A new Odyssey for Opportunity…

Unbelievable.

Just…unbelievable.

The images that came down overnight were just…stunning… Oppy is now withing spitting distance (well, spitting distance in the low gravity of Mars!) of Spirit Point, and one, maybe two more short drives away from making landfall at the end of her longest journey. Ahead, she can now see right down the ramp of Botany Bay into and across Endeavour. To her right, she can now see the Tribulation Range rearing up in all its glory. And to her left, she can see the gentle rise of Cape York – and, most remarkably of all, the huge blocks and boulders of one which stand like sentinels on the rim of Odyssey crater, the crater which dominates the southern end of Cape York.

And she can see the bright harbour-like semi-circle of Spirit Point, just ahead…

Let me show you…

What are we seeing there? Let’s add some labels…

…and to put that in context…

Fancy a 3D view? Of course you do… 😉

Looking at that you really get the impression of Oppy starting to move down the ramp of Botany Bay and beginning to skirt around and approach Spirit Point, don’t you? And if you stretch the image, that impression grows even stronger…

Incredible, just incredible…! 🙂

A couple of features in this rapidly-being-revealed landscape catch the eye. Firstly, the rocks at Oppy’s feet/wheels show quite beautiful and striking layering…

Those layers stand out even more clearly in 3D…

…but the real star of the show, for me, anyway, is the collection of rocks visible up around the still-hidden rim of Odyssey Crater…

I’m pretty confident Oppy *will* be climbing up to take a closer look at that crater, and those rocks, before too long, then we will get some inCREDible views, of the huge boulders – some of them Oppy’s size or even larger! – in front of the vast bowl backdrop of Endeavour… 🙂

So, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve arrived at Endeavour Crater. We haven’t made landfall yet, that won’t happen for a few more sols yet – Oppy will take her time approaching Spirit Point, no doubt taking close looks at some of the rocks scattered around and beneath her along the way. In fact, it seems she’s already had a peek at the ground beneath her, going by this new microscopic imager picture…

In the sols ahead Oppy will draw closer to Spirit Point. The boulders round Odyssey Crater will loom larger above her, and the long plate of Cape York will be revealed in more and more detail. She’ll start studying the rocks at her feet very closely, beginning that quest to locate those all-important phyloilicates. Make no mistake, this is a whole new mission now, a whole new adventure for the rover that faced, and overcame, everything – dust storms, technical faults, mechanical failures – that Mars and the universe threw at it. She’s still standing, still roving, and after long months and years of endless slog across the almost featureless desert of Meridiani, she’s now surrounded by mountains and boulders, on the edge of the most enormous crater ever explored on Mars.

With no astronauts due to set foot on the Red Planet for decades, this is the closest our generation will get to a manned mission to Mars, believe me, so savour each and every moment of it.

Finally for this post, last night’s images included some pictures of the Tribulation Range taken through the red, green and blue filters that allow people like me to construct colour pictures… and I did… enjoy…!

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One Response to A new Odyssey for Opportunity…

  1. Matt Lenda says:

    I’m digging the new picture at the top. Also, can’t wait to see how big those Odyssey rocks are.

    -m

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