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Rover Field Reports from Mars

Status Reports for MER Opportunity Rover at Endeavour Crater, Meridiani Planum

 

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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, July 5, 2018 - 11:15am

Sol 5135 - Opportunity Continues Weathering the Global Dust Event of 2018 at Perseverance Valley

Opportunity is hunkered down in the floor of Perseverance Valley here on the inner wall of Endeavour crater waiting out the global dust storm of 2018.

The outcrop currently being investigated, “La Joya”, is exposed sitting in the floor of Perseverance Valley and is an anomalous basaltic and vesicular petrology. Meanwhile the north and south walls of the valley appear to be rather clast-poor impact breccias which we believe may not be from Endeavouur crater, but instead represent a “pre-Endeavour:” lithology. And Perseverance Valley seems to have north and south walls that line up with very noticeable faults (“Socorro” and “La Bajada”) cutting through the crater rim.

Status of Dust Storm:

  • MRO/ HiRISE images acquired over the last week are mostly unusable except for the south pole and some high northern latitudes
  • MRO/MARCI reports that dust was still lifting in several locations, so the storm is not abating yet
  • Current assessment of the present storm by the Martian weather experts suggest that this storm is more like the 2001 storm than the 2007 storm. In that storm opacity (tau) did not drop below 2.0 (an acceptable number for Opportunity) until about 80 sols (Mars days) after the storm started.

Above is an oblique view of the current location of Opportunity on the inner wall of Endeavour crater showing the course of Perseverance valley. Also, high-lighted in cyan, are the two fractures or faults that appear to form the north and south margins of the south fork of the two-forked valley. The red and pink areas are the locations of unusual outcrops of basaltic rocks exposed in the floor of the valley. Outcrops outside the valley are largely impact breccias making up the wall of Endeavour crater.

 

Sol 5104, front Hazcam view from Opportunity just before the beginning of the dust storm. Opportunity is examining the outcrop target “La Joya” in the floor of Perseverance Valley. Notice the tilt. At this location Opportunity is sitting on an 18 to 20 degree tilt. Every move is calculated carefully because every move causes a down-hill slip.

View up valley from Opportunity’s current location showing the principal characteristics of Perseverance Valley at this location. This is a superposition of a color Pancam mosaic on a black and white Navcam mosaic.


Archived Reports


Sol 5114 - A Major Dust Storm on Mars

Opportunity was continuing to gather data from outcrops in Perseverance Valley up until the end of May and the first week of June. But then a dust storm developed to the northwest and unexpectedly expanded into Merdiani Planum where Opportunity is exploring.

During the last week of Febraury, 2018, on Sol 4999 since landing on Mars (14 tears ago), Opportunity woke up at took a picture of the sunrise over the southeast rim of Endeavour crater. Opportunity then proceeded with its science activities here on the inner wall of Endeavour crater.

Sol 4978 - January 25, 2018 Opportunity at Outcrop SIte "Robledo"

 

 

Opportunity is continuing its drive down Persevereance Valley, a channel that was cut in the inner wall of the 22 km-diameter Endeavour impact crater in ancient Mars (Noachian) time. This is the second stop of a series of stops as Opportunity drives down the valley. The goal is to collect field data that will help assess the origin of the valley. While the valley looks like a water-cut valley, we cannot be sure whether other processes like wind or drive flow have cut the valley. But that is why we are taking our time and collecting data as we drive.

With the latest drive on sol 4782, Opportunity  began the long drive down the floor of Perseverance Valley here on Endeavour crater. THis is rather historic in that it represents the first time that a rover has driven down an apparent wtaer-cut valley on Mars. Over the next few months OPportunity will explore the floor and sides of the valley for evidence of the scale and timing of the fluvial activity, if that is what is represents.

Opportunity is doing a geologic walkabout at the entrance to Perseverance Valley. There is an odd trough-like feature leading into the entrance of the valley and the natural suspicion is that it could be the water course that supplied the valley. We would like to get a look at the geologyto see if that is what formed the trough. Also, once Opportunity starts descending the valley, it will not be driving back up slope. We fully intend to exit out the bottom of the valley inside Endeavour crater.

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.

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