Mars calling Earth… Mars calling Earth…

Images have started to come back from Opportunity (and Curiosity) again, so it seems that the latest “solar conjunction” is over and the phone lines between Earth and Mars are open again. For the past couple of weeks the Sun has been between the two planets, making communication between them very difficult, so there has been very little to report or show here. But now the websites which post the images returned from Mars are displaying lots of new pictures, so it seems all is well, and surely it won’t be long now until Oppy is rolling down Perseverance Valley.

I’m busy playing catch-up now, downloading new images and processing them. Here are my latest images which  hope you’ll enjoy…

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I really am pleased with that last image. I’ve removed some of the distortion of the view, rotated it a little to flatten the horizon and show that Opportunity is on a slope, and added some colour to make it a little more martian, but PLEASE note I’m not suggesting for a moment that it’s supposed to be real colour; it’s more of an “artistic take” on the raw image Opportunity sent back.

Check back soon for more news and images from Opportunity. 🙂

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Time to rest…

Opportunity is spending solar conjunction having a well-deserved rest from roving, and is spending her time just looking around and taking in the view from the top of Perseverance Valley. So, not much to report but a few new pictures to share with you, in no particular order…

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Taking it easy…

Opportunity isn’t going anywhere for a while, not with solar conjunction just around the corner, so she’s taking it easy, just hanging out on Mars, as you do, taking lots of photos, as you would…

Quick catch-up of the most recent pictures I’ve created from the raw images sent back by Oppy…

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While I was making that second image there I was struck by the difference in scale between images sent back by two different space missions on the same day. As Oppy was sending back those images of tiny pieces of grit and stone on the surface of Mars, as seen through its microscope camera, the JUNO mission was sending back its long-awaited images of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, a storm which is bigger than our whole planet…

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As I’ve said many times, one of the great things about being “into” space and this stuff is that it gives you perspective…

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Welcome to Perseverance Valley…

So. Here we are.

Having landed in Eagle Crater in January 2004, in a cosmic “hole in one”… having then driven to and into the beautiful Victoria Crater… having then trekked across the vast dune sea of Meridiani Planum, passing many ancient meteorites along the way… having then triumphantly rolled up onto Cape York and then climbed the rim of Endeavour Crater, Opportunity is now starting a new adventure and beginning to explore Perseverance Valley, an ancient gully-like feature which meanders down the inner slope of Endeavour Crater.

When I got up and went online this morning at ridiculous o’clock as usual I was delighted to see new images had come down from Opportunity overnight, and I was able to stitch them together into an image that shows (I think) our first really clear view of Perseverance Valley. Opportunity is gazing downslope towards the crater floor far below, so, taking in the view during “solar conjunction” before moving on in early August.

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This second image is the first one stretched vertically to bring out the structure of the valley…

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You can see from the images that this is not a *gorge*. The sides of the gully are not really very steep, so when Opportunity gets down there it won’t be like she’s working her way down a toboggan run! I don’t think the topography of the valley is going to be very dramatic in terms of vertical relief. I think the beauty is going to be in the curves of the feature, following its “flow” as it meanders down to the crater floor.

Looking forward to getting going, but can’t begrudge Opportunity a rest. 🙂

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Mars goes to sleep…

Well, not literally. I don’t mean the planet itself is going to nod off – but the rovers trundling around on it are certainly about to grab a coffee, put their feet up and take it easy for a while. Why? This NASA webpage explains

In the meantime, Opportunity has, as I reported in the most recent post, entered Perseverance Valley and started exploring it. And like any self-respecting tourist and sight-seer she has taken a “selfie”. Here’s a colourisation I made from a raw black and white image Oppy sent back yesterday…

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Looking at the bigger picture, it’s very pleasing to report that a couple of the craters close to the entrance to Perseverance Valley have been named after the spacecraft which took astronauts to the Moon on the Apollo 16 mission…

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More soon!

 

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Here’s a good parking spot…

I hope you like this view…

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…because it’s not going to change for the next few weeks. Opportunity has now parked up for a while so we’ll be seeing a lot of similar-looking images during that time. But that;s okay, it’ll allow the mission team to take a really good look around before heading further down into the valley.

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Opportunity Enters Perseverance Valley

After carrying out a detailed “walkabout” study of the terrain at the entrance to Perseverance Valley during the past few weeks, it seems that Opportunity has finally trundled over the edge and started to drive down into the valley. We know this because the rear cameras show this view…

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…and her forward cameras show this view… *downhill*… 🙂

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And if you look closely at that last image you’ll see what appears to be a small crater just up ahead. Looking for that crater on an image of PV (as I’m going to call it from now, I think, to save typing time) allows us to work out really well just where Oppy has got to. And she’s here…

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Here’s a closer and rather more detailed view of that crater… this is a processed, stitched together  mosaic of two separate images sent back by Oppy…

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Haven’t found any reference to a name yet, but I’m sure it will be christened in due course. And we’ll get a closer look at the crater after the next drive, I imagine.

Today was a very appropriate day for Opportunity to roll into Perseverance Valley, because it’s a big anniversary day for our brave girl: on this very day in 2003, Opportunity was launched towards Mars…

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Photo credit: Boeing

Obviously you can’t see it on that image, but at the very top of that Delta rocket, coccooned inside her protective shell and folded up like an origami model,  was Opportunity. Here’s a NASA/JPL photo of how she looked as she was being prepared for being mounted on the rocket…

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Six months later Opportunity landed on Mars and began her great adventure. That adventure continues today, as Opportunity starts to descend the steep slope at the top of Perseverance Valley.  Up ahead of her – who knows? But every time Opportunity has gone somewhere new – and there have been a LOT of “somewhere news” since she landed – she has found something amazing. I’m certain Perseverance valley will be no different.

Bring It On!

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