4 April 2008

Opportunity Update: Sols 1490-1491

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Day by day, we’re getting closer to Cape Verde!

On sol 1490, Opportunity did a little bit of driving, but the rover tilted a bit too much, which caused it to stop for safety reasons. Don’t worry, Opportunity is fine, but the rover drivers are being cautious, so the drive was cut short. We got down some cool pictures though! Some of the high-resolution frames of Cape Verde came down, and are shown here. These images will be used to plan where to drive to avoid big rocks and to get into position to approach the cliff.  With luck, we may even be able to reach out and touch the cliff with the rover’s arm, and use the whole suite of scientific instruments!

We also got pair of more recent “drive direction” images. The rovers have two “eyes” just like a human, and the images from each eye can be combined to create a view in much the same way that your brain uses information from each eye to give you depth perception. So, get out your 3D glasses and take a look:

Mars rovers are slow. Really, really slow. In these pictures the cliff doesn’t look that far away; if you were there, you could walk over and check it out in a minute. It can be frustrating to head toward an exciting and spectacular place like Cape Verde, only to find that what would take a person seconds, takes a rover weeks. But, of course, the rovers are still alive because we are very careful with them. If it takes an extra week to get there safely, that’s infinitely better than rushing and getting into trouble.

Opportunity is going to be driving every day next week. I am only on downlink duty on Monday, but I’ll keep an eye out, and if spectacular images come down later in the week, I’ll share them too. Stay tuned!