Sizing up Cape York…

While we wait for a whole skip-load of colour filtered images showing Endeavour’s rim to come back from Mars, and following on from my recent post showing the new HiRISE portrait of Cape York, I thought it might be useful to see how big Cape York – Oppy’s point of “landfall” at Endeavour – is compared to the equivalent landscape feature reached by her sister rover, Spirit, all those years ago – the “Columbia Hills”.

Here’s a panorama I made of the Columbia Hills, using images from Spirit’s 131st day on Mars… you’ll need to click on it to see it properly, then come back when you’re done, ok?

And just for fun, here’s what Oppy is seeing at the moment – the faraway hills of Endeavour…

Note: Spirit was about 2km…ish…away from the Columbias when those images were taken, and Oppy is still around 5km away from the hills of Endeavour, so you can tell just how much bigger Endeavour’s features are.

Anyway, back to the Columbia Hills. Here’s a view of those Hills from above, showing Spirit’s route towards, up, across and over them, ending at her current – and possibly final – resting place…

Soooooo, knowing that a) Spirit was able to conquer those hills, and b) Oppy’s ultimate goal is to find and study phylosillicates on the upper parts of the hills which form the rim of Endeavour, which obviously means doing some climbing herself, the obvious question is this: how big is Cape York compared to the Columbia Hills?

Let me show you…

As you can see, Cape York is much smaller than the Columbia Hills and, to my admittedly untrained eye, look rather friendlier for driving that the slopes up to the top of Husband Hill do. Husband Hill’s peak is 110m or so above the floor of Gusev Crater, and Spirit managed to climb that. Now, I haven’t been able to find an accurate figure for the height of Cape York’s “summit” yet, but it can’t be as high as Husband Hill’s, surely? In fact, Cape York looks pretty flat to me when I Google Mars it, more like a ledge poking out into Endeavour than an actual island, so Oppy won’t do much “climb to the top and look down’ as ‘roll to the edge and look across’ (at what will surely be a breathtaking view of the hills on the far side of Endeavour! Can’t wait for that!!!). The summits of the hills to the south of Cape York look a lot higher tho, as you can see from this comparison (which is just for interest’s sake, I’m not claiming it’s oerfectly accurate, as always)…

And it’s quite fun to take a look at how the Columbia Hills compare to Endeavour as a whole…

And those hills to the south of Cape York are fascinating – and getting ever closer. Here you can see how much their appearance has changed dramatically as Oppy has driven towards them…

So, there you have it, a quick, not too serious look at the size of Cape York, as well as a closer look at the hills, further south, which Oppy might be asked to climb after she’s thoroughly explored Cape York. I’m off now to see if any more pictures have appeared on Exploratorium , so check back later! 🙂

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