Opportunity rover examines new rock outcrop in the search for clays

A portion of the rock outcrop. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Stuart Atkinson

Although the Curiosity rover has been in the limelight the past few weeks, and for good reason, elsewhere on Mars the Opportunity rover continues its studies of the region around the rim of the huge Endeavour crater. Yes, she’s still there!

The rover is now in an area where clays have been identified from orbit, a prime target of the rover, as clays indicate a past watery environment which was non-acidic (ph neutral). It isn’t known exactly what these deposits might look like on the ground, but the rover is now investigating an interesting-looking outcrop of darker rock right in one of the clay deposit areas. Does it contain some of the long-sought clays? We don’t know yet, but it is still a curious-looking outcrop even if it doesn’t. It’s a mix of thin “fin-like” pieces, similar to others seen before in other locations, and other blocky chunks. Appearance-wise, it resembles dry, eroding clays on Earth.

Another portion of the rock outcrop. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Stuart Atkinson
Panorama of entire rock outcrop. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Stuart Atkinson
Anaglyph 3-D version of the rock outcrop panorama. Click for larger version.
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Stuart Atkinson

The images in this post are courtesy of Stuart Atkinson, who does excellent work of stitching together individual images sent by the rover into more complete mosaics. Click on the two panoramas for larger versions. The last image is a 3-D anaglyph, so if you have 3-D glasses or other software, you can view it in even more realistic detail.