Farewell, Marquette…

Finally, to the relief of many impatient backseat rover drivers, after several weeks of intense study and examination, Oppy has driven away from the huge, headstone-like slab of rock christened “Marquette Island” by the MER team, and is now heading for a feature – nicknamed  “Fresh Crater” by members of the Unmannedspaceflight.com forum – on the horizon.

Before putting the pedal to the metal and heading for pastures new, Oppy carried out some final studies of the Marquette Island, which Steve Squyres hailed as “the most important rock we’ve seen on Mars so far”…

Then, yesterday, I went to Exploratorium and saw this…

– no sign of Marquette Island anywhere, just tracks leading away from the rover, showing it had moved on…

So, that’s it! Marquette Island is history! It could be as much as a century until it has more visitors, so this really was a historic event for everyone concerned. Oppy certainly spent a long time looking at Marquette, to the puzzlement of many, but no doubt the reasons why the rock was so fascinating to MER scientists will come out eventually.

What next?

Well, this is what Oppy is now heading for… a fresh-looking crater up ahead, on the horizon,  nicknamed by UMSF’s backseat drivers “Fresh Crater”! 🙂

Click on the following image to enlarge it and you’ll see that, in close up, Fresh Crater – or at least the material around it – looks very dark and chaotic…

When you look at “Fresh Crater” from above – by looking at it on a HiRISE image taken of the area around Victoria Crater – you can actually see some of the large rocks and stones scattered around and inside it…

 

… and a dark ray of ejecta (rocks, stones and dust) shooting away to the south-east, from around the 4pm position. How big is “Fresh Crater”? Well, again, using the HiRISE image as a comparison, we can see it’s actually quite a bit bigger than “Duck Crater”, the crater studied by Oppy on the rim of Duck Bay, all those sols ago…

Let’s remind ourselves what “Duck Crater” looked like, back on Sol 1661 when Oppy was preparing to drive away from Victoria Crater…

Think that’s impressive? It looks even more impressive in 3D…!

(And if you click on that image to make it bigger you can actually see the hills of Endeavour Crater on the horizon!! 🙂  )

So, all those comparisons taken together, I think that when we get there we will see a larger, darker, deeper version of “Duck Crater” – i.e. quite a deep pit, surrounded by some rather large, dark blocks and pieces of ejecta, maybe some pieces of the impactor too…

But that’s for future sols. For now, let’s just enjoy the thrill of the drive, and the new scenery…! 🙂

UPDATE: Since I started writing this post some more images of Oppy’s departure from Marquette have come down…

And our final view of Marquette? On a couple of images shown on Exploratorium yesterday, there’s a dark speck at the top left that might well be Marquette – in fact, I can’t think of anything else it might be. So, this is our last view of Marquette Island…

Here’s a closer look…

Finally, a 3D version… Marquette is very hard to see, even on the enlarged version…

When will human eyes look upon Marquette Island again? It won’t be for many decades, that’s for sure, maybe even a century. So, farewell, strange rock. You were certainly absolutely fascinating to the MER scientists, so we’ll look forward to the day your secrets are revealed…! 🙂

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4 Responses to Farewell, Marquette…

  1. Pingback: Oppy update… « Cumbrian Sky

  2. Tom says:

    Oppy, your sister is dying in Gusev. We never know how long you have, so keep running toward the big crater. Run little rover run! 🙂

  3. James Canvin says:

    “and they must have thought long and hard about this name – “Fresh Crater”!”

    ‘They’ in this case being us! I think “Fresh Crater” is an UMSF name, I don’t think it has, or at least we don’t know, it’s real name yet.

  4. Pingback: Carnival of Space #137 « One Astronomer's Noise

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