Farewell Santa Maria…..

Yes, it’s true! At last, the news we’ve all been waiting for…

Opportunity has finally left Santa Maria, and is now headed for Endeavour crater!

I actually heard this news yesterday, when “Tesheiner” from UMSF reported on the forum that telemetry received from Oppy suggested she had driven around 100m away from the crater, almost due east, and a Tweet from Scott Maxwell suggested that was the case, too, but I didn’t want to say anything here until I had the pictures showing Oppy had driven away from the crater. (Not that I didn’t believe Tesh and Scott, it just wouldn’t have made a very exciting post visually, that’s all! 🙂 )

The actual raw images aren’t back yet, but we do have “thumbnail” images showing Oppy’s tracks leading away from the crater, and they’re good enough for me! So, everyone, here you are…

…and a 3D view for good measure…

So, where has Oppy driven to? This graphic, created using Tesheiner’s latest invaluable .kml file for Google Mars, shows us…

Seen from a different angle…

Let’s look at the Bigger Picture…

Oppy now has 6km of wide open, martian Big Country Meridiani plain to cross before reaching Cape York. We can’t see that feature yet, because it’s hidden by the dips and rises of the terrain between Santa Maria and the rim of Endeavour, but we know which part of the horizon to aim for, and if my messing about with calculations with Google Mars are right, then here’s where Oppy will now be heading… (click on it for ‘guidance’) 😉

So, that was Santa Maria! It turned out to be a truly fascinating place… but it’s behind us now, and Oppy is striking out for Endeavour, just half a dozen kilometres away. Will she make it? I’ve no idea. No-one has. No-one can have. But I have absolute faith in Oppy herself, and in the amazing team of men and women behind her – who dreamed her up, designed her, built her, sent her to Mars and now drive her across its ruddy, rolling desert. The road ahead is long, and there’s not going to be a lot on it to see, or make pretty colour views of, but every sol from now on will take us a little closer to Endeavour… every sol from now on we’ll see those faraway hills grow a little larger, a little sharper… every sol from now on we’ll be one sol closer to conducting fascinating science on the rim of an enormous, ancient martian crater that could re-write the science books for generations to come…

It’s been an amazing adventure so far, but the real adventure has just begun. I hope you’ll follow it – and participate in it – through this blog.

To close with, an imaginary view of what HiRISE would have seen if it had been looking down at Santa Maria as Oppy left…

Onwards, Oppy! Onwards!

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2 Responses to Farewell Santa Maria…..

  1. Pingback: Carnival of Space 188

  2. Pingback: Das erste Bild von einer Raumsonde im Orbit um den Planeten Merkur « Skyweek Zwei Punkt Null

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