Yuma here we come…

Oppy has now reached a point on the southern side of Santa Maria from where she has a much clearer view of Yuma, the small, shallow depression where MER scientists are confident they will be able to find, and study, ancient martian rock that was affected and altered by water in Mars’ deep, deep past.

Here’s Oppy’s most recent panoramic view of Santa Maria (click to enlarge, as usual). Yuma is pretty much in the centre – looking like a sloping, smooth area leading down, like a dusty ramp, to the crater’s crumbling edge…

Here’s a close-up of the Yuma region…

Now, that doesn’t look too bad… very dramatic, actually, very picturesque, very stark… but when you take a look at it in 3D…

!!!! Looking at that through my 3D glasses my first thought, I must be honest, was “Oppy! Don’t go anywhere ****** NEAR it!!!” because it looks very, very smooth… like a thick layer of dust that’s settled out and is just waiting for a poor, innocent, unsuspecting Mars rover to come along, drive across it and sink into it like a baby mammoth that’s blundered into a tar pit…

But I’m sure the MER team know exacatly what they’re doing, and I think it’s a pretty safe bet that Oppy will be looking at the rocks around that smooth area, not the smooth area itself, because they’re where the scientific action is.

In fact, the rocks at Oppy’s feet wheels right now look pretty interesting…

I must admit I’m still not perfectly clear exactly what kind of rocks Oppy is wanting to study here, so I’m ggoing to fire off a few emails to people who know and write that up later. But the main thing is Oppy is now within sight, and within reach, of her major scientific goal at Santa Maria, and the rover’s mission is about to enter a whole new, exciting, scientific phase. 🙂

When Oppy finds some good rocks to study she’ll basically park up close to them and then get down to work, lowering her head, and her gaze, and concentrating on them for a while, ignoring the amazing scenerey around her. So, with that in mind, I’m going to end this post with what I think is a quite stunning 3D view over to the northern side of Santa Maria, to where those dark dust dunes are piled up against the steep northern wall. Enjoy… 🙂

* By the way, to answer a reader question, Santa Maria is just over 6km from Endeavour crater.

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One Response to Yuma here we come…

  1. Buck says:

    That close-up almost looks like it has footprints!

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