Larry CrumplerMay 03, 2017

Field Report from Mars: Sol 4718

On this sol Opportunity made the final drive in the month-long process that began way up north inside Endeavour Crater earlier this Earth-year. One of the primary objectives of the current mission extended mission has been a valley—Perseverance Valley—that cuts through the rim of Endeavour. We will drive down it to further assess its origin and to further explore the structure and stratigraphy of this large impact crater. Once down at the end of the valley, Opportunity will be directed to explore the crater fill on a drive south at the foot of the crater walls. But the next month or so will be an exciting time, for no rover has ever driven down a potential ancient water-cut valley before.

Opportunity's location as of sol 4718
Opportunity's location as of sol 4718 Current location of Opportunity along the west rim of the 22-km diameter Noachian-aged Endeavour impact crater.Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS / Larry Crumpler, NMMNH
Perspective view of the traverse over the last few weeks
Perspective view of the traverse over the last few weeks Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Cornell / ASU / Larry Crumpler, NMMNH

Opportunity descended the higher elevation part of the rim to a low region between rim “segments.” This view shows the variety of terrain surfaces that occur along this part of the rim. Also, you can see the curvature of the rim as it arches south and east. The entry point for the planned drive back into the crater is visible as the low notch just to the left (east) of the current (sol 4718) rover position.

Opportunity's view, sol 4718
Opportunity's view, sol 4718 Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech

View from Opportunity on this sol (4718) looking east toward the “spillway” across the crater rim into Perseverance Valley. Would you drive your off-road vehicle over that edge?! We will be checking it out thoroughly over the next few sols before we do so. Note the far wall of Endeavour Crater 22 kilometers away on the horizon.

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