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.


Latest Report

Sol 4119 - August 26, 2015

Opportunity is moving down into a large valley that cuts through the rim of Endeavor crater. The valley is somewhat like a chute directed  into the crater floor, which is  a long ways below. So it is somewhat scary, but also pretty interesting scenery.The valley floor is of interest because we have evidence from oribital remote sensing that there is some alteration of the rocks mass here. We would like to understand the geologic setting of the alteration, and how it occurs in the outcrops. Of course the whole point of the investigation is the fact that alteration like the type we are seeing requires a lot of water and we want to know when it was there and how it moved through the rocks. Then we can get a better idea of how water may have played a role in the environment on early Mars. The crater rim is very eroded, so there was water all right.


Here is the current total traverse from the landing site. This is a drive of over 25 miles (40 km). We are well into our 11th year operating on Mars. The line ends at a notch on the rim of Endeavour crater that we have named Marathon Valley (after the marathon distance traveled getting here).



This is an overhead zoom into the area where Opportunity is right now. We are working our way into the valley and hope to do a circuit near the base of the north valley wall before about November. After that we will need to scurry over to the south side for better winter power with the solar arrays. The green line outlines the area where we see alteration based on orbital remote sensing. So it outlines the prospecting area. Which is what we are doing, basically: prospecting.


At this location the main activity is an examination of the outcrop on  the valley floor, but a few panoramas have been acquired while sitting here. Here is a view of the rover setting with respect to surroundings as seen in some of those panoramas. The large mass of dark rocks upslope is a target of interest. It corresponds to the large shadowed slope on the left side of the second image above. The view is upslope to the northwest and the crater rim. So, yes we have dropped into the crater-inside side of the rim.


The view downslope gives you an idea of the rather steep slope. Good thing we have good brakes! Off in the distance is the far rim of Endeaavour crater a good  13 miles (22 km) away.



This is a quick look at some of the panorama from the current setting. I have taken the color Pancam data acquired from this location and placed it on top of the Navcam image mosaic. The various white lines map out a few things that we are trying to track. The two circles to the north at 22 and 27 m distance may be the next drive targets. Haven't decided yet because we are waiting for more Pancam results before we pick a target. The circles marked "sta 4, 5, 6" are places that we plan to examine as we do a drive along the north wall of the valley. This is a geologically complicated area and we hope to get a better sense of the structure with a good walk-about. Nice view of the ditance from here anyway.

Archived sols


sol 4039 - June 4,2015
? Opportunity is finishing up at the "Athens" outcrop
Sol 3971 - March 26, 2015
? Opportunity completes a marathon ? Arrives at a wild appearing landscape
Sol 3902 - January 15
- Opportunity has departed the summit - destination now visible to the south
Sol 3894-January 7, 2015
- Opportunity has arrived at the highest elevation that it will ever be - Opportunity is now perched on the west rim of Endeavour crater
sol 3893 - January 6, 2015
? a few meters from the highest point Opportunity will ever be ? the highest outcrops are just ahead ? will be reached in next drive or two

Older sols..

Sol 3848 - November 20, 2014
? Opportunity finished up work at Wdowiak Ridge ? Opportunity continues climbing the rim of Endeavour crater ? The observations of comet Siding Spring were successful ? Unusual outcrops are now being studied here on the rim crest
Sol 3808 - October 10, 2014
? still climbing the rim of Endeavour crater ? working near Ulysses crater a couple of more weeks ? Opportunity about to become a comet flyby mission
Sol 3790-September 22, 2014
? Rover memory has been re-formatted ? Ascending along Wdowiak Ridge ? Opportunity has arrived an impact crater on the ridge ? The view of the surroundings is beginning to get pretty nice
Sol 3753 - August 15, 2014
? Opportunity is now commencing ascent of a steep crater rim segment ? Opportunity has arrived at the base of an unusual outcrop ? Approximate 200 sol journey along ?mountain ridge crest? ahead
Sol 3650 - May 2, 2014
? Opportunity continues driving south along the rim of Endeavour crater ? Now approaching next area of outcrop ? Solar panels remain very clean, cleanest since about sol 1600 ? Approaching distance driving record
Sol3623 - 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
Sol 3572 -February 10, 2014
? 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
Sol 3556 - January 24, 2014
? 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
Sol 3519 - December 18, 2013
- 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
Sol 3494 -  November 21, 2013
- 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
Sol 3467 - October 24, 2013
- 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
Sol 3431 - September 18, 2013
- 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
Sol 3397 - August 13, 2013
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.
Sol 3385 - August 2, 2013
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?
Sol 3378 - July 25, 2013
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.
Sol 3363 - July 10, 2013
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
 Sol 3355 - July 2, 2013
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.
Sol 3325- June 3, 2013
Opportunity has driven up onto the bench on the east side of Sutherland Point.
Sol 3317- May 24, 2013
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".
Sol 3310 - May 17, 2013
Opportunity finishes studies at Matijevic Hill and begins the drive south and breaks off-Earth driving distance record set by Apollo 17.
Sol 3262- March 29, 2013
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.
Sol 3237-3239 - March 4, 2013
Rover Memory Hiccup. Flash memory or computer problems oddly occurred on both Curiosity and Opportunity around Feb 27.
Sol 3220-3236 - March 1, 2013
Clean-up activities in preparation for driving south.
Sol 3219 - February 13, 2013
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.
Sol 3215 - February 6, 2013
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.
Sol 3188 - January 11, 2013
Completed the bump and may have the target in the work volume....
Sol 3185 - January 9, 2013
Another New Mexico name gets used for a Mars outcrop target.
Sol 3182 - January 6, 2013
We finished up with examination of the big outcrop ("Copper Cliff") and moved to the next target over the weekend.
Sol 3153 - December 7, 2012
Traveling towards to big outcrop "Copper Cliff".
Sol 3151-3152 - December 5-6, 2012
The decision was made to drive to the outcrop to the immediate west "Copper Cliff".
Sol 3150 - December 3, 2012
Finished Outcrop Walk, Starting Detailed Examination of Outcrops, Looking for Clays
Sol 3111- October 23, 2012
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.