Where are we – and where are we going..?

With Oppy currently taking a bit of a breather, while the MER team take a look at an “issue” with one of her motors, I thought it might be a good time to take a closer look at just where we are, and where we’re going next. No, not Endeavour; that’s the ultimate goal, yes, but there’s at least one major stop-off planned along the way…

First, let’s see just where Oppy is right now:

2256 days into her 90 day mission ( 🙂 ) Oppy is now well south of her most recent stop-off, the “Twin Craters”, and from a slightly different point of view it’s clear that she’s turned east now, and is finally heading towards Endeavour itself…

Looking at this part of the route from above, you can see that Oppy has been “hopping” between exposed patches of rock inbetween the dust dunes and drifts. The MER team call this “lilly padding”, comparing Oppy to a frog boinging from one lilly pad to another on a pond…

Okay, so what’s next?

If you look at this graphic you can see that en-route to Endeavour, Oppy will call at an intriguing-looking crater just over 5km away, to the south-east, called “Santa Maria”…

Can’t tell much from that, so I’ve put together a hi-resolution portrait of Santa Maria, made from a HiRISE image… (please click on it to bring up the full size image)

Now, obviously Santa Maria is a lot smaller than either Endeavour or Victoria, but it’s still a respectable size, with some fascinating features to study if/when Oppy gets there. Some MER fans are calling it “Mini Endurance” because it has that rippled dune field on its floor, and some cliffs surrounding it. But it’s still a bit hard to grasp its scale, so let’s look at how big Oppy would look, to HiRISE, if/when she arrives there…

You can find Oppy by following the dark line on the left side of the picture. That is as close to the correct scale as I can make it, but I’m not claiming it’s perfect, so please, no complaints, ok? 🙂

Here’s another pic I made, showing two Oppys exploring Santa Maria, just to add some more scale information…

I really, really hope we can get to Santa Maria, it looks like there’s a lot to see there… but it’s a long way away, more than 5km away. That doesn’t sound a lot, but when you look at it on this scale…

5km is roughly the distance from the Millenium Dome to Tower Bridge…

gulp…

We’ll see. It’s all part of the adventure of this amazing, remarkable journey, isn’t it? (and I mean ‘journey’ in its true sense, not the sickly-sweet sense it’s used on TV talent shows, when wannabe pop star, opera singers or street dances wax lyrical about their ‘journey’ from street rat to celebrity…)

Hopefully Oppy will be on the move again soon. In the meantime, let’s finish this post with a fanciful (i.e. I completely made it up) look at Santa Maria in colour, and dream of what we might find when Oppy gets there…

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6 Responses to Where are we – and where are we going..?

  1. Heimdall says:

    Very nice work, thank you!

    Looking forward to future updates.

  2. Jedrus says:

    If you compare this Santa Maria/Mini-Endurance to old Endurance and Victoria craters,
    why don’t you give us the theirs diameters ?
    Simple and effective …

  3. Andrew Brown says:

    Can I ask, where did you get the Santa Maria Crater image from???

    Andrew Brown.

    • phoenixpics says:

      I kind of made it myself, Andrew; I pasted together several crops of Santa Maria, as seen by HiRISE and displayed via the IAS Viewer, then sharpened up the resulting mosaic and then added some colour until it looked roughly martian. So it’s a bit of a cobble together, but it does the job, I think 🙂

  4. Pingback: 2010 in review | The Road To Endeavour

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