In my previous post I mentioned that the latest “Rover Update”, written by journalist AJS Rayl, has been posted on the Planetary Society’s blog. One of the highlights of this update was this clarification of the rover team’s plan for getting “onto” Cape York…
The course charted will take Opportunity up to Endeavour’s Cape York by way of Botany Bay, Arvidson confirmed. “Botany Bay through CRISM data shows hydrated sulfates and it’s an easier approach to the southern side of Cape York where the phyllosilicates are exposed.”
Ahhh…. right… that makes things a lot clearer! The latest NASA “rover traverse map” (which I showed in a recent post) very frustratingly had the bottom cut off, so we couldn’t see Oppy’s “final approach” to, and landfall at, Cape York. Like many people I had assumed that Oppy would make landfall on the south-western ‘shore’ of the island, but it turns out that landfall will now be on the southern tip itself, suggesting they really want to get to that young-looking crater that’s down at that end of the Cape. Which makes sense; craters are windows into the past, and toss up all kinds of interesting rocks and material, so the chance to go dig around in all that rubbly goodness is just too good for Oppy to pass up 🙂
So, what I’ve done here is make a high resolution mosaic of Cape York and “Botany Bay” – the flat, mini-plain just to the south of it. I’ve added some “to the same scale, Virtual Oppys” (coloured red) too, to give a sense of scale which I hope some of you will find useful. Obviously you’ll need to click on the next image to see it properly.
Clearly this means “landfall” is a bit further – and longer – away than we thought, but that’s ok. The prize is worth the extra drive! 🙂