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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


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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