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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


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.

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.

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