What’s that “bump”..?

Great excitement at “Road to Endeavour” mission control this morning, when, for a short time I thought I’d spotted Cape York peeping above the far horizon..! Now I’m not so sure, in fact I’m pretty sure what I spotted is nothing to do with Oppy’s planned landfall site at all.

It all started when I downloaded this image from the Exploratorium site…

Not that dramatic when you look at it. You can see the farside eastern hills, with their big impact crater (still un-named…grrr!) on the left, and over towards the centre of the frame the double-hump of “Approach Crater”. But sometimes secrets and treasures hide in Oppy’s images, you need to use some trickery on them to see the good stuff, so I took that image and stretched it vertically, hoping to tease out some detail on the horizon that’s not obvious on the raw image. Here’s what I got…

Ahhh…. Can you see what caught my eye..? Here. I’ll show you (you might need to click on the next image to see the animation…)

Now, for a while, I really did think that maybe, just maybe, I’d spotted the highest parts of Cape York – its “Twin Peaks” – poking up above the horizon. After all, the “bump” lined up pretty well with where those peaks should be appearing anytime soon, and there were no other craters, that I knew of, in that direction. So, I allowed myself to feel a little “woo-hoo!” for a little while…

Then I dug a little deeper, and naaah, I don’t think that’s Cape York. Sigh.

I used the brilliant IAS Viewer to zoom in on a hi-resolution HiRISE image of that area, and found something. What I think that “bump” might be is a raised area of dunes that lies up ahead of Approach Crater and a little to its north (i.e. its left as we’re seeing it)…

My prime suspect is ringed in orange in that first image and above is a closer look at it… (there’s also a kind of ridge/dyke…thing… in roughly the same direction, but not sure about how that could make itself seen as a bump, so walking away quietly from that one…)

So, no sign of Cape York yet. I don’t think it will be long tho. Where should we be looking, and what will it look like when we eventually see it?

Well, the highest point of Cape York appears to be a pair of raised peaks on the north end of the island. Here’s what they look like in close-up…

That’s why I think we’re looking for a kind of “double bump” on the horizon, just to the right of the crater which dominates the hills on the farside of Endeavour. Here’s where we are now…

…and looking forward you can see how Cape York’s “Twin Peaks” (green pins) lie to the left of Approach Crater, along our current line of sight…

(See where that dunefield is? That’s why I think it’s our suspect “Bump”, but will be happy to be proved wrong!)

So, what WILL we see? I’m not sure. The very least we can expect to see is a pair of dark bumps appear on the horizon between the farside crater and Approach Crater, any day now. That will be a heck of a moment – our first sighting of Cape York, Oppy’s landfall!!

And the best we could hope for..? Well, in my over-optimistic, rover-hugging, imagination-runs-wild head, I see this…

We won’t see that, of course…but that’s ok, because what we do see will be magical enough… 🙂

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2 Responses to What’s that “bump”..?

  1. 7B8 says:

    Very nice simulation at the end. Are those some peaks in the Lake District?

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