THERE she is…!!

No, no… don’t get your hopes up. We haven’t heard from Opportunity. We haven’t heard a peep, bleep, churp or burp from her for 109 days, since she fell silent on June 10th. The MER team is still pinging her and listening for a reply, but so far nothing.

So why the “THERE she is!!” title of this post?

Because the HiRISE camera onboard the MRO probe orbiting Mars has taken a new image of the rim of Endeavour Crater, and it shows Opportunity perched halfway down Perseverance Valley – right where she was when we last heard from her.

I was delighted to see this image yesterday, and to get to work on processing it too. Niot just because a new HiRISE image of Opportunity was long, long overdue – the last one was taken on Valentine’s Day 2014 I think – but because it was just lovely to see Opportunity again. Of course, there was no risk she wouldn’t be there – it’s not as if the dust storm would have blown her over, like Matt Damon in The Martian, and the likelyhood of her being carried away by Jawas for sale to some moisture farmers down in Hellas is rather small – but just seeing her again was reassuring. Hopefully it will raise interest in Opportunity again amongst the high profile reporters, journalists and commentators who cover space stories on social media; it seems to have flagged after the recent Twitter storm, their attention has moved onto other stories.

Anyway, here’s a link to the HiRISE image release from yesterday

And here’s one of the images released, with Opportunity’s position highlighted…

PIA22549_fig1

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona 

Can you see her there? That little dot within the valley – that’s Opportunity. She’s been on Mars since January 2004, and now she’s facing her greatest challenge yet. But there she is.

When I saw that image yesterday my first thought – with a lump in my throat – was: Come on, Little One, wake up and talk to us…

My second thought was: let me at those images

For quite a few years now I’ve used a NASA program – a free download – called HiView to zoom in on the highest resolution HiRISE images, so I fired that up and imported the HiRISE images into it so I could first isolate Opportunity, make her look more obvious against the landscape, and then add a bit oif “martian colour” to the scene. Here’s what I was able to do…

All images credit: Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona /additional processing Stuart Atkinson

7c

oppy 1

And here’s my best effort so far…

oppy 1f

Let’s take a closer look…

oppy 1f b2

I really hope that image isn’t showing a dead rover. I really hope that’s a portrait of a sleeping rover, a rover that is going to wake up soon, phone home, and soon after be on her way again.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see…

That’s it for this update, but I’d like to just take a moment to thank all of you who take the time and trouble to read this blog – regularly or just now and again – and look at my images. I’ve been writing this blog for almost a decade now, much longer than I expected to! It’s a labour of love. I don’t write it to get retweets on Twitter or Likes or Shares on Facebook; I write it because I am a fan and supporter of the mission, and because I want to share my enthusiasm for, and love of, Opportunity’s adventures and discoveries during her epic trek across Mars with others. This blog isn’t popular or well-known “out there”. Even though “RtE” is now one of the longest-running MER-related blogs going, with the notable exception of AJS Rayl, who has supported my efforts for years, those high profile reporters and social media commentators pay it no attention at all, never Retweet or Share the things I write or the images I post here. (I think it’s not serious or technical enough for them…!) That’s ok, I don’t write it for them; I write it for myself and for you, and so that, in years to come, people who weren’t around when Opportunity was rolling around Mars – climbing hills, exploring craters and crossing deserts – will know how much she meant to at least some of us, and get a sense of the amazing things she and her team achieved. Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who do read these posts. I appreciate it. 🙂

 

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