Different views…

Things are still rather quiet for rover-watchers, as the flood of data that was being returned from Mars remains a trickle, thanks to problems with the Mars Odyssey probe, which orbits Mars and acts as a relay for Opportunity. When those problems are sorted out – hopefully before Curiosity’s landing on August 6th – I’m sure normal service will be resumed, and then we’ll all have a grand old catch up session. Until then, we’ll just have to make do with what there is.

And come on, let’s face it, being able to enjoy even a handful of “new” pictures from Mars every few days is a whole lot better than nothing! Images from Mars! Here! On your computer! For free! Isn’t that amazing! We tend to forget how remarkable this is, sometimes; we’ve grown spoiled by the relentless flow of data, don’t you think?

Maybe we need breaks in the data flow occasionally to remind us how lucky we are…

Anyway, Oppy has sent back a handful of new images, and I’ve stitched them together to make a mosaic panorama showing her view roughly northish, to the now very close ‘beach’ of Cape York and the hills marking the northern rim of Endeavour Crater far, far beyond…

…and a quick 3D view of part of that scene, showing rocks just off the edge of the Cape…

Now. I was looking at these images the other day, just taking in the view as you do, and it struck me how different this part of Mars is to any other we’ve seen on previous missions to Mars. So flat, with gypsum veins protruding from the ground, and high hills, even mountains I think we can claim them to be perhaps, on the horizon. That’s different to Phoenix’s view – that almost razor-sharp horizon, devoid of any hills, with rocks scattered here and there – and very different to the view the twin Viking probes had back in the late 1970s. They landed in areas strewn with rubble, so many rocks, boulders and stones were scattered around them it was as if they had landed in the debris of an ancient martian cathedral which had been blown to pieces in some Barsoomian war, millennia ago. I was so struick by this difference that I went into the PDS data archives and did a bit of colourising work on the calibrated Viking images there. So, here, for a fun – but very interesting, I think – comparison with Oppy’s surroundings, are a couple of views from Viking 1, which landed in Chryse Planitia just short of 36 years ago…

Ahhhh, memories…! 🙂

Check back soon for more news and pictures…

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