Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Mr. Squyres update on MER Spirit mission:

'At Gusev, we're really moving... and it feels very good! Our journey to the south side of Husband Hill is well under way now. We've been spiraling up and around the west side of the hill, heading generally south and gaining elevation as we go. I've been surprised, as I think the whole team has, at how well this part of the climb has gone so far. Other parts of Husband Hill have been very tough going, but for some reason we're moving over this part of the hill very well. We've knocked off several drives of 20+ meters lately, which is really good for this kind of terrain, and there was one drive where we gained about three meters in elevation. Our drive paths have been nearly straight south lately, but now we're starting to curl around toward the east, more in the direction of the summit. So now there are two big questions: Are we really going to go for the summit? And what will we see once we get our first good view to the south? I really don't know about the summit. We all want it, of course... who wouldn't? We're doing the first mountaineering on another planet, and it would be a little frustrating fto get this close and not make it to the top. (I'm a climber when I'm not doing science, and Chris Leger, who has been the lead rover driver for Spirit much of the time lately is a really accomplished rock climber... so we both want this thing.) However... Mountaineering is not the point of this mission, obviously! We're here to do science, and we're only going to go to the summit if it makes sense scientifically. But there's a good chance that it will. The summit is directly between us and the terrain to the south that we want to explore, so going over the top may be a pretty efficient route to the good stuff. Also, the summit really is going to offer a pretty good view. Geologists in the field routinely climb to the top of the highest hill to get a good look at their surroundings and plan what they're going to do next, and we may want to do that here as well. What it ultimately comes down to, I guess, is how hard the climb is. If we can get on top without wasting a lot of sols on our trek to the south, then we're definitely going to do it. But if we find the climbing is too hard and there's a significantly faster route to the south side, then we'll do that instead. So I simply don't know what's going to happen. But for now the going is good, so it's east, up, and we'll just take it sol by sol. And then what will we see? We don't really know. The views toward the south right now are enticing, but so far we haven't seen much that we hadn't already seen before, albeit from a lower elevation. Orbital images of the south side of Husband Hill show some terrace-like structures that might be exposed layers, so those may be a major target once we get over there. There's also a big dark area that we think is probably a dune field, as many dark splotches on Mars are. And there are other features that we're simply not going to understand until we get a good look at them. The downhill run into the Inner Basin should in principle go pretty quickly once we start on it, but it gets very steep in places, so we're going to have to be careful. Anyway, we've got interesting times ahead, and everybody on the team is pretty pumped up right now. '

This sounds incredibly good to me and includes the first NASA/JPL reference to the Ultreya feature, let's wait and see...

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Dum Paterfamilias

The Compostela Pilgrim's Hymn...


Thursday, June 16, 2005

So small...

Here we can have a sense of scale...
The white line represents the path made by Spirit so far.
The left white dot is the landing area, and the right one the Columbia Hills,
Ultreya is a small dark area below this one:

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Old Ideas...

One from the begginings of looking and trying to understand Ultreya:


Nice Drive!

From yesterday's sol (515) to today's (516) Spirit performed another very nice drive!
Keeping up at this rythm sooner than expected we would see the Ultreya area.

Maybe this scenario comes true:


From another perspective:



It is starting to appear some iconography around the theme...
Some visions go really deep...

This is from Stu:



From the same image (A) I've made two crops, one for a known to our sight, Larry's Lookout and Methuselah and another for the Ultreya area, just to compare the size and nature of the features envolved by knowing one of them.Here's the result:


Monday, June 13, 2005

3rd of April 2004, First Approach on Ultreya

This was this first time I've written about Ultreya on Mars Forum:

In the answer to the question: ?Was Gusev Crater filled with water for a long period of time, forming an inner sea or lake?? I feel compelled, with my practically inexistent knowledge for the task, to say yes.
And why?I?m certainly nothing more than a curious in the matter.Since the landing of the MER Spirit one feature caught my attention, a darker region in the Columbia Hills, which, to make easier to identify, I named Ultreya Abyss [Ultreya means ?ahead? and is an expression used for medieval and today?s pilgrims on their way to Compostela [Field of Stars] in Galicia, as a pilgrim I can refuse the similarity between Spirit and Opportunity all of those leaving their homes to face an unknown world but all filled with illusion and joy.]. As Spirit?s approached the hills I?ve tried to approach the best I could to the feature and I focused on one idea: If Gusev had water what would have been he role of Ultreya in that environment?First of all I believe it is a crater created by an NW to SE impact.Then I went to the bathroom and when I was taking a pee [?!] something caught my attention: the path followed by the liquid in the toilette inclination: it reached the wall, made a spiral from the hit spot to right and then to left and finally down the drain?Sounds silly?Something hit me?What if the Ultreya Abyss worked has the toilette?If it did there must be a path leading to the crater and another one to drain the water out, not down the toilette but back to the supposed Gusev Lake.Checking the available images I could say it seems like this to me, those canals or sea arms are there.I have no scientific habilitations to support what I mean to say, so, I?ll reduce myself to what it appearances.It appears to me have been like this. The Ultreya Abyss was, for millions of years escavated by flowing water and, in my opinion has a minimum 100mts deep, and, has consequence of this movement sediments were deposited there in huge quantities.Resuming, Gusev was in fact a lake with tides, and the Ultreya Abyss worked as a crossroad of those waters, like a heart, receiving and releasing the waters, that at a time, entered the crater coming from the MA?Adim Valley.
Corrections and critics are more than welcome.
With consideration
Lisboa, April 3rd, 2004'

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Stu's View

Stu, storyteller from words to be written, come up with a new window over Ultreya:
After an image posted by Slinted on the Unmanned Spaceflight forum he made some work and came out with this image:

Which suggests him to that the dark streaky features might be multiple large-scale dust-falls, or even dust avalanches, fallen away from the side of a very steep cliff, causing material to spread out in an apron over the floor of a shallow basin.
Following his words on the Mars Forum:
‘Like I said, I'm just an interested observer here, looking for a great location for a story, but if you think of features - i.e. gullies - we've seen elsewhere on Mars, and consider that we've seen steep cliffs elsewhere too, and when you also consider the "mini-landslide" of material seen recently by Spirit at the outcrop (something has to have caused that movement, maybe some seismic activity... mightn't that same activity cause avalanches into Ultreya?) I just thought it was worth mentioning. ‘
‘I definitely want a closer look too! If those dark streaks are landslides or avalanches it might mean some spectacular views of skree- and boulder-strewn slopes, and aprons spreading away from their bases, like the ones we have here in the Lake District down the sides of some of our taller fells (mountains and hills)... any avalanches might have exposed underlying bedrock too, or layering, or... well, we can only guess.’
This is the ‘skree’ Stu is talking about:

To end, or to follow up with close attention:‘Just wondering, too, if martian avalanches might account for the differences between images taken at different times: if the cliffside is unstable, then different avalanches at different times might have led to the differences we see... ‘


Mr. Squyres update on the 9th of June...

'If you've been reading these pages, you'll note that I haven't said yet where we're going after Methuselah. I wasn't playing games... the reality was that we hadn't decided. It's a much tougher call than you might think, because there are some very interesting outcrops down in Tennessee Valley, and some really good-looking stuff on the far wall of the valley. But after a lot of thought we have finally decided, and the decision is to head up Husband Hill. We're not going to try a frontal assault this time. Instead, we're going to spiral up and to the right, working both upslope and also cross-slope simultaneously. Whether we'll actually reach the summit is an open question at this point. But we're convinced that the route we've chosen offers the quickest path to a view of whatever's on the south side of the hill... and that's what we want to see next. '

We're going up!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Track Ultreya

The Volcano Hypothesis

One to have in count...

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New vision over the subject

Phil Stooke (http://publish.uwo.ca/~pjstooke/plancart.htm)
appeared with a new look over the shadowed area:

At a first glance it looks like the Ultreya mistery was revealed...
nothing more than a bunch of rocks hidding in the dark...
Then, I put the first and third images upside down and...Well...
The quest goes on:

Original MOC images

Stereo Interpretation of Ultreya

A very good work by aldox12 on his site:


Follow the Road

Estimated route to reach out for a sight of Ultreya: