What does a Mars Rover do for the Thanksgiving holiday? While one rover will be sitting on the launchpad, preparing to head to the Red Planet (MSL/ Curiosity) the Opportunity rover has now trekked to an enticing outcrop near the summit of Cape York on the rim of Endeavour Crater. This summit or ridge has been named “Turkey Haven” by the MER science team, as this is where Oppy will conduct scientific studies over the four-day-long US holiday. The image above was taken a few days ago, showing the Turkey Haven ridge. Our pal Stu Atkinson has provided a beautiful color rendering, and you can see all the rocks that the rover will be looking at more closely with its suite of instruments and cameras. You can see more images of this area, including 3-D versions on Stu’s site, Road to Endeavour.
Oppy is now sitting among these rocks studying the outcrop region seen on the left.
And there’s other enticing regions ahead to study as well.
A dagger-shaped gorge or geological fault, as seen from above by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter may well be a future destination, but likely after Oppy finds another haven – a winter haven – a good place and location for soaking up as much sunshine as possible for the upcoming long winter on Mars.
But behind Oppy was a most intriguing light-colored rock outcropping – this one was named “Homestake.” The rover spent several days studying the rock – even doing what could be termed a cruel drive-by (or driver-over). You can see in this image below, how Oppy really created havoc and a mess with her studies of this region:
…leading Stu Atkinson to create this:
But seriously, many Mars rover fans are anxiously waiting to hear from the science team about what they found during Oppy’s close-up studies of this unusual rock outcropping.
Opportunity’s odometer reading is now over 21.33 miles (34,328.09 meters, or 34.33 kilometers).
Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today’s Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT’s Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.