Opportunity almost on top of the world…

Overnight some new images came back from Opportunity showing that although she hadn’t trundled over it and onto higher, flatter ground, she had rolled right up to the top edge of the steep slope she has been edging up for what seems like an age now. And from her new vantage point not only can she see the mouth of Marathon Valley, which she dropped down into all those months ago, but can also see… finally… the beautiful faraway horizon…

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Oh, it is SO good to see that horizon again! The Valleys have been fascinating places to explore, undoubtedly, and have given the team some great science and given all of us some wonderful views too. But for months now Oppy has been a bit, well, hemmed in, with rocky walls on both sides as she zig-zagged her way down and then up out of Marathon Valley, and the scenery has been getting a bit, well… samey.

Since heading up from the crater floor, Opportunity has been a bit like a hill-walker who has been huffing and puffing her way up a hillside, eyes fixed on the route ahead, and the summit even further ahead. Now she has reached the final gate standing between her and the top of the hill and, understandably, has stopped to catch her breath and take a quick look around before pushing on the last few metres to the top.

And now Opportunity is almost back on the top of Cape Tribulation she can see, as The Who famously sang, for miles and miles and miles and miles and miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiles…

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The stunning image above is the work of image processing expert James Sorenson whose processing skills make me look like a kid playing about on an old ZX Spectrum. James specialises in stitching multiple images together to make beautiful panoramic views. He then adds a realistic sky to finish off the effect, and his work is amazing as you can see.

What I really love about the images that came down overnight is how they show the entrance to Marathon Valley off to Opportunity’s right. It’s quite exciting, I think, to be able to look back and see the feature Opportunity drove down into, all those months ago, from a different viewpoint. On the two pane collage below you can see Marathon Valley as it appeared to Oppy before she drove down into it way back on Sol 4078, in July 2015…

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That image on the left is a black and white crop from one of my own favourite images, shown below – a multi-frame colourised mosaic I made more than two years ago…

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Hopefully the next batch of images sent back by Opportunity will show she has finally rolled up out of the valley conpletely…

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