Opportunity report, Sol 4896, by A.J.S. Rayl, The Planetary Society

20171102_1WheelieSA_f840November 2, 2017: Opportunity Pops Wheelies Over Etched Rocks in Perseverance. As the brutally cold weather got even colder at Endeavour Crater in October, the depths of winter gripped the Mars Exploration Rovers mission, Opportunity decelerated, and ‘life’ on Mars slowed. But the robot field geologist continued to work on through the doldrums of the season, quietly giving her all to investigating a new site in her historic science campaign inside Perseverance Valley, the most anticipated geological feature in this chapter of the mission’s expedition.

Opportunity is inside this valley that cuts into the west rim of Endeavour Crater to figure out what it was more than 3 billion years ago that caused it to form. The first assumption and still the seemingly favored hypothesis is that Perseverance was carved by water. But the scientists are also floating theories that wind or ice or a muddy debris flow or some combination of those elements could have also done the job.

While the Halloween spirit began to put pumpkins everywhere on Earth, the rover struggled dutifully to climb back up a slippery slope of rubbly terrain in the southern wall of the valley to reach some rocks with mighty little ‘tails’ to tell. In the process, Opportunity surprised her colleagues with a little trick, an October surprise all her own. She popped a wheelie. Boom! [More at link]

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