December 1, 2017: Opportunity Returns Fundamental Finding in Perseverance, Cruises Through Winter Solstice: Opportunity continued the historic winter science campaign inside Perseverance Valley and delivered the goods that confirmed an important discovery in November, and then cruised through winter solstice, driving the Mars Explorations Rovers (MER) mission closer to its 14th anniversary of surface operations coming up in January.
“We conducted a fascinating campaign to acquire one of the most difficult and beautiful microscopic image mosaics in the history of this project,” said MER Principal Investigator Steve Squyres, of Cornell University. “We got it. And we made a fundamental finding, one that was enabled by some very, very tough driving.” (…)
Opportunity shot pictures of the site with her stereo Pancam “eyes” back in August as she drove by it on her way to the next, planned stop. The scientists were struck by what they saw: scouring on some of the northern outcrop rocks, specifically what appeared to be erosional tails, geological signs of an erosive force that seemed to be pointing up hill. “It looks pretty convincing in the Pancam images that these little tails actually are pointing uphill, though I wouldn’t say it was bulletproof,” said Squyres. (…)
“Perseverance Valley is billions of years old and it’s been sandblasted through the years, probably by a prevailing wind that’s blowing from the east, up and out of the crater,” Squyres pointed out. “So this distinctive scouring that we’re seeing, we believe, is not related to the original carving of Perseverance Valley, but was something that came along later.” [More at link]