Leaving Santa Maria…

30 03 2011


From orbit you were, frankly, uninspiring.

To HiRISE’s James Bond villain’s spy satellite

Eye you were just another hole, jagged

And ragged of edge, with a wedge of rippled dust

Draped over your sunken floor. Nothing more.

So as Opportunity rolled up to your rim

Many of her backseat drivers confidently predicted

A brief, boring stay, a mere pre-Endeavour layover

Just long enough for our heroine to shuck the rucksack

From her shoulders and catch her breath

Before heading for the hills…

But you gave us views to make

Even the most hard-to-move jaws drop:

Rocks the shape of snapped-off crocodile

Tails; tilted, crazy paving-covered cliffs with

Boulders balanced on their peaks;

Chunks of curiously-coated stone,

Lonely lumps of ancient ejecta scattered

Round your crumbling edge, capped

With pitted purple scabs of What-is-that??

No wonder we struck camp on your slopes

For so long: with so many memorable sights

To see, the horizon suddenly seemed a dream away…

But you are behind us now,

Reduced to blurred bumps and mounds

In the Rear Hazcam’s view and soon

Will not be seen at all because, at last,

Endeavour is truly in our sights,

Hogging our thoughts, day and night.

Dreams of finding phyllosillicates fill our

Heads now, as Meridiani’s asphalt-flat plain

Stretches out in all directions to touch

The butterscotch sky….

But our memories of Santa Maria’s magic

Will not soon fade. Farewell – and thank you…

© Stuart Atkinson 2011

 Thanks again to my great friend “AstroO” from UMSF, who has turned this latest poem into another beautiful “poemster”, which you can find here…



19 03 2011


I am very proud and honoured that the MESSENGER probe team have put up on their website a poem I wrote especially for the mission, to mark the MESSENGER probe’s insertion into orbit around Mercury!

You can find the poem on the MESSENGER website here: