A moment to think…

Oppy isn’t moving at the moment, she’s busy studying that bright rocky outcrop with her scientific instruments, so things have really slowed down. But that’s okay, because today is – I’ve just realised – quite a special day for we rover-huggers, because it’s an anniversary of sorts.

Three years ago today, on Sol 1661 of Oppy’s mission (i.e. her 1661st day on Mars since her landing), Oppy took a break from her “tourist trek” around the edge of the (we thought then!) mighty Victoria Crater to stop by a small craterlet called “Sputnik”, photograph it, and just take in the view. She took a trio of images of Sputnik which, when stitched together, look like this…

That’s a gorgeous view, isn’t it? The many capes and cliffs of Victoria stretching away on all sides… the crater’s crumbling cliffs… the far, flat horzon, all dwarfed by that huge, huge sky…

Well, not a completely flat horizon. Look closely – by clicking on that image to enlarge it – and you’ll see that there are some small, dark, lumps and bumps on it. When we saw those at the time we were all fascinated by them: those were the hills marking the rim of a truly enormous crater called “Endeavour”, which was an incredible 33km away. 33km! So far away that it was obviously beyoned reach, because 33km was so far, so ridiculously far, that even thinking of trying to drive to it – for years, across a vast, unforgiving, rover-hating desert – was foolish…

Three years later, Oppy is enjoying this view…

Oppy will never reach the hills she saw on her horizon on that day back in 2008 – they’re on the farside of Endeavour, another multi-year drive away – but now theyre not just bumps they’re mountains. And Oppy is now, essentially, inside Endeavour crater. Against all the odds, beating everything Mars threw at her, surviving Sun-smothering dust storms, mechanical faults and software glitches, Oppy reached and then rolled up onto Cape York where we hope she will, in the days, weeks and months to come, revolutionise our view of Mars. Again.

So next time something seems impossible, look at those two pictures. It’s only impossible if you don’t try.

Oppy would tell you that. šŸ™‚

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