Oppy getting ready to roll…

Look at this… look at THIS…

 

See those two magic words? “Drive direction”!!! Oppy is getting ready to roll…!! πŸ™‚

About time too! She’s been parked on Greeley Haven for, oh, what, a hundred years? No, not really, it just feels that long. But the MER team are now planning her move off the ridge, choosing a direction and destination, and soon, maybe within weeks – or dare we hope, days? – Oppy will drive down off her winter car park ridge and Go Somewhere Else! Somewhere New!

But where? Well, I stitched together those “drive direction” images taken by Oppy and made them into one single one, so this is the rough direction Opportunity will be heading in soon…

Now, as pretty as that is, it doesn’t tell us an awful lot about what lies ahead of Oppy, I know, so let’s identify some possible points of interest…

So… up ahead we have some rocks and boulders… hmm, that’ll make a nice change… πŸ™‚ …and beyond those, we hope some bigger gypsum veins, and also some more outcrops. But how far away are these things? Well…

Ok, having taken a good close look at where we are, and what’s up ahead, and how far away the interesting stuff is, what are the actual PLANS?

All you want to know, and much, much more, can be found in the latest MER Update by science journalist AJS Rayl, over on the Planetary Society’s newly redesigned website. Here’s a link to AJS’s latest info-crammed Update…

http://www.planetary.org/blogs/guest-blogs/a-j-s-rayl/mer-update-2012-04.html

Now, obviously you’re not going to go there right *now* because you’re reading my blog (thank you!) but when you do, you’ll find comments from John Callas, MER Manager, which explain exactly what’s going to happen next…

“We’re eager to get going again and so as soon as the surface science is finished and energy allows, we will get roving,” assured Callas. “Next month, I should be able to tell you when we’re moving – if we haven’t moved already.”

Once Opportunity does pull out of Greeley Haven, the plan right now calls for the rover to drive back to the Bench*. “We will go back to the Bench on a search for a wider [gypsum] vein that will completely fill the APXS field of view and that we would be able to RAT,” said Arvidson. “We want to remove any surface coatings and get down to the pure material. That’s an important priority.”

* “Bench”? Where’s that? WHAT’S that? The Bench is the flat, broad area around the higher ground of Cape York… I always think of it as Cape York’s “moat”… this…

Ah… it becomes clearer… After leaving Greeley Haven, Oppy is going to drive forwards(ish), downhill towards the Bench, look for some larger versions of “Homestake” there, and do some very serious science on them. This is my back-of-envelope absolute-guess-place-no-importance-upon-it idea of one possible route Oppy might follow after leaving Greeley Haven, based on the proximity of points of interest such as rocks, outcrops, etc…

Then what? Well, my pic above shows how AJS Rayl’s update goes on to describe how Oppy will then carry on down the east-side of Cape York, heading south again, ultimately aiming to drive off Cape York and head south the Tribulation Range (my name, it’s not catching on, I don’t care!), taking in Solander Point and Botany Bay along the way…

…and don’t forget that at some point during all this roving and exploring, the next rover, Curiosity, will be landing in Gale Crater! Exciting times ahead dear readers! πŸ™‚

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