Opportunity: Perseverance Valley at the 2018 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

IDL TIFF fileFor the 15th year in a row, Opportunity and the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) mission drove into the spotlight during an afternoon session at the 49th Lunar & Planetary Science Conference (LPSC), held in The Woodlands, Texas, in March. Known by its acronym, LPSC is where this niche of the space community regularly communes and where this MER-class robot field geologist is treated with reverence worthy of a veteran. (…)

Opportunity is now halfway down Perseverance and Mars is still talking. Beyond the sometimes-slippery slopes of the gravelly terrain on which Opportunity is roving, the team’s challenge lies in the fact that Perseverance is the only geological feature of its kind at Endeavour. There is nothing anywhere else in the rim that looks anything like it.

The valley’s “singularity” is “an outstanding characteristic,” [MER science team member Rob] Sullivan said. That’s the good news, right? The bad news? “This poses important challenges to all candidate origins, including water,” he said.

So uniqueness is making the task of uncovering the story of Perseverance one of if not the greatest Martian mysteries that Opportunity and the MER science team have undertaken. Nevertheless, in tight, on-point presentations, the six lecturers of MER research at LPSC this year reviewed some solid geologic studies,laid out a number of key findings that reveal an evolution in the team’s thinking– and proved once again that there’s nothing quite like a good Martian mystery… [Much more at link]


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