Striking out for “Spirit Point”

Couple of days since my last update, so time to catch up…

The big news is that we now have a name for the actual place on the rim of Endeavour, at Cape York, where Oppy will make “landfall” after her epic journey across the Meridiani desert. In a very touching, and appropriate, gesture, the MER team has (provisionally) christened the southern end of Cape York “Spirit Point”, in honour of Oppy’s sister rover, “Spirit”, which ended its mission last week. So, when Oppy finally rolls up to the southern end of Cape York, she will arrive at a place which will bring back many memories for the rover team and all their countless thousands of fans and followers all around the world. Which is fantastic, I think. :-)

So, looking ahead, here’s where Oppy is heading for…

And the OTHER big piece of news is that Oppy is now less than 3km away from Cape York! Her last few drives have been very respectable, and she is now making good, steady progress towards the rim of Endeavour. She has just passed a crater christened “Gemini 5″, and is now heading towards a very interesting looking cluster of craters, some 420m ahead…

But the real excitement over the past few days was caused by something else – the suddenly jaw-dropping view of the western hills, or the “Tribulation Hills” as I’m going to start calling them (ny own choice, not official or anything, I just get tired typing “the hills on the western side of Endeavour” again and again!). We hadn’t seen Cape Tribulation and its neighbours for a good few days, as Oppy was staring intently on the road directly ahead, and then suddenly yesterday THIS view appeared…!

 

As my friend Dan posted over on UMSF, it looked like someone “had dropped a mountain” in front of Oppy!!

What IS that? Well, that, is “Cape Tribulation”, the closest hills to Oppy, on this western side of Endeavour Crater. Here, let me show you…

Ok, so the little red dot is where Oppy is now. The dark red arrow points towards Cape York, and the lighter red arrow is effectively Oppy’s “line of sight” towards the closest range of hills, further to the south, anti-clockwise around the rim of Endeavour. So the “mountain” seen on that image further up this page is what’s circled on the previous image, ok?

That latest image really caught many people by surprise. So much detail on the hills suddenly, and they looked so huge! Cropping and enlarging and doing some general messing about with brought out some more details on the Hills…

…and a little more messing about resulted in this view…

Now, you have to be VERY careful when making and interpreting images like that, because every step of the ‘enhancement’ process can create things that aren’t there, little glitches and artefacts that can fool you into thinking you’ve just uncovered some previously hidden feature on your target when what you’ve really done is create it yourself! But I think it’s fair to say that we can now see, quite clearly, some features ON the Tribulation Hills, and the view is only going to get better as Oppy gets closer to them.

Oppy’s landfall site named… details on the Tribulation Hills… less than 3km to go…

Suddenly Endeavour, and the amazing science Oppy will do on its rim, seems very, very close… :-)

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One Response to Striking out for “Spirit Point”

  1. marsnik says:

    Exciting times! And a great explanation of Oppy’s location for the rest of us! :-)

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