Honouring Columbus’ crew…

The MER team has now started giving names to some of the rocks and features in Oppy’s field of view as she begins her study of “Yuma”. The rocks are being named after members of Christopher Columbus’ crew, and I’m finding it’s really interesting to look into the backgrounds of the names. Some of you out there in the blogosphere might find it interesting too.

First of all, let’s stand beside Oppy and see what she’s seeing, courtesy of a fantastic mosaic image created by the brains behind the Midnight Mars Browser software, UMSF’s mhoward…

If you click on that and enlarge it you’ll see three of the rocks in that view have been given the names “Terreros”, “Ruiz Garcia” and “Rodrigo de Jerez”. Let’s take a look at each of these rocks in turn, and look into their background stories.

First, here’s “Terreros”…

…and in 3D…

That’s a very interesting rock. Actually, when I saw that semi-circular cavity on the bottom left my first thought was “That looks like the meteorite, Mackinac Island…” but the rest of the thing looks very rocky and nobbly, so it’s probably not a meteorite. But then again, what if it is a meteorite, a really, really old one, that’s become coated and encrusted with dusty material? I don’t know, just kicking ideas around. Really want to see some colour pics of it tho.

…and I was absolutely fascinated, and quite touched, to be honest, to learn (if I’ve got this right, I can’t see anyone else with the name on the crew roster I’m consulting) that this rock was named after Pedro de Terreros, who was the cabin boy on the Santa Maria! Really, I think that’s brilliant. Just think about that. How lowly a figure must the cabin boy of the Santa Maria have been? What kind of a general dogsbody was he? And now, he’s immortalised on the surface of another planet, BEFORE a rock is named after Christopher Columbus himself! I think that’s just wonderful, I really do. 🙂

Moving on we come to “Ruiz Garcia”…

…and in 3D…

It’s not much to look at, I know, but maybe it will look a bit more impressive when Oppy gets a bit nearer. In the meantime, who was “Ruiz Garcia”? Well, I can’t find out anything about him, sorry.

But that’s not the case for our third “in the spotlight” rock, “Rodrigo de Jerez”…

…and in 3D…

That’s a weird looking thing isn’t it? It looks like a badly eroded shard of something sharp, protruding out of the ground. Can’t wait to see colour pictures of it! Now, it turns out that, apparrently, Rodrigo was the first European to try smoking! This was after he observed the natives of the New World rolling up and smoking tobacco leaves. When he returned to his home town of Ayamonte Rodrigo showed all his friends and neighbours “smoking”, but they were so spooked and distressed by the clouds of smoke surrounding him that they reported him to the authorities and he was tried and thrown in jail for seven years by the Spanish Inquisition! I bet he wasn’t expecting that… (bum tish!)

So, there you go. Rocks on Mars, named after figures from the history of exploration on Earth.

And people wonder why I love the MER mission and its team so much…

* UPDATE: I’m not so sure about the “cabin boy” link now. I’ve just been looking at another website giving details of the Santa Maria’s crew, and this one says that “Terreros” was a “steward”, and that the cabin boy’s name was “Pedro de Acevedo”. But another website I consulted initially had the cabin boy’s name as “Pedro de Terreros”. Hmm. I’m confused. This might turn into a bit of a detective story.

UPDATE #2: Okaaay… so, it turns out our cabin boy might actually have been the person who wrecked the Santa Maria off Hispaniola!! Apparrently he was given the wheel of the Santa Maria by a crewman who had himself been given the wheel and told to steer the ship… Pedro steered the ship alright, onto a reef, where it was wrecked. (The wreckage was used by Columbus and his crew to make a wooden fort). This is turning into quite a story. So if it turns out that the rock Terreros wasn’t named after the cabin boy after all, I’m going to suggest one IS named after him anyway… 🙂

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One Response to Honouring Columbus’ crew…

  1. Pingback: Roving the Edge « Lights in the Dark

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