L. Crumpler, MER Science Team & New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science
The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is still exploring Mars.
Opportunity has been examining a bright outcrop here before getting on with the business of exploring Marathon Valley. At this location we have also acquired a couple of panoramas that should be spectacular.
Above is a tactical display showing Opportunity's location with respect to the features that it will be exploring in the next few weeks, including the strange Spirit of Saint Louis feature in the background. The IDD ("instrument deployment device", in other word, "the rover arm") is shown on the outcrop "Athens" in this scene. On the upper left is the highest point on the Endeavour crater rim where Opportunity acquired the "Tribulation Pan" many weeks ago. After that Opportunity began dropping down to this notch in the crater rim called "Marathon Valley." Once done here at the "Athens" outcrop Opportunity will head towrds that knob of rock in the middle of the Spirit of Saint Louis feature, and eventually drive beyond to the entrance of Marathin Valley where things should really get interesting.
Above is a Pancam frame looking towards the odd mound of dark rocks located behind Opportunity in the previous image. What is it? WE don't know. It looks like a remnant of a formerly broader area oif resistant dark, probably basaltic, rocks. Is it younger or older than the local crater ejecta? Don't know. That is why we explore. It is also typical of the questions that a field geologist deals with. Doing field geology is like exploring another world: No one has ever "seen" wehat the geologist sees. The work here on Mars is no different.
That is the far rim of Endeavour crater, 22 km away, on the horizon in the distance. In today's plan we will drive a few meters to the north to look at anoither bit of interesting outcrop. Then we will finally start looking at the odd Spirit of Saint Louis feature.