Out onto the Great Plain…

Oppy is now making good progress away from Santa Maria and towards Endeavour. The hills are looming a little higher on the horizon now, now that Oppy has started to climb up out of the local landscape dip she was in for a couple of sols, and we’re very close to our first small “lilly pad” of bedrock. Let’s see where Oppy’s most recent drive took her to.

And here’s Oppy’s view from her latest stopping point (click to enlarge)…

I think Oppy is about to start encountering some very interesting terrain. Up ahead, past this small patch of bedrock, are some unusual and fascinating features which look like little pedastals or domes of rock, like little round islands in the dusty sea of Meridiani. Here’s a 3D view of Oppy’s driving area for the next couple of weeks. Unless she deviates from it to go and look at something she’s spotted off to one side, Oppy should drive roughly diaginally from the top left to the bottom right of this picture. You will definitely need to enlarge it by clicking on it…

You see those ‘domes’ in the centre of the image? That’s what I’m talking about. I’m really looking forward to seeing these up close; they’ve fascinated me ever since I saw them clustered around Cape York. It’ll be good to get an early look at them!

To give you a better sense of the scale of these features, here’s a modified version of that previous image, with a few fake Oppy’s dropped on to it. They’re the correct scale size.

I haven’t been able to find colour views of the features Oppy will be approaching soon, but here’s a colourised view of some in a region just off to the south of where Oppy is currently driving…

Looking at that image it seems to me that maybe these features aren’t so much domes as¬†surviving ‘patches’¬†of a layer of harder rocky material that once covered this part of Meridiani, but has eroded away over time. This image, I think, suggests that too…

…but what do I know? I’m just an enthusiastic backseat rover driver! :-)

Whatever they are, Oppy is approaching some of them soon. This next image shows the terrain and features she will encounter as she drives onwards, travelling from bottom to top (which is actually west to east…ish…sort of). Again, to help provide a sense of scale, virtual Oppys have been added. You can find them by following their tracks.

I’m really looking forward to the next few drives, I think we’ll see some very interesting things.

But to finish this post, let’s take another look at “Bagua”, that big, Big rock Oppy passed soon after rolling away from Santa Maria. New images have been downloaded of this great crumbly beast, allowing me to make “high resolution” (i.e. stacked and sharpened), 3D and pseud-colour views of it. So here you are, enjoy…

She was a beaut, wasn’t she? WOnder of we’ll see any more like her en-route to Endeavour? I can’t spot any on the HiRISE images, but we’ll have to wait and see.

So, Oppy is making good progress. She is now approx 5.7km from Cape York.

More pictures soon,I’m sure, so keep checking back.

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3 Responses to Out onto the Great Plain…

  1. Phil ('antipode' on UMSF) says:

    Stu

    In the big enlargement (pic three) I see at least 3 ‘boulders’ [?] at the eastern end of long furrows [?] tadpole like. The most prominent is right next to the largest of your ‘pedestals’ but there are several others. They almost look like the tracks made by rocks sliding in strong winds on temporarily moistened dry lake beds in the US. Do you see what I see? What do you think?

    P

    • Phil ('antipode' on UMSF) says:

      Hahahaha! I should have gone to UMSF first! I can see your ‘virtual oppys’ now! Feel free to erase this and the previous post.

      BTW this is a great site – always enjoy your work.

      P

  2. J. Major says:

    Some excellent 3D on that meteorite (?) rock thing there Stu….very cool. :)

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