Underdog at 297 Kilometres

When trying to think of my personal favourite underdogs, it seems that the poor robots I give so much coverage to on this blog are such underdogs that I plain forgot about them!

Take Cassini for example, consistently returning gorgeous images and interesting finds, but seemingly quite obscure as far as most people are concerned. Spirit and Opportunity are an even worse case. After exceeding their life expectancy by a factor of ten and overcoming calamities and faults, they're still going strong and getting very little press for it.

Imagine my surprise, then, to see an image clearly from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (henceforth referred to as 'MRO') on Channel 5 news late last night. Here it is, Victoria Crater from an altitude of 297km:

What's especially nice about this image is that if you download the full version from the NASA Planetary Photojournal (the image source) and look at the ten 'o' clock part of the crater, you should be able to make out a little rectangular blob with a spiky shadow - our pal, Opportunity. Actually, downloading one of the bigger pictures is recommended; whenever I look at the smaller images my eyes seem to get tricked into seeing the crater 'sticking out' rather than 'going in'. But if I look at this close-up of the south edge of the crater, for example, I can see that this is just an illusion caused by sunlit, crumbly rocks:

And here's a closer view of the little trooper herself:

Again, you'll want to download a larger version to get a better look, or you can take a gander at Doug Ellison's post over at the Planetary Society blog which has some nice close-ups and diagrams.

1 comment:

tinker said...

Looks a bit like burnt swiss cheese to me :)