Opportunity Update: Sols 1488-1489

Opportunity spent the last couple of days driving closer to Cape Verde, the richly layered cliff face in the side of Victoria crater that is her primary target. Here’s a map showing where we are now in relation to Cape Verde:

1207147335_31190-2_merb_traverse_sol1489.jpg

If you look closely, you’ll see that the rover actually drove for a while, and then backed up a bit. The rover driver do this so that they can see what the wheel marks look like and get a “feel” for how sandy or rocky the slope is. We really really don’t want to get stuck in a sand pile right now.

Pancam didn’t take any new pretty pictures of Cape Verde since we are still waiting to get the full-resolution frames down from the mosaic that was taken over the weekend. We bumped those frames to a higher priority today, so they should be coming down Friday or Monday.

The navigation cameras, however, took some nice photos of the rocks and scree at the base of Cape Verde at several times of day to get an idea of what the shadowing is going to be like. The shadowing is important when planning when to take science images because it can help to pick out fine details in the cliff face that would otherwise be hidden. It’s also important from a practical standpoint: It’s a bad idea to drive a solar-powered rover into the shadow of a tall cliff.

Here are a couple of the images that came down from the Nav-Cam. The first is a red-blue anaglyph, so if you have 3D glasses, put them on and take a look:

navcam_anaglyph_full.jpg

The second image was taken at very low sun angle and is almost artistic, with its long shadows and exaggerated, undulating foreground…

navcam_shadows_full.jpg

The plan for the next two days is pretty similar to what we just did: spend one sol driving and the following sol taking pictures. There is some color Pancam imaging in the plan, and the high-res frames from last weekend should start coming down. Right now, I think we’re looking at reaching Cape Verde late next week. Stay tuned!

Edit: Check out the sol 1490-1491 update!

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