Tenth anniversary approaches…

…and we’re back!

I know it’s been a long time ( a LONG time!) since this blog was updated properly – I’ve had a few people email me about that, and leave comments here too – and I’m sorry about that. I absolutely had not “given up” on Oppy, or her incredible mission, but as my WAITING FORM ISON blog – about Comet ISON, but you probably guessed that! – grew in both size and popularity (it became so popular that as Comet ISON rounded the Sun it recorded its 1 MILLIONTH view!!!!! and was being visited tens of thousands of times each day!) I found that I just didn’t have time to write two blogs properly at the same time, that’s all. I had thought I would be able to, but I was wrong. So I had to pause in writing this blog, just for a while, until ISON had played out its grand performance. Now ISON is gone, and I can get back to this blog, as I’ve wanted to for a long time.

And now is a good time to do that, of course, because next month Oppy will mark the tenth anniversary of her landing on the Red Planet. I know, incredible isn’t it? Our brave little rover has been on Barsoom for a decade. And you all know the facts and figures by now, you all know the cliches. It was hoped she would last for 90 days on the surface before succumbing to the robot-hating environment, but she’s survived for ten years. It was hoped she would drive a kilometre across the surface. and she has now driven almost 40. Just think about that for a moment… think about how far she has come…

When she landed in January 2004, none of us dared to hope she would get this far. After she landed, Oppy worked her way south to a big crater, Victoria. Much further away a far larger crater, Endeavour, was a tantalising target, but getting there one day? Naah. Forget it. That was impossible.


NOTE: many thanks, as usual, to Eduardo Tesheiner for his fantastic kmz route file for Google Earth.

But of course we now know that Oppy doesn’t know the meaning of the word, and she left Victoria, steamed on south, and eventually made landfall at Cape York, one of the small “islands” of rock forming the eroded, ancient rim of Endeavour crater. She trundled around Cape York for months, then headed south again, to the strangely-named “Knobby’s Head”…


…before eventually leaving that rocky island and setting sail across the great martian dust sea once again, eventually making landfall at Solander Point earlier this year…


The trek of the Mars Exploration Rover OPPORTUNITY across the rugged, rock-strewn surface of Mars is one of history’s greatest tales of exploration and adventure, and in years, decades and centuries to come will be celebrated just as we today celebrate the epic voyages of Columbus, Magellan and Cook. I have no doubt at all that in the far, far future, when Oppy is sitting in a martian museum, as ancient a relic to our descendants as stone axe heads and cave paintings are to us in our century, and Mankind has reached other stars and settled on their planets, children will sit in classes in schools on those faraway alien worlds and learn from their teachers about the journeys of Opportunity and her sister Spirit, and be as amazed by them as we all are today.

But for today, Opportunity is still moving, still roving, and climbing up the gentle slopes and ridges of Cape Tribulation on her way to the higher ground where scientists hope clay-rich mineral deposits await her suite of scientific instruments.


Oppy is now seeing very rugged scenery. Small dust dunes cover the ground up ahead, and there are outcrops of boulder-covered rock around her. Here’s a panorama I made earlier today from some of the latest images sent back by Oppy… you’ll need to click on it to enlarge it and see it properly…


And I know many of you like 3D views, so here are a couple for you to explore. Glasses on, everyone…!



…and next? More climbing. Oppy is working her way steadily up this slope, like a hiker, slow, patient, taking in the scenery around her while keeping her eyes on the horizon up ahead, wondering what lays beyond it…

So, there we are. Oppy is still going strong, and now Comet ISON has gone I can give more attention to her! I never abandoned her, I checked in on her every day, kept walking beside her in my mind and heart, I just didn’t have time to write about her. But we’re back now, and I hope you’ll follow Oppy’s journey here as her big anniversary approaches.

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4 Responses to Tenth anniversary approaches…

  1. gary hawes says:

    Great news 10 years approaches and your blog will do her proud , i am sure .will look with anticipation, thanks .

  2. Ted says:

    Glad you are FINALLY back my friend. Keep it going!

  3. Tony Archer says:

    It’s great having your blog again, one of the more interesting readings one can find on the internet. Keep it going as long as possible please.

  4. Craig Johnson says:

    If only you really WERE back. The 27th December is quite a long time ago and I am increasingly looking to other sites for information on poor neglected Oppy.

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