Mars Rover Finds Vein of Gypsum Deposited by Water

Vein of Gypsum at Homestake in Endeavour Crater – bright line, middle, right
Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

The Mars rover Opportunity has returned images and evidence for the mineral Gypsum, composed of Calcium Sulfate, which is usually deposited in water. The discovery occurred at the site nicknamed “Homestake”, which is near the edge of the “Cape York” segment of the western rim of Endeavour Crater.

Vein of Gypsum in Natural Color
Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Cornell / ASU


Opportunity Arrives at Endeavour

Spirit Point
Endeavour Crater taken by the Mars Rover Opportunity at Spirit Point
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ASU

The Mars Rover Opportunity has arrived at Spirit Point on the edge of the Endeavour Crater. It has been a three year journey from Victoria crater, covering 12 kilometers.

Endeavour is 22 kilometers in diameter, and exposes much deeper and ancient Martian geology than anything explored so far.

Below is a closeup from the panorama showing the small crater “Odyssey” on the rim of Endeavour.

Odyssey crater on the rim of Endeavour crater
Odyssey crater on the rim of Endeavour crater at Spirit Point
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ASU

Opportunity’s Journey

Opportunity – From Eagle Crater to Endeavour Crater
Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS

On 27 May 2011, after 2,609 Martian days since landing in Eagle Crater, the Mars Rover Opportunity reached the end point at the lower right of the yellow line on the map above. It is 2.2 miles (3.5 kilometers) from the rim of Endeavour Crater.

Opportunity landed inside Eagle Crater in January of 2004, and spent two months exploring its “nest”. In late March it climbed out of Eagle Crater and began its trek toward Endurance Crater. By the end of April, the rover had completed its 90 day mission. In May, Opportunity began its descent into Endurance Crater.

Six months later, Opportunity left Endurance and began a long traverse to Victoria Crater (see the map). It reached the 500 meter crater in late September of 2006. After two years of exploration, Opportunity climbed out of the crater in September of 2008, and began a 12 kilometer journey to Endeavour.

Endeavour is 22 kilometers in diameter, and exposes much deeper and ancient Martian geology than anything explored so far.

In honor of Opportunity’s rover twin, the team has chosen “Spirit Point” on Cape York as the informal name for the site on Endeavour’s rim targeted for Opportunity’s arrival at Endeavour.

Opportunity on Mars

Opportunity Panoramic View on Sol 2,363
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

From NASA’s release announcement:

This mosaic of images from the navigation camera on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows surroundings of the rover’s location following an 81-meter (266-foot) drive during the 2,363rd Martian day, or sol, of Opportunity’s mission on Mars (Sept. 16, 2010).

The camera took the component images for this 360-degree panorama during sols 2363 to 2365. The terrain includes light-toned bedrock and darker ripples of wind-blown sand. For scale, the distance between the parallel wheel tracks in the right half of the image is about 1 meter (about 40 inches).

This view is presented as a cylindrical projection.

Opportunity is now half way on its trek from Victoria Crater (0.8 kilometers wide) to Endeavour Crater (22 kilometers in diameter), about 19 kilometers away. Opportunity resumed its journey toward Endeavour Crater after imaging an iron meteorite on the Martian surface.