OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Rock Grinding Action - sols 3077-3084, Sept. 19, 2012-Sept. 26, 2012:
Opportunity is conducting an in-situ (contact) science campaign at a putative location of clay minerals at the inboard edge of Cape York on the rim of Endeavour Crater.
The rover is positioned next to a large light-toned block of exposed outcrop. Earlier Panoramic (Pancam) imagery indicates mineral hydration in this block. Opportunity began back on Sol 3076 (Sept. 18, 2012), using the Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT) to brush the surface at a target location called "Azilda1." On Sol 3078 (Sept. 20, 2012), the rover continued brushing the surface, now at an adjacent target called "Azlida2." The brushing was followed by a Microscopic Imager (MI) mosaic and an Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) placement on the same. On Sol 3080 (Sept. 22, 2012), Opportunity continued this brushing campaign with another surface target, slightly offset from the previous, called (you guessed it) "Azilda3."
Again, the brushing was followed by a MI mosaic and an APXS integration. With an extended target region brushed and surveyed, on Sol 3083 (Sept. 25, 2012), Opportunity performed a RAT grind on the location Azilad2. Initial telemetry indicates the grind performed to a depth of about 0.03 inches (0.8 mm). The plan ahead is to either, grind deeper or retract the RAT and survey the grind hole. As of Sol 3084 (Sept. 26 2012), the solar array energy production was 553 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.658 and a solar array dust factor of 0.657.
Total odometry is 21.78 miles (35,047.47 meters).