Monday, 16 February 2009

Opportunities



Two weeks ago, Iran had launched its first satellite into orbit. It is hoped (and Iranian officials are not getting tired to emphasize) that Hope (the name of the satellite, omid in Farsi) will increase our knowledge and eventually lead to more harmony and peace on Earth.

Its inhabitants do well (especially when considering the most recent underestimations of what is called global warming) when taking a search for alternative places to live into serious consideration. One extraordinary and most beautiful area (although barren and yet icy cold) might be the Victoria Crater on Mars, an impact crater at the Meridiani Planum near the equator of the planet. The crater is about 800 meters in diameter and had been visiting by Mars roboter Exploration Rover Opportunity. That little sojourner of our second nearest neighbor in space can actually be seen on the image TRA_000873_180 which was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft on October 3, 2006. After 2 ½ years, Opportunity (the robot) had just arrived at the rim of the Victoria crater after a drive of more than 9 kilometers. Provided high resolution, it can be seen roughly at the “10 o’clock” position along the rim of the crater. Whether it has crashed into the crater in the meantime is not known to me.

Crater Victoria has a distinctive scalloped shape of its rim. Erosion and material having fallen down the crater walls can be seen on the picture. The very special sand dunes in the center of the crater remind of similar structures in the Rub’ Al Khali of the Arabian Peninsula or the Dashte Lut in Iran.

Thanks to John Baez for attracting my attention to the beautiful crater.

First published at Freelance

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