Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Day Trip to Mars: Opportunity Still Knocks

The joint's still jumping at Endeavor Crater - Sept. 6, 2012
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

Outcropping at Endeavor... What's this - petroglyphs? ;-)
November, 2012 - NASA/JPL-Caltech/ Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

Those of you familiar with Mac and Post-Mac Blues might be wondering why I haven't made much of the Mars mission this year... specifically the presence of Curiosity at Gale Crater. The sad fact is, I just haven't been all that impressed with the data these days.* While Curiosity might be a mechanical marvel, it apparently doesn't have a "pancam," and/or pancam shots are just not available to the public. Then again, Gale Crater doesn't much look like prime real estate judging by its raw images.... a fairly featureless terrain not even worth setting up camp in. So, if there's loads to see in Gale Crater, I don't think the public has been invited, yet. Meanwhile, here's a toy to play with. I've yet to install it, but, if you do, let me know what I'm missing.

In any case, Gale Crater certainly hasn't offered up anything comparable to the Spirit rover's stomping ground, Gusev Crater, a veritable treasure trove; nor even Endeavor Crater where Opportunity still roams. Yes, our trusty Spirit passed away - or, at least, fell into a coma - in March, 2010, but Opportunity continues to give us glimmers of the Mars we all want to go to. (Spirit and Opportunity even have a Twitter page.) So, while I have nothing interesting to show you from Gale Crater, here's 2 pancam shots via the Opportunity rover taken quite recently, plus one from 2004... to remind us of the wonder that is Mars, and the planet that continues to haunt us. (click on images for larger views)

Opportunity image circa 2004 - JPL/Caltech


*11/20/12 - This just in, via the NPR article: Big News From Mars? Rover Scientists Mum For Now. (Radio broadcast below)

I don't know how riveting my jaded imagination will interpret this potential "news", and I suspect that Rover scientists are "mum" more often than not, but, in lieu of any photographic thrills and chills, I'll take what I can get! (Hat-tip to G.T. at the Daily Grail.)

11/23/12 Update: Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, proposes plans for a settlement on Mars. And, for a mere $500,000, you too, can climb aboard. But, hey, wait a minute, what if Mars One gets there first?

Previous Mars posts on Post-Mac Blues

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