The call of the north…

Right, make yourself a cup of coffee and settle down in front of your computer; we’ve some catching up to do.

Remember how I reported the other day that Oppy was going to be stopping at the Shoemaker Ridge and exploring the rocks there? Yes, well, you can take that plan, scrunch it up and toss it in the nearest bin, because Oppy drove past Shoemaker and just kept going. She’s now well north of Odyssey Crater, well past the enigmatic “rectangular markings” we were all expecting her to stop at and study. In fact she’s now almost at that big, flat crater half-way “up” Cape York. That means she’s probably standing on, or at least close to,¬†the Cape’s largest concentration of clay phyllosilicates as you read this. How exciting is that?!

But whoah, hang on, let’s go back a couple of sols, to when Oppy was, we thought, about to stop rolling north and start edging slowly down the eastern slope of Cape York and take a closer look at those rectangular markings…thingies… This is the view she had, looking down that slope:

And – of course – in 3D…

Having taken those pics, I must admit I fully expected Oppy to roll on down that slope to take a closer look at the ground down there. The view to the south wasn’t bad either – this 3D view is one of the best I’ve made, I think, because of its lovely depth of field and the real sense you get, looking at it, of looking down the side of Cape York and across the floor of Endeavour to the mountains to the south…

…but nope, Oppy kept on going, kept heading north, and is now, it seems, just a drive away from rolling down into that wide, flat-bottomed crater that sits bang on the top of Cape York..!

The next pic shows where Oppy was before her latest drive¬†(at the end of the kinked yellow line) and where I think she is now (the question mark symbol, but that really is just my guesstimate, don’t take it as definitive or official, ok?):

To really appreciate just how far north Oppy has now driven, take a look at this…

Wow… And what can she see from here? Well, looking north she can see the crater that has been catching our eyes ever since we saw those first HiRISE images of Cape York, all those years ago…

It hasn’t got a name yet (can’t be long, surely?) but it’s important because it marks the location of the greatest concentration of phyllosilicates on Cape York. Here’s Oppy’s view of the crater…

Wait ’til you see it in 3D… here ya go…

That’s something, isn’t it? And how big is that crater? Well, here’s a mock-up I’ve made showing what Oppy would like to HiRISE if she drove into the centre of the crater…

Will we see that happen? Hmmm. I’m not sure. The priority at the moment is to find Oppy a nice rover-friendly north-facing slope to spend the winter clinging to, so don’t be too surprised if Oppy just keeps on scootling north for a while, effectively carrying out a survey of this part of CY, searching for a winter safe haven. After all, she can come back to all this fascinating stuff when she’s come out the other side of winter, and is basking in the warmth, and light, of the martian spring…

So, there we are. Oppy has been keeping very busy, and we’re clearly about to enter a whole new phase of the mission. Keep checking back, I wouldn’t want you to miss anything!

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2 Responses to The call of the north…

  1. dont worry none of us follower’s will miss a thing….thanks to you…..nice pics…. :-)

  2. David Hughes says:

    love your blogs, read them all the time.

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