When we get there…

Oppy is, as everyone knows by now, at least another year’s drive away from Endeavour Crater. If we’re honest, the chances of her actually reaching the crater are slim: every day has the potential to bring her to a grinding halt through some technical problem, computer glitch or rover-nobbling natural event. But as one of the rover drivers is fond of saying, “Never bet against one of the rovers, it’s a sure way to lose money!” So, if Oppy does reach those Faraway Hills, what happens next? What will we see?

As far as I can tell, this is the part of the crater rim we’re heading for…

It hasn’t got a name yet, but let’s call it “Destination Hill” for now. Taking a closer look at the hill we see this… (I stitched together around 23 different crops of a HiRISE image to make this, so please click on it to see a larger version…)

(and there’s a mega-size version here…)

This hill is a fascinating place! It’s almost like a huge martian castle, or fortress, with its own moat, walls, turrets and towers. At the southern end there’s a (relatively) fresh impact crater, which has scattered some big blocks of ejecta across the top of the hill…

… while at the northern end there’s this intriguing “cleft” cut into the hill…

Between those two features is a wealth of geological goodness. This dark, circular area on the top of the hill – which I can’t resist nicknaming “the Helipad” – might be an old crater filled with dark dust..?

… and the highest point of the hills looks like this…

Now, it’s a bit hard to appreciate the size of those places, I know. So what I’ve done is create some simulated views of Oppy exploring this hill, using this image of the rover at Concepcion Crater taken by MRO’s HiRISE camera earlier this year…

You can just make out Oppy as a pixelated… thing… near the top there…? Got it? Oh, hang on, I’ll show you…

There you go. So, I took that image, lifted Oppy off it, and – trying my best to keep the same scale – dropped her (carefully!) onto the HiRISE images of ‘Destination Hill”, to create fake HiRISE views of Oppy exploring this fascinating part of Endeavour’s rim. I have to stress I’m not claiming these images are 10000% accurate, or to perfect scale, ok? They’re really just me messing about in Photoshop and trying to get a sense of scale of the place. I’m not claiming these are accurate enough to be used in any other way than as “a bit of fun”! :-) But I do think they give a hint of how interesting a destination this hill is.

Okay, here we go, and remember to click on the images to bring up larger versions. First, Oppy approaching the hill…

And exploring the lower northern parts of the hill, taking a good look at the “Cleft”…

… and scooting around inside the “Helipad”…

… and taking a look at those blocks of rock excavated by the formation of that crater at the southern end…

And finally… roll on the drums please… the ultimate image… Oppy at the summit of the hill, having climbed up it to get possibly the most incredible image of the whole rover mission – a panorama of the Hills of Endeavour…

As you can see, there’s lots to see and do once Oppy reaches the hills!  

Now, as I already said, I’m not claiming these images are anything other than a bit of fun, I did them for my own amusement and to use in my Outreach work. But looking at them, doesn’t it make Oppy’s epic trek across Meridiani even more incredible..?

I think we’ll get there. I really do. :-)

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4 Responses to When we get there…

  1. Mekhong Kurt says:

    Okay, two minor whines first: arrows or circles would have helped viewers pick out Opportunity much more easily, and though the information that will take at least a year for the intrepid rover to get to it, knowing the *distance* it will cover just to reach the destination would put this in some context that I, for one, would have appreciated (though I know I can dig that up elsewhere).

    So — what’s you’re real personal take on the likelihood that Opportunity will (1.) survive long enough to reach there and (2.) that it will actually prove able to make the trip? I ask because early on you seem somewhat pessimistic — but end on a very upbeat, optimistic note. (If you don’t want to be pinned down on a prediction/guess, especially this early on, never mind; I’d hesitate myself.)

    In any case, if Opportunity were to utterly fail right this minute — may the God of War forbid! — what an enormously successful mission this has been! That these two rovers with use-by dates lasting just 90 days have done so much is almost beyond belief. Okay, so Spirit chucked it in; still not a bad ROI, looking at it from the bean counters’ point of view. And Opportunity’s still going. If that’s not one heckuva lot of bang for the buck, I don’t know what is.

    As Mr. Spock might say, “May Opportunity live long and prosper.”

    • phoenixpics says:

      You don’t need circles or arrows! :-) Just follow the dark trails and Oppy’s on the end! :-)) Ees seemples!

    • phoenixpics says:

      The thing is, there are so many variables here it’s impossible to know now 1) how many km Oppy will have to travel to get to the Hills (detours around dunes will add km, shortcuts across areas of smooth pavement will cut km, but we don’t know if/when we’ll come across those), and 2) how long it will take, because of “1”, so predictions are utterly, utterly futile and useless. I;m just enjoying the drive, one sol at a time :-)

  2. Mekhong Kurt says:

    P.S.: “Oppy” is sure a sappy nickname. I keep having visions of “Andy Griffith Goes to Mars,” with Opie driving Opportunity and Barney directing traffic! ;-) (Okay, so I cheated — that’s a third wine!)

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