As the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) team waited out solar conjunction, Opportunity spent most of April atop the western rim of Endeavour Crater, conducting a chemical analysis of an ancient waterborne vein on Matijevic Hill. It was by the book until the last week of the month when the robot field geologist suffered an electronic "hiccup" known as a warm re-boot, and went into auto mode, a kind of safe mode when something doesn't go right.
Doug Ellison shared this lovely panorama via Twitter over the weekend. It's from the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, taken back in 2004. The drunken path in the foreground is a visual record of just how exciting it was for Spirit to have finally made it to the Columbia Hills, and to rocks that were not fragments of basalt.
As the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission trekked further into its tenth year of exploring the Red Planet, Opportunity spent the month of March finishing up its science investigations on Matijevic Hill.
Flash memory or computer problems oddly occurred on both Curiosity and Opportunity around Feb 27. One possibility is that a large solar flare resulted in radiation at Mars sufficient to temporarily corrupt the memory on both rovers.
A mind-boggling quantity of information is being presented at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. In my first report from the meeting, I try to make sense of the Curiosity and Opportunity sessions.
As February turned to March, Opportunity was conducting some of its final science investigations on Matijevic Hill, the MER team was making preparations for the robot field geologist's trek south for the next winter, and the Mars Exploration Rovers mission was checking off another month of exploration.
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.