Wednesday, December 14, 2011

100 Sols on Cape York — An Absurdly Brief (Read: Long) Summary (Part 2/8)

Part 2: Landfall at Endeavour Crater — Cape York and Odyssey

~2680 to ~2690
"tl;dr" Description 
We made it! We made it! We made it! Ohhhh look at the pretty!
Highlights from Matt's Notebook
Sols 2683-2684: 
> "This plan is skinny by design." - Ray — interesting, since we're at Odyssey. LIKE, COME ON.
Holy crap we're here!
> "This is somewhere." — Posted a picture next to my cubicle. Nobody noticed except for my boss, who is, you know, supposed to care.

Details ("the deets")
Suddenly… arrival, Monday August 8, planning sol 2681 (-ish, depending on what one considers "there" to be). We hit the southern tip of Cape York and parked next to Odyssey crater, which was a landmark close to the non-specific "Spirit Point" locale that identified our arrival:

"But, Matt, Spirit Point isn't a point." Don't care.

"Hey, isn't that your blog's background?" Perhaps, but the demon in me says it's Photoshopped.

Of course, that second image confused everyone in the wide world outside of the MER enthusiast: With headlines like "Opportunity Arrives At Giant Endeavour Crater," you might expect the panorama that actually showed as much of Endeavour as possible, but instead most folks passed around that image of Odyssey, which is in the 10-15 meter diameter range, and said, "That's not that big. I'm already bored."

We had to throw on the brakes, hard. Suddenly, drives were precisely targeted and the entire mission changed. At least, it did from my perspective — the only Oppy I ever knew was the one that silently trekked hundreds of meters across the Meridiani at a time. A little poke at a rock here, a little imaging of a shallow crater there, nothing much. Then it was wham, we're back in this science collection gear that I'd never seen before. We weren't driving just to drive, or IDD'ing just to IDD, but we were doing those things to do other things

(And, honestly, it made the science team's role that much more apparent to me. It's an obvious thing — you know, we're there to do science in the first place, Matt — but I don't get obvious things very well. In the Meridiani, I looked at them as if they were the last remains of the mission that used to be; now, they were front and center. They owned the mission.)

The Odyssey Crater was the first thing that captured our attention:

What, you don't have your red-blue glasses? What is this, amateur hour?

And, to the east, towards the inboard side of Cape York and Endeavour itself, a nice ejecta field from Odyssey's creation:

Stu's black-framed images make me look classy, don't they?

The goodies — those smectites and phyllosilicates — were located somewhere in the middle of Cape York, or north of our "entry" point on to Endeavour. At least, according to orbital imagery and remote sensing. We shirked the direct path to these targets mainly for several reasons:

1) Cape York dips down into Endeavour on the inboard side and instead of poking our head over the proverbial edge didn't seem to be a very prudent way of attacking Cape York as a whole.
2) The true traversability of Cape York, especially on its inboard side towards the center of Endeavour, was unknown until we had some imagery from the rover itself. Our RPs took a look at Cape York and identified two paths: one that would have approached from just north and west of Odyssey, and the one that we took, from the south side and working northward to capture as much of Cape York as possible.

I've illustrated these paths on this perspective Google Mars shot of Cape York that I stole from Stu near sol 2680:

Conveniently, "A" stands for "actual" and "B" stands for "backup". I will pretend I knew this before I made the annotations to the image, and you will faithfully affirm this delusion for me.

Remember, these were notional only, meaning this was a strategic plan. As we'll find later, Path A actual curved back north much sooner than indicated here. In any case, the immediate advantages to path "A" were that nice ejecta field from Odyssey for analyzing and poking and sniffing. Odyssey not only had its own story, it also exposed the internal bits of Cape York itself. Another Google Mars shot from Stu's blog gives us an idea of where we stood:

Right in our gunsights was Tisdale-2. On approach just a few meters to the southwest of Odyssey (and its large, perched rock, Ridout), here was our view this aircraft-carrier-looking beauty:

If you still don't have your red-and-blues, don't come back until you do.

But, wait, Tisdale-2 was a whole new treat, a whole new taste, the start of this new mission. So, just as this "phase" of the Endeavour Campaign was short — roughly 10 sols by my arbitrary estimate — so will this part of the story be!