1 April 2008
As promised, here is the latest from Opportunity.
The goal right now is to drive up to Cape Verde, a 20 foot tall cliff of layered rocks in Victoria Crater. Over the weekend, Opportunity backed up the slope of the crater and re-oriented for the upcoming drive toward the Cape. The following picture, which is a close-up of this fantastic HiRISE image of Victoria Crater, shows where Opportunity is right now.
After the drive, Pancam took a false color mosaic of Cape Verde which will be used to plan the drive, and also to look for interesting rocks to target once we get near the wall. The problem with this mosaic was that it was scheduled to be taken after the rover finished its drive up slope, so it was impossible to know exactly how tilted the camera would be. To account for the uncertainty, the mosaic was deliberately targeted to be too big, and the rover was instructed to send down just the “thumbnail” images at first. Here’s what the thumbnail mosaic looked like. (note that this is false color: the sky on Mars isn’t actually blue)
Once all of the thumbnails were on the ground today, I got to look at them and determine which ones should be thrown out, and what order the image frames should be sent back to Earth over the next week. As you can see, the entire top row of images is nothing but sky, so we will delete those. The plan is to drive toward the base of the cliff that is in the third image from the right in the bottom row, so that frame and the ones surrounding it will be set to come down sooner, while other frames in the mosaic will come down later.
The plan for the next two days is to drive toward Cape Verde on the first day, and then do a lot of imaging with the Navigation cameras on the second day. Meanwhile, the full resolution images for the mosaic shown above will begin coming down by the end of the week.
Stay tuned. Pancam will mostly be making atmospheric measurements for the next couple days, but I’ll see if I can post some of the Nav-Cam images as they come down.