Friday, October 06, 2006

Mars: The hip new place to see and be seen

I nearly fell off my chair when my friend on the HiRISE team told me he'd seen us at Victoria Crater. You have to go check out the amazing, new, color images of Victoria as taken by the MRO camera at the HiRISE web page. I snipped out a zoom of the image here, where you can see the little trapezoid that is the rover deck and solar panels, the shadow of the camera mast falling to the right of the rover, and - oh my gosh - Opportunity's *tracks* to her position now on the Cape Verde promontory. Below that, you can also see her tracks out of the lower valley, called Duck Bay. How cool is this?!?!

Here's a link to the MRO Press Release that tells you more about the image.

So this is approximately where Opportunity is now, and will be for the next couple of weeks. Right now, Mars is opposite the Earth in their orbits - For every year that it takes Earth to go around the sun, it takes Mars about two. So sometimes, like last spring and in 2004, Mars and Earth are near the same points in their orbits and close together on the same side of the sun. That's when you can see Mars brightly shining in the night sky (and when you get those email hoaxes that Mars looks the same size as the Moon). In the off years, Mars is on the other side of its orbit from us, and the sun is in between our line of sight, called "solar conjunction" because Mars and the Sun appear to be close in the sky. When this happens, we can't communicate with spacecraft there and everyone takes a two-week break. Last time, the rovers took two weeks off too, but this year, we're radiating 15-day plans to them to continue to do science on their own!


Anonymous said...


Hi there Barbara,

Came across your web-page last week when I was searching for cucumber
recipes for my wife, then realised that you'd probably have some good info
about the Rover photo and found it on your blog.

The story is on today's BBC web-site - it tops the list of "most mailed"
stories on the site.

Yup, it's seriously cool ("as a cucumber", as the expression this side of
the pond goes).


Chris Unsworth
(still at work in)
(the original English version)

Anonymous said...

Hi Barbara,
?!?!?! This is the most amazing thing that I have ever seen on the web!

Thank you for posting the pic with the zoom in on the rover. I read a story that said the rover was visible with the HiRISE camera, and was looking for the photo when I found your site.


The dude in the back said...


Great blog. Very interesting. Since you seem so accessible and your blog is likely to vault you to massive fame and notoriety has the “cute, brainy, science chick from the web”. I thought I would seize the ahh ...opportunity… to ask you a about the whole water on Mars thing before your schedule becomes unmanageable.

I followed the reports early on that there was some impressive evidence that Mars was once covered with water.

However I also seem to recall that a few months later there were some dissenting view points...

So, riddle me this science girl...

What is the deal?

WAS Mars a wet and wild world of acidic, sulfur laden Dihygrogen Monoxide? Are there suspected sights where drilling might reach liquid water?


is Mars just a dusty bin of chilly rocks?

I read that Steve guy’s report on it.. but .. well, I mean, to be honest. I am just not that smart. I thought maybe you could break it down to a simple yes, no, probably answer. Though you should feel free to elaborate as you see fit. Thanks in advance.