Opportunity report, Sol 4864, by A.J.S. Rayl, The Planetary Society

20171002_3-Flag-911-WTCmetal-guards-RAT-Sol2713_RAT_flag_context_rot_br2October 2, 2017: Opportunity Braves Onset of Winter to Picture Perseverance. The Martian winter began to grip Endeavour Crater in September, slowing the pace of the Mars Exploration Rovers mission. But Opportunity braved the brutal cold in Perseverance Valley and followed her commands to visually document everything in sight with images, and even check out a couple of pebbles up close.

The veteran robot field geologist is on a small rise along the southern ‘wall’ or side of the valley, which cuts into the western rim of Endeavour at Cape Byron. Opportunity drove onto the slope, at the end of August. The second of seven planned science stops on a route that extends from the top to the bottom of the valley and the interior of Endeavour Crater, the site is about a third of the way down the valley. Known simply as station 2, it’s where the rover would spend the month of September.

“Winter is setting in and we’re getting cold,” said MER Chief of Engineering Bill Nelson, of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the NASA center that has produced all of the American Mars rovers. (…)

Opportunity is producing enough energy to survive and to work, but she’s had to use a lot of that energy just to keep warm. The robot’s two rechargeable lithium ion [Li-ion] batteries, which provide energy for the rover when the Sun isn’t shining, are in effect her heartbeat. That heartbeat is being strained and the depths of the season are still ahead. (…)

“The morphology of the valley is quite interesting … there’s a little more diversity of rocks here than what I think we expected,” Golombek elaborated. “You never know what you’re going to get until you get there, but it looks like there are different things here. If there are other rock types, then maybe they can tell us something about the structure, the rim of the crater, and the erosion that’s occurred to preserve it.” [More at link]

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