… 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 in 2004, 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 2008ย the launch of MSL (the “Mars Science Laboratory”, or “Curiosity” to give her her proper name) had beenย put back from 2009 to 2011, so this is Plan B: a blog that I hoped would turn intoย 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

Stuart Atkinson

@mars-stu on Twitter

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27 Responses to Welcome…

  1. Eric Eliason says:

    Good Luck with your new blog, a great idea to monitor the progress of Opportunity in the coming months.

    A great addition to your blog will be the anaglyph for this stereo pair:

    It will be readable by the IAS Viewer when the data gets posted on the HiRISE web site on Monday.

    Cheers… Eric Eliason

  2. paul goodwin says:

    Check out Mars Uncensored on facebook, amazing imagery there!

  3. Scott says:

    Bravo for keeping up with the journey! I read faithfully.

  4. andreaX says:

    why don’t you show a picture with the position of oppurtunity related to crater endeveaur?.
    It’s more interesting to see the distance remaining than the distance traveled.

  5. 7B8 says:


    I’m a frequent reader of your enjoyable blog, and I was wondering if there’s a way to keep updated via Twitter?


  6. J. Major says:

    Keep up the great work Stu! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Mizar says:

    Hi Stu, do you remember me, yes right, from the “Mark Carey’s yellow forum”, that’s it. You deliver great work, as usually, with the tint/touch of the “right enthusiasm”, as always. Oppy’s steadfastness seems never stop. Have you seen hortonheardawho’s last work? Drop in and leave a comment in our forum. You are welcome!

    Best regards
    Mizar from Norway

  8. Cathy says:

    Thanks for taking all the time and trouble to keep us all updated. I used to go to the official site but your enthusiasm, technical ability and imagery are far superior to anything there. I really appreciate what you are doing; there’s something new nearly every day. Please keep it up!

  9. Ewald says:

    Thanks for all the updates, it’s always so much fun to read!

  10. Matt Lenda says:

    I just realized that on the date you started this blog (December 4, 2008), I was studying for finals in my senior year of college.

  11. Cherie says:

    Thank you SO very much for putting this blog out there and keeping it updated for us! Absolutely love it!

  12. Andyj says:

    I was looking for a definitive blog to follow Opportunity. The official main sources are sadly lacking. . You are it. Got to check out your Gale blog. Thank you for your efforts. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • phoenixpics says:

      Thanks Andy, appreciate you reading the blog! Lots more exciting discioveries to come from Oppy I’m sure ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Roger Ward says:

    How sad. You have abandoned poor little Oppy for months now.

    • phoenixpics says:

      Didn’t abandon her at all, have kept an eye on her every sol; it was only a brief pause in blogging because I was so busy writing about Comet ISON. I have to sleep sometimes! But will be back on the Road this weekend with a big update.

  14. Mary says:

    Wow that new rock that just “appeared” has veins of something (sulpher?) running through it. Looks volcanic almost… prehaps it is brimstone from some martian volcanic explosion. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. John Fletcher says:

    Bet you wish you’d maintained the Curiosity blog now, eh? For all Opportunity’s achievements, and however miraculous her long life on Mars, it was Curiosity that found methane and is getting the headlines. Curiosity may have seemed less of a Rover to you, but she’s the Daddy when it comes down to what we really want to know about Mars.

    • phoenixpics says:

      No, happy with this blog thanks very much. Not sure what your problem is, but I’m very interested to read *your* blog about MSL, seeing as you’re such a fan. What? Oh, you don’t write one? Why? Too much hard work? Yeah, fair enough. After all, it is a lot easier to criticise people who actually do something than to do something yourself.

  16. John2808UK says:

    I appreciate your steadfastness in maintaining this essay marathon, and I wouldn’t criticise you at all for getting tired with Opportunity’s sojourn – but after all, the machine has done wonderfully well; a credit to the designers and engineers who built it.
    BUT PLEASE…. (because you’re a thinking man) can you stop referring to Opportunity as ‘Oppy’ and as if it were female? It is a MACHINE, made of inorganics; nothing more, nothing less. It has no gender and it is not alive – it cannot breath or reproduce and is not capable of abstract thought and ideas. Please be rational about these things.

    • phoenixpics says:

      Thanks, I really appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment (and also for reading my blog), and I do kind of see where you’re coming from, but many of the MER team are happy to refer to Opportunity as “Oppy”, just as a term of affection for its achievements and ongoing success, so if it’s good enough for them it’s good enough for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • John2808UK says:

        And the female bit? When did titanium, aluminium, plutonium et.al. suddenly acquire hairy chests or breasts?

  17. phoenixpics says:

    As I’m sure you’re aware, ships of exploration are historically referred to as “she”. If you have come across any mention of breasts in any of my posts, please forward me a link and I will remove it.

  18. John2808UK says:

    Thank you for that – your point is taken. I assure you that you do not refer to any part of the human anatomy (excepting eyes, perhaps) within your essays. I suppose we must also admit that some planets are female (Earth, Venus) and some male (Jupiter, Mars) – and, (being an ex-Royal Navy navigator) I always referred to the Sun as ‘he’. Regards, John.

  19. Robert McCullough says:

    New horizons Bob

  20. Robert McCullough says:

    Have you checked out today’s xkcd.com? If not, you will love it. In case you read this later, today is Friday, March 27. Opportunity has been my favorite space mission of all time, and I grew up with the space program. I thoroughly enjoy your column. Please keep it up.

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