The route to Cape York

Very interesting day today – NASA released a new “Mars Rover update“, and it featured a map. Nothing unusual there, but this map actually traces out a track between where Oppy is now and across Meridiani to the rim of Endeavour Crater…

So, finally it looks like we have an official route to Cape York – and you can see from that map that it seems that Oppy will be making landfall at the south end of the feature, not in the northern half as we had all thought.

So, what I’ve been doing today is taking that map, and Google Mars and the HiRISE image which shows the ground between Santa Maria and Cape York, to take a closer look at the map and identify “waypoints” anong the route to Cape York. It seems, from looking at the map and reading the rover update, that Oppy is now going to essentially “crater hop” her way to Endeavour’s rim. Here’s what I came up with… please bear in mind that the crater names are all purely made up by myself just because, well, I had to call them something…! ;-)

All I’ve done there is take the Update map and put its route track into Google Mars, finding possible stopover features along its length. Some or all of them might be totally wrong, and it’s very much a bestguesstimate, but that doesn’t matter, like everything here it’s just for fun really.

What I did next, having identified “candidate craters”, was take a close look at each of them by zooming in on that HiRISE image using the IAS Viewer. Here, then, is a (very!!!) rough guide to the syopovers Oppy might enjoy during the rest of her epic trek to Cape York. You’ll have to enlarge it, obviously, and when you do you’ll see little virtual Oppy’s next to each crater, just to help give a sense of scale…

Ok, let’s say, just for now, that my crystal ball was working properly and my version of the Road to Cape York is somewhere close to the real one. Let’s, then, take a closer look at each of those craters in turn.

The next crater Oppy will stop at, withing a few sols actually, is the one I’ve christened “Double Crater” (tho it will have its own name soon, I’m sure…)

Next, after another 1.3km, she’ll drive up to a region with several small craters. One of them has been christened “Young Blocky” by the MER team, and chosen as a possible waypoint, but it’s not clear from the NASA map just which one it is, so I’m going to stick my neck out and suggest that it will be this one…

Next? A 640m+ drive to a small cluster of craters…

Then, a turn to the south, and a 1.7km drive to this crater…

…and then, after a drive of some 565m, one more small crater to explore…

…before Oppy really swings south andm after 270m or so’s driving, makes “landfall” on the south-east ‘shore’ of Cape York…

I’m sure that crater at the far south end of CY has the MER scientists interested… every crater, be it on the Moon, on Mars, or here in the Earth, allows planetary scientists a chance to travel back in time and glimpse that body’s history. Let’s see how big this Cape York crater is compated to Santa Maria crater… (CY is superimposed onthe right, with a virtual Oppy shown heading towards it, just to give you a sense of scale…

So, there you have it, a clearer idea of the road ahead. Obviously there’s a lot of refining to do, and no doubt if Oppy spoyyed something off to one side she’d take a detour to go take a look, but I don’t think Oppy will stray too far from this route. It’ll be fun finding out!

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One Response to The route to Cape York

  1. Buck says:

    Nicely done. I like the names!

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