June 2, 2018: Opportunity Makes Tracks on Magical Mystery Tour of Different Rocks: Opportunity continued exploring the south trough of Perseverance in May, still looking for evidence that explains just how this one-of-a-kind valley meandering through Endeavour Crater’s rim formed, and, along the way, helped the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission chalk up yet another first, linking with three relay orbiters in one Martian day or sol to send a pipeline of data home.
The veteran robot field geologist – the longest-lived robot on Mars, 14.4 years and counting – has been taking a kind of magical mystery tour of the rocks in the south trough for more than two months. “The rocks vary and what’s interesting is these outcrops change in texture and in color as we go from north to south,” said MER Deputy Principal Investigator Ray Arvidson, of Washington University St. Louis (WUSTL).
“We’re trying to look at all the different kinds of rocks in this complicated zone that might be fault-controlled, investigating what’s causing patterns we see in terms of the material properties, and working to understand the nature of each one,” he added.
Opportunity began the merry month on Mars studying a pitted rock, formerly known as vesicular, then roved on, to an outcrop of bright, tan-colored, tabular rocks. “We were intrigued by these pitted rocks and at first called them vesicular,” said Arvidson. “Vesicular rocks are characterized by these little cavities known as vesicles that are formed when you have a magma or lava that degasses and leaves holes. But now the science team is beginning to think that maybe the pits are caused by some kind of chemical corrosion,” he explained. [More at link]