A very special rock…

As you can imagine, I check the internet for new images from Opportunity every day – ok, a couple of times a day… ok, every few hours… and the other day a picture appeared on the fantastic “Midnight Planets” site (which you absolutely should bookmark if you want to be able to look at the latest images from both Opportunity AND Curiosity) which caught my eye…

stone

Look at that… a big boulder just sitting there on the slope of the hill, like a martian standing stone… I hoped Opportunity would take more pictures of it, and get a little closer, and that’s just what she’s done. We now have this view of the rock…

x2

Isn’t that fascinating? A big, dark stone just sitting there, with what looks like a piece of it split off and lying next to it. Of course, it’s totally natural, there are gabillions of rocks like it all over Mars, but I’m counting down the days until some conspiracy theory loving, “martian anomaly” hunting nutter sees that picture and declares he or she has found a statue on Mars, or a severed robot head, or something equally ridiculous. Think *I’m* being ridiculous. Well, they’ve already “spotted” and” discovered” gorillas, rabbits, Bigfoot, dinosaur skulls and alien technology on Mars, so it will happen, you can guarantee it. Just to get in there first, let me just slide this across the table to them…

rock

Is that clear? Great. Moving on…

So, it turns out that this rock isn’t just any old rock – not to the MER team, anyway. Because they have given this particular rock a very important name, one we should have seen coming really…

“Marathon Monument”.

Oh, I love that. They’ve named that rock in honour of Opportunity completing her first martian marathon. 🙂

As detailed on this blog recently, Opportunity has just passed the 42km mark on her long, long trek across Mars, meaning she has essentially “run a marathon” on the red planet. So it’s very fitting that the MER team have chosen to celebrate that amazing achievement by giving this big, striking rock a name which will honour Opportunity’s Marathon for decades of not centuries to come.

Marathon Monument

Just think… in the years to come, when there are people on Mars, when Opportunity and Spirit have been picked up, dusted off and placed carefully in the Museum of Mars (and full size, diamond-coated replicas have been left in their final resting places out on the surface of Mars) to be gazed upon by tourists from Earth and native martian schoolkids, that rock will bear a plaque celebrating the end of Opportunity’s historic marathon, and rover fans from across the solar system, following the famous “Opportunity Trail” from faraway Eagle Crater to Cape Tribulation and beyond, will have their photos taken beside it…

Wish I could be with them.

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