NASA's Opportunity long-lived Mars rover used its Navigation Camera on Sol 4014 to image this feature. Credit: Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

NASA’s Opportunity long-lived Mars rover used its Navigation Camera on Sol 4014 to image this feature.
Credit: Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

 

NASA’s veteran Mars rover – Opportunity – is taking in a perplexing geological feature on the Red Planet.

An elongated, shallow crater dubbed “Spirit of St. Louis” has a rock “spire” within the crater. The rocky feature toward the far end of the crater is about 7 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) tall, rising higher than the crater’s rim.

The Spirit of St. Louis Crater is unusually shaped and lies on the outer portion of the western rim of Endeavour Crater.

 

 

Endeavour spans about 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter, and Opportunity has been exploring its western rim for about one-third of the rover’s mission – which has lasted more than 11 years.

Opportunity has been on the prowl since early 2004.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

Volcanic neck?

Regarding the strange spire, it has been named “Lindbergh Mound” since it is in the Spirit of Saint Louis Crater, said Ray Arvidson, Mars Exploration Rover (MER) deputy principal investigator at Washington University in St. Louis.

“Several hypotheses are open right now,” Arvidson told Inside Outer Space, such as a mound of secondary debris by ejecta from some crater.

On the Opportunity trail! Opportunity's traverse map through Sol 4000 Total odometry as of Sol 4003 is 26.25 miles (42.25 kilometers). Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/University of Arizona

On the Opportunity trail!
Opportunity’s traverse map through Sol 4000
Total odometry as of Sol 4003 is 26.25 miles (42.25 kilometers).
Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/University of Arizona

The feature could be a volcanic neck or spire, Arvidson said, or perhaps an odd erosional relict representing more resistant materials within the crater.

“All are open right now and we are doing measurements on outcrops in and on the rim of the crater to help sort them out,” Arvidson concluded.

One Response to “Red Planet Oddity Investigated by Opportunity”

  • bill walker says:

    Hi Leonard. Boy, IO would like to ‘ come back ‘ at a far distant date to see how far we’ve gotten.

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