Home > Science & Technology, Space, Things I Like... > Opportunity Rover & Victoria Crater, Mars

Opportunity Rover & Victoria Crater, Mars

February 17, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

I watched a programme on one of the science channels recently all about the Mars Rovers Programme.. and one aspect of it inspired me to write this post.

In June and July 2003, two separate rockets blasted off from Earth towards Mars: the first contained the Mars rover Spirit which landed on the surface of Mars in January 2004 and the second contained the rover Opportunity, which landed 3 weeks later on the other side of the planet.

These two small vehicles were originally programmed to carry out surface explorations over a 90 day period, with a goal for each rover to cover up to 40 meters in a single day, and a total mission target distance of up to one kilometer. The design and management of the onboard systems was so successful however that both vehicles have had their missions extended several times, with Opportunity unbelievably still operating today, some 7 years after it was supposed to have died, and having covered more than 26km. The last contact with Spirit was in March 2010, and it is presumed to have not survived the Martian Winter.

Apart from the scale and ambition of the project as a whole, the thing that really caught my imagination was this beautiful image of Victoria Crater taken by the HiRise camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) in October 2006. The colours within the picture and the clarity of the image are amazing.

Opportunity had visited the 750m wide impact crater as part of its extended mission the month before and the black and white image above clearly shows the tracks the rover left in the Martian Soil. What completey amazes me is that we can see these tracks so clearly. This is an actual photograph showing a man made object more than 70 million miles way from Earth…

And in this final image above you can actually see the Opportunity Rover itself, a small lonely grey dot showing up in contrast to the red soils of our nearest neighbouring planet.

To me these grainy and slightly blurred images are more impressive than the perfect CGI images and films that we all are so used to seeing, that depict  how a space craft  would look as it flies through our solar system or negotiates the surface of another planet.

I like the roughness, and the “realness” of these images, but if I even began to think about what technology it takes for me to be able to appreciate them more than 70 million miles away, I know I’ll start to feel faint.

  1. November 1, 2011 at 15:14

    Thanks for posting this blog. It’s so cool to see images like these and you are correct that seeing actual photos is better then an CG stuff.

    • November 11, 2011 at 12:57

      Howdy Shadoboxxer
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment..
      I’ve been to your onemanriot site and I very much like what I see.. excellent work indeed…
      Joe Blogs

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