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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: 
Monday, March 13, 2017 - 10:30am

Opportunity has begun the drive down the long descending southward slope of the rim crest here. The destination is a notch in the rim of Endeavour crater which is also the head of a small and ancient water-cut valley. There is a good view south along the rim from this location, although a dusty one.

The view behind us shows that we are driving on a relatively smooth terrain of regolith, while to the east (left in this view) there are substantial outcrops of the impact crtaer breccias making up the crater rim. This is also the highest point on the rim. After this location we will be descending a good 100 meters or so to the next target on the rim.

The Pancam panorama looking south and the drive ahead shows where we are going. The bright mesa-like feature is over 800 meters away and just a 100 meters or so beyond the point where Opportunity is headed. You can also see the significant "hole" of the crater to the left of the rim. Notice that the regional dust storm is seriously impacting visiblity, as it is power.


Archived Reports

• 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 just turned 5 Mars years old (a few months short of 10 Earth years)
• Opportunity just exceeded 37 kilometers of odometry
• On Sol 3325 Opportunity has driven up onto the next “island” of rock,  “Sutherland Point” and “Nobbys Head.”
• On this sol Opportunity is only about 700 m from the goal, the mountains to the south.

Overview Map Showing Status of Drive South. Here is the latest map showing the entire route driven by Opportunity on the rim of Endeavour crater since arriving in 2011.

• Opportunity has driven up onto the bench on the east side of Sutherland Point.

• The next drive will be slightly west of south and into that narrow zone to the immediate south of Sutherland Point

• 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. 


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