Oppy isn’t moving much at the moment- she’s been taking a bit of a breather while her power levels were low – and she’s not sending back huge numbers of pictures either. But a few have come back, so time for a quick update…
I know it doesn’t look much, but I really like that image (as ever, click on it for a larger version), because you can just see some of Endeavour’s hills peeping up over the horizon…
That’s a colourised close-up of the surface, showing lots and lots of the ‘berries’ Oppy has been seeing since she landed, all those long, long years ago…
Now… some of you may know that I write poetry inspired by the Mars rovers, and other spacey stuff. This brief lull in Oppy’s activities has allowed me to put the keyboard aside and pick up my quill again, and here’s the result…
On The Beach
Oppy appears to stand now upon a bone-dry beach,
But nothing here mirrors an Earthly sea-shore scene.
No paperback-shading clouds; no sounds
Of sunburned children screaming, knee-high in
Surging surf; no peace-shattering yaps
From frisbee-catching dogs leaping
Through the air without a care in the world…
There are no shards of coloured shell here;
No shrivelled Mermaids’ Purses to pop;
No torn-off-at-the-shoulder seagull wings, bleached
By the merciless rays of the summer holiday Sun…
Just dust, dust, dust, long meandering mounds
Of it, great cinnamon dunes of it, snaking to
And fro, painted a dozen different shades of red
And brown: Arrakis come to life with Wormsign
On all sides and no chance of escape,
No rocky capes for brave Paul and Jessica
To leap up onto in just the nick of time…
Surely Oppy is a Fremen now..? Surely her pan-
And navcam eyes glow bright Spice blue at night?
And on the far horizon – Hills,
Beckoning us, calling out to us,
Singing siren songs of clay rich rocks
And “iconic image” views.
So far away, those distant, dusty peaks,
That Mars will sweep at least half way around
The Sun once more before our braveheart
Rover rolls into their shadow –
If she reaches them at all, for each sol she wakes
Now is another Great Escape,
Another celebration of cheating Death
On the solar system’s most robot-hating world.
Distance makes those mighty mountains modest.
From here they look shrunken, small,
The upturned, rusted hulls of ancient martian supertankers.
Or is this part of Meridiani the graveyard
Of the glorious sand ships that once skimmed thru
This desert’s dusty dunes in Bradbury’s brilliant mind?
© Stuart Atkinson May 2010
Update: my good friend and fellow UMSF member “AstroO” has combined my poem with one of his beautiful “artistic impression” images of Mars. You can see the end result – and download a poster version of it – over on his blog…