The rover took this image of Perseverance Valley on January 4, 2018 - the rover's 4,958th day in action.
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity recorded the dawn of the rover's 4,999th Martian day, or sol, with its Panoramic Camera (Pancam) on February 15, 2018, yielding this processed, approximately true-color scene. On the other side, although Opportunity rover had its chances of being stuck such as it got stuck in a single spot for over 19 weeks and then, another instance was recorded when the rover got stuck in a sand dune.
(NASA) - NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity keeps providing surprises about the Red Planet, most recently with observations of possible "rock stripes".
The photos sent by the Opportunity rover reveal dirt and gravel have been arranged into apparent strips, might be by wind, downhill tumbling, repeated cycles of freezing and thawing over the eons, or a combination of all these factors, the rover team members said.
"Perseverance Valley is a special place, like having a new mission again after all these years", said Ray Arvidson of Washington University and the Deputy Investigator for the Opportunity mission. "I don't know what these stripes are, and I don't think anyone else knows for sure what they are, so we're entertaining multiple hypotheses and gathering more data to figure it out". This rover was created to last for just 90 days on the surface of Mars, but on the morning of February 16, Opportunity completed its 5,000th sol or "day" on Mars (it beats its own record every day!).
On some inclinations in the Perseverance Valley, there have been found some gravel and sand particles taking the forms of narrow rows that alternate with wider rows. They are also considering a range of possible explanations for the stripes, and remain uncertain about whether this texture results from processes of relatively modern Mars or a much older Mars. Spirit found what appeared to be an ancient hydrothermal system where hot water flowed and bubbled through rock. Still, Rover is now 45 kilometers (28 miles) away from its landing site, having stayed active throughout the mission.
The U.S. space agency says the Mars 2020 rover will use a drill for the first time that can collect core samples, with the hopes a future mission could return the samples to Earth. The plucky rover's endurance was so impressive that NASA named the region it was exploring "Perserverance Valley". That relay was also suspended in the standby mode, but MRO was still communicating on its own with NASA.
Back in July 2014, the Opportunity rover achieved the longest off-world distance traveled of 40 kilometers, beating out the Lunokhod 2, which traversed 39 kilometers on the moon as part of a 1970s Soviet mission.