both Curiosity and Opportunity around Feb 27.
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.
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.
We moved north to an outcrop we called "Flack Lake" recently and did a quick look at the rocks with the MI and APXS.
Completed the bump and may have the target in the work volume....
Another New Mexico name gets used for a Mars outcrop target.
We finished up with examination of the big outcrop ("Copper Cliff") and moved to the next target over the weekend.
Traveling towards to big outcrop "Copper Cliff".
The decision was made to drive to the outcrop to the immediate west "Copper Cliff".
Finished Outcrop Walk, Starting Detailed Examination of Outcrops, Looking for Clays
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.