A closer look at Santa Maria…

Ok, so as I write this, Oppy should actually have driven up to “Waypoint Crater” (proper name to follow soon, I’m sure) and the next pictures to be sent back will show us the interior of the crater. Looking forward to those!

Then what next?

Well, after this brief pit-stop Oppy will strike out for Santa Maria crater, which is 1.5km(ish) to the east. It’s a much larger crater than “Waypoint”, as you can see from this pic, in which I’ve placed them side by side just for the sake of comparison…

Between the two craters is a whole lot of nothing, so unless Oppy spots a tasty-looking meteorite she’ll probably drive straight to Santa Maria without any stops. When she gets there, what will she find? Well, I’ve made a new image which adds some labels to the crater, just so we can start to get our bearings in advance of Oppy’s arrival. You’ll see a green dot representing Oppy on the left side of the crater, which is roughly to the correct scale (but please, no-one moan if it’s out just a little bit, ok? It’s for fun!) which should help you see how big the crater, and the features within it, actually are. Also you’ll see there are several rocky promontories or “capes” around the edge of the crater, just as we saw back at Victoria, and Santa Maria has a very Victoria-like central “dune field” too. What Santa Maria has that we haven’t seen at any other crater so far, I think, is another area of dust dunes, this time piled up against its northern slope. That’s very interesting, and I can’t wait to get a closer look at it. Anyway, here’s the pic, click on it to enlarge it – and again, this is purely for fun, and to help us all start thinking about what we’ll see when we get there…

Finally, I thought it might be useful to see how big Santa Maria is compared to the crater “Endurance”, which Oppy spent several months investigating before she reached Victoria Crater. So, this next pic – which I’m not claiming is 1000% scientifically accurate, ok? – shows Endeavour (top), Santa Maria (centre) and Victoria all to roughly the same scale… you can see why, in the early days, Santa Maria was nicknamed “Mini-Endurance” on UMSF…

Update: just to close this “scale comparison” festival, here’s a “zoom out” image I’ve been wanting to make for ages. Click on it to enlarge it, and then, if you go from L to R, you’ll see Endurance crater, Santa Maria crater and Victoria crater all clustered together… in the middle you can see how that trio of craters compares in size to “Cape York”, the section of Endeavour’s rim Oppy will head for after leaving Santa Maria… and on the right you can see a wide-angle view of Endeavour itself. Look closely and over on the western side of the crater you’ll see Victoria crater looking very small indeed… all to scale…

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1 Response to A closer look at Santa Maria…

  1. Krzysztof K. says:

    That is fantastic to see such a comparison among craters and not so big Cape York. In my opinion Santa Maria looks like “micro Victoria” (if Endurance is “mini Victoria”).

    Btw from which PSP/ESP HiRISE photo is a crop of Santa Maria? Lately I have downloaded ESP_012820_1780_RED and in qview (isis3) it does not look that good.

    Thanks for posting I do enjoy reading your blog.

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