Welcome…

… to the “The Road To Endeavour”, a blog dedicated to following the ongoing mission of the Mars Exploration Rover ‘Opportunity’ as she explores the rim of the giant martian crater ‘Endeavour’!

Opportunity – or “Oppy” as many rover enthusiasts call her – landed on Mars eight years ago, and it was hoped at the time that she’d last maybe 90 days and drive up to a kilometre across the surface of Mars. Eight years later, having survived dust storms, mechanical problems and everything Mars can throw at her, Oppy is still working, and after driving to and studying several smaller craters further north, near her original landing site, she’s now studying a huge crater called “Endeavour”, analysing the rocks and dust there, trying to figure out if that part of Mars was once wetter, and warmer, and maybe even a possible habitat for life. Every day she takes, and sends back to Earth, photographs of the martian landscape, and this is where you’ll find them – original images and many I create myself, by stitching together raw images, colourising them or turning pairs of them into 3D “anaglyphs” which can give you the impresion of being *on* Mars…

This is actually a blog I wasn’t planning to write. I was planning on starting up a blog dedicated to the Mars Science Laboratory – NASA’s next mission to Mars – but when it was announced back in December 2008 the launch of MSL (the “Mars Science Laboratory”, or “Curiosity” to give her her proper name) had been put back from 2009 to 2011, so this is Plan B: a blog that I hoped would turn into a kind of travelogue, first following Opportunity’s long, loooong drive south to Endeavour crate and then chronicling her adventures once she got there – IF she got there…

Well, she not only got there, but since getting there she’s done some amazing science – and the best may yet be to come…

So, here’s the place to come for images of Endeavour Crater, as seen by Mars Reconaissance Orbiter and other probes, and by Oppy herself. It’s not meant to be serious, or particularly scientific, just a place to come for some interesting pictures and news updates, really. I hope you like what you find here, and keep checking for new images. 🙂

Stuart Atkinson

@mars-stu on Twitter

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | 27 Comments

Two views of Mars…

Browsing the always-brilliant “Midnight Planets” website earlier I found quite a few images – sent back by Opportunity and Curiosity – that could be stitched together to make panoramic views… so I stitched them together to make panoramic views… 😉 Here, then, are two views of Mars taken by a pair of rovers many, many miles apart. One planet, two rovers, two very different landscapes… Curiosity’s view (top) shows the mountainous rim of Gale Crater from the inside, while Opportunity’s view (middle) shows part of the meandering Perseverance Valley from within it, with, as an added treat, a colourised crop from it (bottom)…

hills b

pano8b2f

Image2vb_stitch b2

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

2017 9-11 Anniversary

Today, on the 16th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, it’s good to remember that both Mars Exploration Rovers were fitted with small pieces of the wreckage from the fallen World Trade Centres, as tributes to those who were murdered. Today, on Mars, Opportunity will no doubt, at some point, hold hers up against the pink martian sky in silent salute to the thousands of people who died on that terrible day. I also like to think of it as defiantly sticking up a finger at the scum who carried out the atrocities.

Opportunity, and her sister Spirit, are illustrations of how different people can be. On 9-11 ignorant scum chose to use modern technology to butcher innocent, terrified people. Today, on Mars, Opportunity, built by people who valued science, discovery and curiosity, is carrying a piece of the towers they toppled, proof that for all the evil and wickedness in some people’s hearts many, many more dedicate their lives to helping others and helping our species grow by exploring, by pushing back boundaries and by facing the unknown and the different with wonder-filled eyes instead of hate-filled hearts.

Give some people a box full of wires, circuits and other parts and they will make a bomb. Give others the same box and they will make an MRI scanner, a wheelchair or a Mars rover. And that’s the difference between us, and them. In a thousand years, when Opportunity is on display in the Museum of Mars, long after the fundamentalist lunatics have been forgotten, that small piece of the World Trade Centre will still be there for everyone to see – proof that no matter how cruel they are, how violent they are, how evil they are, people who carry out wicked attacks like that will never, ever, win.

Mars Rovers - 9-11

Processing: Stuart Atkinson  Original images: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Cornell

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

No rush…

Not much to see really from Opportunity recently, hence the lack of posts. She’s just idling down Perseverance Valley, taking her time, not rushing. Consequently the view hasn’t been changing much from day to day. But I’ve made a few images from the frames that have come back…

x

pano2b3bf

pano2bf

20170828_210846

1P557073184EFFD048P2397L2M1_stitch b2

1P557073184EFFD048P2397L2M1_stitch b2b

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Vera Rubin Ridge

While we wait for more images to come back from Opportunity, I thought you might like to see a panoramic mosaic I’ve processed out of around 50 images sent back by the Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity. This is a view of Vera Rubin Ridge. I hope you’ll click on it to enlarge it then just pan around it, exploring…

pano1b3fb

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Looking around…

Now out of her solar conjunction radio silence, Opportunity is sending back some really nice views of the interior of Endeavour crater, as she starts to edge her way down Perseverance Valley. Unfortunately, most of these simply refuse to stitch together to make the nice panoramic views I like sharing with you here, but I’ve done my best with a few new images, just to catch up with our rover’s progress really…

1N555916486EFFD000P1957L0M1_stitch b2

1N555916486EFFD000P1957L0M1_stitch b2b.jpg

oppy glow

Ok, just to be TOTALLY clear here, that last image, above, is colourised and processed in a purely artistic way; I’m not suggesting for a second that you would see anything like that with your own eyes if you were there. It’s just an unashamed pretty picture, nothing scientifically useful or accurate about it.

More soon… 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Mars calling Earth… Mars calling Earth…

Images have started to come back from Opportunity (and Curiosity) again, so it seems that the latest “solar conjunction” is over and the phone lines between Earth and Mars are open again. For the past couple of weeks the Sun has been between the two planets, making communication between them very difficult, so there has been very little to report or show here. But now the websites which post the images returned from Mars are displaying lots of new pictures, so it seems all is well, and surely it won’t be long now until Oppy is rolling down Perseverance Valley.

I’m busy playing catch-up now, downloading new images and processing them. Here are my latest images which  hope you’ll enjoy…

1F555116653EDNCZZ0P1121R0M1b2

Image1bb

Image2b

pano18b

pano20bb

20170806_001444bbf

I really am pleased with that last image. I’ve removed some of the distortion of the view, rotated it a little to flatten the horizon and show that Opportunity is on a slope, and added some colour to make it a little more martian, but PLEASE note I’m not suggesting for a moment that it’s supposed to be real colour; it’s more of an “artistic take” on the raw image Opportunity sent back.

Check back soon for more news and images from Opportunity. 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Time to rest…

Opportunity is spending solar conjunction having a well-deserved rest from roving, and is spending her time just looking around and taking in the view from the top of Perseverance Valley. So, not much to report but a few new pictures to share with you, in no particular order…

Image1f

Imagec1

pano15b

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment