Homestake in hit-and-run horror…

Martian Police are urgently seeking witnesses to a horrific hit and run incident which occurred on Cape York a couple of sols ago. Photographs taken at the scene suggest that the popular, light-toned feature known as “Homestake” was run over – not once, but several times – by a wheeled vehicle, which did not stop. Although there were no direct witnesses, Police are keen to interview the drivers of the Mars Exploration Rover “Opportunity” which was known to be in the area at the time. A clearly distressed spokesman for the Meridiani Metropolitan Police said: “This is a very sad day. In years to come, tourists, settlers and colonists will come here to look at the rocks and features made famous on photographs. When they look for Homestake they’ll be expecting to see a line of beautiful, flat orange stones. But all they’ll see will be this mussed-up area, with Homestake pressed down into the dirt. It’s a great shame, and I hope the vandals responsible for this are very proud of themselves this morning…”

Okay, so that’s not quite what happened! But the pictures don’t lie – before departing for the north, to hunt for a nice north-facing slope to spend the winter on, Oppy not only ran over Homestake, she ran over it a couple of times! Here, look at the “before” and” after” views…

You can see clearly on that image that Oppy ran right over Homestake, her weight pressing the rocks down into the dirt. And look at the wheel tracks around it! She must’ve turned around like the General Lee in The Dukes of Hazard!

Why?!?! What made them do this? What had Homestake done to them? What made Scott and his fellow drivers go on this rover rampage? He’s a nice guy, I’ve met him, he wouldn’t hurt a fly (unless it was insulting Spirit). What on Earth, or Mars, posessed him?!

Well, it’s actually a brilliant way of doing some very practical science on Mars and with Homestake. By driving Oppy over Homestake, and photographing what happened to it, the MER team were able to see how hard its rocks are, how they were lying in the ground, what was underneath them, things like that. It was the next best thing to kneeling down beside them and seeing if they could turn them over, lift them out of the ground, or just scratch them with their fingernails, which is what geologists usually do when they spot something interesting.

…but jeez, look at the mess they made!

Before looking at that image in more detail, let’s quickly “go 3D” and see what happened to the ground around Homestake…

You can see they did a pretty good demolition job on the middle part of ol’ Homestake…! :-) But I’m sure it told them a great deal about the rocky feature, and that even now members of the MER science team are feverishly working away updating their presentations and press releases, ready to tell the world just why Homestake was so exciting…

One ‘trick’ planetary science types use to learn about a place is to look at it in ‘false colour’. This brings out subtle shades, tones and features which aren’t immediately obvious to the naked eye when seen in ‘real colour’. So, here’s a retina-burning false colour image of Homestake…

What does that tell us? Well, it doesn’t tell me anything, I’m not a planetary scientist! :-) But I think it does show more clearly that that central section of Homestake was pressed pretty hard down into the ground. Never thought of Oppy as hefty before, but…

Before – and quite possibly as – she ran over Homestake, Oppy took a look at another rocky feature down at her feet, a lumpy bumpy rocky patch which was poetically christened “Deadwood” (and you are SO singing ‘The Deadwood Stage…’ from the musical OKLAHOMA in your head right now, aren’t you? No? Oh, you will be soon, now I’ve put it in your head…!)…

Oppy took quite a close look at Deadwood, most likely to allow the MER science team to make a direct comparison between it and Homestake. Here’s an enhanced Microscopic Imager view of the surface of a part of Deadwood..

After taking those images, and running over Homestake, Oppy fled the scene, heading north in search of somewhere nice to spend the winter. When she stopped, about 50m further north from Homestake, she stopped and took a look around. Warning: before looking at this next image, put your hand under your jaw, ‘cos it’s going to drop…

…and in 3D…

This is our first really good look at the hills over to the east of Endeavour. They stand out better when you stretttttttttch the view vertically…

So, quite a couple of days! I wonder what today’s images will show us? And while we wait for those, let’s all look forward to hearing what the science team made of Homestake, because they did spend a *lot* of time there when they really had to be getting Oppy further north, to a sunny slope, so **something** about Homestake must have made them think it was worth it…

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11 Responses to Homestake in hit-and-run horror…

  1. Bev says:

    I can well imagine that last pic being “borrowed” and posted on some conspiracy site, titled, “The Broken Forests of Mars – what they don’t want you to see!” (No, but seriously, with the view stretched, my pre-coffee brain registered the rocks as tree trunks on a mountainside.)

    • phoenixpics says:

      Whenever I do a Google search for Endeavour-related images I’m always amazed to see where my colourisations and anagylphs are being used. Some give credit, some don’t. I bet that stretched image will appeal to the Woo Woo tin foil hat-wearing brigade, you’re right! :-)

  2. J. Major says:

    I didn’t know “rover” was short for “Run-Over”!

  3. aykayem says:

    I see buildings, with windows … (the sort they carved out of the rocks in places like Syria and Turkey etc)
    … so maybe there IS life on Mars? (now isn’t THAT a song one would rather have stuck in their head? … some classic David Bowie ;-)

    • phoenixpics says:

      Not sure about the windows thing but cool song, and yes, a much better tune to have going around your head than “Whipcrack Away”…! ;-)

  4. Corinna says:

    I also did the draw dropping bit when I took a look and wondered what the black things were and even more so on the streeeeeetched view heheh. Definitely a left over Martian forest from when John Carter lived and loved on Mars. :)

    • phoenixpics says:

      Haha, like the way you thibk Corinna ;-) The John Carter film coms out next year… I’m half excited to see their vision of Mars, and half terrified they’ll have completely messed it all up…

  5. vanDivX says:

    You disappointed me not mentioning my posting under the previous blog entry “Farewell Homestake..?”.

    There I suggested exactly what the oppy crew did. Probably it happened even before I posted but at that time I had no clue what they were doing. Or again they might have read my post under your article and decided that was a good idea to do.

    In any case it makes me feel proud LOL like being part of the planning or driving crew. Too bad I have to pat myself on the shoulder by myself but that’s life for you.

    • phoenixpics says:

      No slight intended, I assure you. I tend to review comments once a week or so – too busy *writing* the blog to answer comments every day, I’m afraid – and tonight is my night for doing that. You were right about it being a good idea, yes, but I don’t think you inspired them to do it ;-) Both rovers have, IIRC, driven over rocks and features before in an attempt to learn more about them, and don’t forget the Phoenix lander actually tipped a rock *over* to get at the material underneath. But consider your back well and truly patted for thinking along the same lines as the MER team :-)

  6. Matt Lenda says:

    This is hilarious…

    Wait, I mean, **a very serious tyrant is roaming free, why isn’t he in jail?**

    >_>

    -m

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