On your marks, Oppy…

Big news! I saw two things on t’internet last night that made it clear that Oppy is now FINALLY getting ready to leave Santa Maria and set off for the faraway hills of Endeavour. First, was this simple line of text on the MER website I use to keep track of where Oppy has been and where she is going… you’ll probably have to click on this image to be able to read it properly…

See? Up there at the top? “Drive direction”!!! They only use that when Oppy is about to move significantly, to actually drive somewhere new instead of just nudge or bump along a bit to somewhere nearby…

Then I saw this Tweet by rover driver and friend of this blog, Scott Maxwell…

There! Confirmation! Oppy’s time at Santa Maris is finally coming to an end, and – as I suggested in a previous post would be a very fitting way to say goodbye to the crater – she will drive off and head for Endeavour on the very anniversary of the last time we heard from her sister river, Spirit.

So these are Oppy’s final hours at Santa Maria. In another day or so she will be heading off, and striking out for Endeavour.

Here, then, are some of the last pictures I’ll make of Oppy’s stay at Santa Maria. First, another couple of portraits of the RAT (The “Rock Abrasion Tool” on the end of the robot arm)…

Again, those are as close to “real colour” as I can get.

I had some really good, positive feedback to my recent “Ansell Adams’ view of Santa Maria” pic, so here’s the *other* side of the crater, envisaged the same way…

Again, I’m really pleased with that. It might not be the “real” Mars, but it’s the Mars I see in my head, and hold dear in my heart, so it’s good enough for me 🙂

Finally, for this time, here’s a panoramic view of Oppy’s horizon. These are the images taken during the aforementioned “Drive direction” shoot. You’ll see several bumps on the horizon. These are the hills of Endeavour, its raised rim, and the ones on the far right are the ones Oppy will be heading for when she starts roving again.

So, Oppy heads away from Santa Maria tomorrow… about time… almost exactly a year to the day since we last heard from Spirit. Kind of fitting, don’t you think? And when I see those first post-drive images, showing Santa Maria vanishing behind Oppy, I’ll imagine Spirit whispering, from the other side of Mars, from over the horizon, “You have to take the torch now… you have to explore for both of us…”

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