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Larry Crumpler

Field Report from Mars: Sol 3848 — November 20, 2014

Posted by Larry Crumpler

25-11-2014 11:01 CST

Topics: Opportunity, mission status, Mars Exploration Rovers, Mars

Opportunity finished up its work on Wdowiak Ridge and has now continued southward along the rim of Endeavour crater. The ultimate goal is a large valley cutting through the crater rim that we have informally named “Marathon Valley”.

Opportunity's traverse as of sol 3848

NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS / NMMNH / Larry Crumpler

Opportunity's traverse as of sol 3848

Opportunity is making progress along the western rim. Endeavour crater is about 22 km across, or about the size of the Valles Caldera west of Santa Fe here in New Mexico. The yellow line shows the full traverse from landing site to the current location on the rim of Endeavour crater, about 25 miles of traverse.

Opportunity's progress since the last field report

NASA / JPL-Caltech / UA / NMMNH / Larry Crumpler

Opportunity's progress since the last field report

This image shows how much we have progressed since the last report. The red line shows how far we need to go to get to Marathon Valley. We spent a lot of time at a small crater (“Ulysses crater”) there on the western end of Wdowiak Ridge, where we looked at some of the ejecta blocks. Many had some strange slab-like layers on the exteriors that begged for examination. And there were so many rocks in the ejecta field around the crater that Opportunity had trouble maneuvering quickly.

Opportunity's view of Comet Siding Spring

NASA / JPL-Caletch / Cornell / ASU / TAMU

Opportunity's view of Comet Siding Spring

Also, while working on the ejecta at Ulysses crater on Wdowiak Ridge, Opportunity made successful Oct 19 3AM observations of the comet Siding Spring, which zipped past Mars at 140,000 km distance. Opportunity nailed the comet precisely.

Navcam view north, sol 3848

NASA / JPL-Caltech

Navcam view north, sol 3848
Navcam view east-southeast, sol 3848

NASA / JPL-Caltech

Navcam view east-southeast, sol 3848

Since leaving Wdowiak Ridge, Opportunity has ascended along the ridge towards a series of fractures just west of the crater rim ridge crest. Otherwise there has been a lot of soil/regolith obscuring the ground. These are current views from the Navcam looking north and east-southeast.

Overhead view, sol 3484

NASA / JPL-Caltech / NMMNH / Larry Crumpler

Overhead view, sol 3484

But here there is an unusual linear outcrop trending almost at right angles to the crater rim. It is a potential deep-seated fracture along which aqueous fluid moved a long time ago, so we thought that we should give it a good checkout. We may be here over the Thanksgiving holiday studying this outcrop, especially if it turns out to be interesting. Aside from the unusual linear outcrop, there is a commanding view from this elevated position on the rim. The panoramic views will get better if the dust levels ever fall from the recent dust storms that moved through here.

The road ahead for Opportunity

NASA / JPL-Caltech / UA / NMMNH / Larry Crumpler

The road ahead for Opportunity

Once we finish up here we expect a rapid traverse to the summit where Opportunity will have an exceptional view of the crater and the surrounding plains. In fact, this will likely be the highest point that Opportunity will ever attain. Current plans are to arrive at the summit no later than early January, but maybe the progress will be quicker. From there it will be downhill to Marathon Valley by March 2015—at least, that is the plan.

 
See other posts from November 2014

 

Or read more blog entries about: Opportunity, mission status, Mars Exploration Rovers, Mars

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