Named – where Oppy will make “landfall”

Finally, after all these months of waiting, we have a name for the part of the rim of Endeavour Crater where Opportunity will – all being well – roll up to and on to at the end of her epic trek across the great Meridiani desert…

I had a few suspicions, I must admit. Looking down the list of places named by Capt Cook during his exploration of Australia, a few names jumped out, for different reasons.

“Botany Bay” – a name familiar to everyone, a romantic, historic name, and the name of Khan’s ship from Star Trek šŸ™‚

“Cape Capricorn” – ooh, I’d like that as a nod to the brilliant film “Capricorn One”…

“Eagle Island” – now THAT would have been nice, honouring the spirit of Apollo 11…

Needless to say, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The winner is… (roll on the drums please)…


Yes, that’s the official (well, semi-official; the MER team can only put forward provisional, working names. They have to be ratified officially later on, but I’ve never heard of a prov name being changed, so we can be pretty sure this is The Name now) name for the small “island” of rock Oppy is now heading towards, on the north-western rim of Endeavour…

That’s where it is, let’s take a closer look at what it looks like from above, and where we hope Oppy will eventually make “landfall”…

And where is the terrestrial Cape York? Here…

“Cape York” is the northernmost point of mainland Australia, and was named by Captain Cook on August 21st 1770.

So, there you go… that’s where Oppy is heading. Good to finally have a name for it, isn’t it? One thing we haven’t yet tho is a picture of it from Oppy, ‘cos Cape York isn’t visible over the horizon yet. When might it appear? And where on the skyline?

It’s impossible to answer the first of those two questions, because there are so many variables. Oppy is stop-start driving, so suggesting any date is a waste of time. Dips and rises in the local topography not visible to Oppy now or from the orbiters flying around Mars will mean our line-of-sight view to Cape York is very complicated, too. And, of course, Oppy’s route isn’t an as-the-crow-flies straight line, so it’s pretty much impossible to say.

But the second question might, MIGHT, be a little less hard to answer. Oppy isn’t going to stray too far from her present course – she’ll only drift a little further north or a little further south – so, in theory, we can line up Oppy’s most recent position with known features on the horizon, and see where Cape York MIGHT line up with them. If you do that, then you get this…

In a wonderful coincidence, Cape York lines up very well with that small crater visible on the inside of the most distant of Endeavour’s hills (which you can see as a circular feature on the hill over on the right side of the image below – click to enlarge)…

So, again in theory, as we advance towards Endeavour, one sol, Cape York should appear roughly in that direction, beneath and probably a little to the right of the crater… (again, click to enlarge)

We probably won’t see Cape York for another month or so, but we’ll have to wait and see…! But when it comes, our first view might be something like this…

And finally, I just noticed that one of the HiRISE shots of this part of Endeavour Crater has an “Anaglyph” option… that’s “3D” in plain English… so I took a look at it with the brilliant online IAS Viewer, and wow, what a view! A quick Photoshop stitch together of four crops of the image, and here you go, “Cape York” in all its 3D glory! (click to enlarge, as usual).

Just take a few moments to drift over it, taking in all the hill peaks, craters, boulder- and dune fields… It really will be a fascinating place once we get there šŸ™‚

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4 Responses to Named – where Oppy will make “landfall”

  1. TCs says:

    Your second suggested name contains a Freudian slip, if I’m not mistaken.

    • phoenixpics says:

      Oh cripes! :-0 Well spotted, and thanks for letting me know!

      • TCs says:

        BTW, do you happen to know roughly how many months it will take Oppy to get to Santa Maria crater, its next major landmark, at the rate it’s currently travelling?

      • phoenixpics says:

        There’s no way we can know that, far too many variables to take into account. Basically, she’ll get there when she gets there šŸ™‚

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