Looking back…

…over Opportunity’s shoulder, we can see her wheel tracks leading down the hillside… I love images like this, they really show that Opportunity is a ROVER, driving across the surface of Mars, exploring and making discoveries…

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Some more new images for you…

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Dunes on Mars…

While we wait for new images to come back from Opportunity, I thought I’d share this…

These “ripples” might look like wet sand on a beach, made as the tide ebbed in and out, but they are actually dunes of very fine dust on the surface of Mars. This is a crop from a mosaic of several different images taken by the Curiosity rover, which I’ve processed to really bring out the delicate patterns and shapes. So, instead of being sculpted by water, these dunes – which are actually very small, probably no higher than a few centimetres tall – were made as the gentle martian winds blew dust blown around, over and between the rocks… beautiful, don’t you think?

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Curiosity’s sweeping view…

Not going to wax lyrical about this, just click on the image below, to enlarge it, and then enjoy scrolling around them, taking in all the features… just beautiful…

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Towards The Valley…

It’s now 8 years and 4 months since I started this blog. If you’ve been with me from the start, thank you! If you’ve only just found us, thank you too! It’s been a real labour of love – very hard work at times, always challenging, sometimes a real struggle because of, you know, real life…

Don’t worry, I’m not building up to a “…and it’s time to say goodbye” announcement! Far from it. I just wanted to check the date because the images that came down today, that I’ve been working with for the past couple of hours, have reminded me just why I love the MER mission so much. The view Oppy is enjoying right now is nothing less than beautiful, and today some images came back which allowed me to make a new colour view.

Hands up: my software and processing skills haven’t allowed me to do these images justice, or make the stunning panorama others will make from them in the hours and days ahead. I am, as I keep saying, just a fan, not a scientist, so my version is quite “quick and crude”… but I don’t care, I’ve done my best, and I’m just happy to still be able to promote and support the mission after all this time.

Let’s start with a black and white view first, shall we?

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…and now, a colour view…

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Now, you can see right away that that’s not right… it’s just too blue, too lavendar-hued. With a bit (OK, a lot!)  more work I managed to turn that into this

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Wow… that’s something, isn’t it? I love that view. THAT’s “my Mars”, right there.

I’m often asked, when I give my outreach talks in village halls, community centres and schools, how I can still be so enthusiastic about Opportunity and what she does, how I can still be so passionate about the work she is doing on Mars, how I can still, after all these years, be so dedicated and loyal to the mission and the people behind it.

I can show you exactly how and why I remain all those things, using just one image I made earlier today…

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8 years and 4 months… and every day something new, and amazing, and magical from Mars.

Who knows what wonders tomorrow will bring? 🙂

 

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Perseverance Valley spotted..?

As Opportunity continues to work her way downhill the view ahead and below is really opening up, allowing us to see both further to the horizon and down the side of Endeavour Crater. In fact, I think… I think… we can now see Perseverance Valley – maybe… perhaps… possibly… ish… ?

We’ll come back to that. Let’s backtrack just a little and look at the view Opportunity ws enjoying a couple of days ago…

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…and here’s the very latest view. I made this mosaic panorama by stitching together images which were posted online overnight last night…

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Let’s concentrate on the left hand side of that image, where it’s most interesting…

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That’s a lovely view, isn’t it? The gentle, curving sweep of the Endeavour rim. the dust dunes on the terrain up ahead, the distance-dimmed far horizon, just lovely…

…but as I said, I think… perhaps.. and I’m not sure about this at all, I have to be honest… we might finally be able to see Perseverance Valley snaking down to the crater floor. Let’s look at an orbital view of this section of Endeavour’s rim, with some prominent features labelled…

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…now let’s try matching those with the view Opportunity has… I’m sure of A – C… an we see Perseverance Valley now, too?

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Hmmm… I don’t know, I really don’t… looking at that image right now after posting it I swing between “Yes, definitely, that’s it…” and “I don’t know…” and then “No, no way…” and back again. What do you think? I am still very sure that visually Perseverance Valley is not going to be that striking, as it doesn’t seem very deep, but I might be wrong about that too. We won’t really know that until Opportunity drives up to the rim and looks over the edge before starting down towards the ancient gully itself. For now it’s just fun to speculate, isn’t it?

To end this post, a colourisation showing Oppy’s wheel tracks…

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Perseverance Valley Beckons…

Apologies for the past week’s lack of posts (if anyone noticed, out there!), I’ve been away stargazing from the middle of a forest in the middle of the back of beyond of nowhere. Back now, and time to catch up…

Actually, there’s not a huge amount to catch up on. Opportunity is still slowly but surely making her way down towards “Perseverance Valley”, an ancient gully. Note, “PV” is very old hence the emphasis on “ancient”. It’s no longer wet or active, it’s basically just a ditch carved out of the rock by running water long, long ago. But Oppy isn’t going there because of what PV is now, she’s going there to study what it used to be and what happened in and around it.

We still can’t quite see PV yet, it remains just out of view over the edge of the slope, and to be honest I doubt the view will be all that dramatic when Opportunity eventually looks down upon the Valley, there’s not a lot of depth to this feature, but I might – and will hope to – be proved wrong. In the meantime, here are the latest views… Let’s start with the best – the wide angle view…

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Wow… that’s something, isn’t it? What a spectacular view… really, really hope we’re going to see that in colour soon…

What we can see in colour are smaller scale views like these…

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NASA is describing that as a “fresh impact crater”, on the Meridiani Plain close to where Opportunity is at the moment. Now, I collect meteorites, and as soon as I saw that I wanted to run across those rippled dust dunes and scoop up some of those dark rocky meteorite fragments scattered across the plain..!

Another colourised view for you all…

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I expect we’ll have some more images back from Opportunity very soon, so check back here to see how she’s getting on.

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Another day, another drive…

Opportunity continues to make progress towards the gully. Although we can’t see it – it’s just over the local horizon – it’s calling to Oppy now, as she steadily works her way down-slope. On the plain below we can now see several craters, ripples of wind-blown dark dust and lighter rocky outcrops, but as interesting as they are personally I’m looking forward to seeing what Opportunity sees when she looks back at the hills, that should be a great “Look where we’ve been…” view..

In the meantime, here are the latest views to come back from Opportunity.

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…and – just for fun – if you stretch that view vertically it really brings out the topographical relief on the terrain up ahead…

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Check on Oppy’s progress later.

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