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Press Release Images: Spirit
11-Mar-2004
Spirit Looks Down Into Crater After Reaching Rim
Full Press Release
 
A Deep Dish for Discovery
A Deep Dish for Discovery

On the 66th martian day, or sol, of its mission, the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit finished a drive and sent back this navigation camera image mosaic revealing "Bonneville" crater in its entirety.

Spirit has spent more than 60 sols, two thirds of the nominal mission, en route to the rim of the large crater dubbed "Bonneville." The rover stopped on occasion to examine rocks along the way, many of which probably found their resting places after being ejected from the nearly 200-meter-diameter (656-foot) crater.

The science team sent the rover to "Bonneville" to find out more about where the rocks they have examined so far originated. Reaching the rim of this deep dish has been a major priority since day one.

According to science team member Dr. John Grant of Washington D.C.'s National Air and Space Museum, the "Bonneville" crater could be a giant window into the ancient past of the Gusev landing site. He said, "The rocks that we see scattered around our landing site may be ejecta from inside "Bonneville," but we won't know that for sure until we actually investigate the crater. We can look at the rocks' form and chemistry, but we don't know how they fit into the big picture. If we can find their occurrence within the walls of "Bonneville" crater, we'll be one step closer to understanding the processes that shaped the entire Gusev area over time."

Most scientists agree that a fitting prize for this long drive would be to find an outcrop of bedrock material that was not transported, but formed in the crater. When a meteorite slams into the ground and creates a crater, it throws surface debris out to the sides, revealing the older, mostly buried material, a sort of natural "road cut." The real gem would be to find exposed layers of the ancient rock within the "cut" walls of the crater, which would give scientists a peek into how the area formed. "The Gusev landing site is at least partially covered in a layer of ejecta material," said Grant. "As Mars was repeatedly pelted with meteorites, the ejecta kept piling on top of other ejecta leaving a blanket of debris and little trace of what the original surface was. We want to see beneath all that impact debris, into what is really filling the Gusev crater. Hopefully "Bonneville" crater will give us a clue to what the material is at the top of that pile."

Image credit: NASA/JPL
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Three Stops Ahead
Three Stops Ahead

This image taken by the navigation camera on the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit shows the view ahead of the rover on the 44th martian day, or sol, if its mission. Directly in front of the rover is the shallow depression dubbed "Laguna Hollow," where it dug a trench with one of its wheels. Further in the distance and to the right is the rock nicknamed "Humphrey," and even further up and to the right is another rock called "Hole Point." These three features line the path the rover is taking to the large crater dubbed "Bonneville." Listed on the picture are the sols on which the rover reached each of these milestones.

Image credit: NASA/JPL
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Trenching Martian Ground
Trenching Martian Ground

This image shows a three-dimensional model of the trench dug by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit at a shallow depression dubbed "Laguna Hollow" on the 47th martian day, or sol, of its mission. The rover dragged one of its wheels back and forth across the surface to create this 7-centimeter-deep (3-inch) hole. Afterwards, it investigated the freshly exposed soil with the scientific instruments located on its robotic arm. This model was created using images from the rover's panoramic camera.

Image credit: NASA/JPL
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'Humphrey' Like You've Never Seen It
'Humphrey' Like You've Never Seen It

This image shows a three-dimensional model of the rock dubbed "Humphrey" at Gusev Crater, Mars, the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit's landing site. Spirit examined the lumpy rock with its suite of scientific instruments both before and after it drilled a hole into the rock surface on the 60th martian day, or sol, of its mission. "Humphrey" was one of several stops on the rover's way to the large crater dubbed "Bonneville." This model is displayed using software developed by NASA's Ames Research Center. Images from the rover's panoramic camera were used to make the model.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Ames
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The Rocky Road to the Crater Rim
The Rocky Road to the Crater Rim

This image taken by the panoramic camera on the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit shows the rocky road the rover traversed to reach its current position 16 meters (52 feet) away from the rim of the crater called "Bonneville." The terrain here slopes upward about five degrees. To the upper right is the rock dubbed "Hole Point," which is about 60 centimeters (two feet) across. This image was taken on the 63rd martian day, or sol, of Spirit's mission.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell
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A Steep Climb
A Steep Climb

This image shows a screenshot from software used by engineers to drive the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit up toward the rim of the crater dubbed "Bonneville." The software simulates the rover's movements across the martian terrain, helping to plot a safe course. The virtual 3-D world around the rover is built from images taken by Spirit's stereo navigation cameras. Regions for which the rover has not yet acquired 3-D data are represented in beige. The red darts show target destinations. Red lines indicate the path the rover's wheels will follow to reach the target, and the blue line denotes the path of the rover's "belly button," as engineers like to call it.

In this picture, Spirit is parked at its present location 16 meters (52 feet) away from the crater's rim. Later today, it will drive the rest of the way to "Bonneville."

Image credit: NASA/JPL
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King of the Crater Ledge
King of the Crater Ledge

This image shows a screenshot from software used by engineers to drive the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit up toward the rim of the crater dubbed "Bonneville." The software simulates the rover's movements across the martian terrain, helping to plot a safe course. The virtual 3-D world around the rover is built from images taken by Spirit's stereo navigation cameras. Regions for which the rover has not yet acquired 3-D data are represented in beige. In this picture, the rover is seen in its projected final position at the rim of the crater. Later today, Spirit will travel 16 more meters (52 feet) to reach the crater ledge.

Image credit: NASA/JPL
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'Bonneville' and Beyond
'Bonneville' and Beyond

On the 66th martian day, or sol, of its mission, the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit finished a drive and sent back this navigation camera panorama showing "Bonneville" crater and the rocky plains surrounding it. The rover's solar panels are visible in the foreground, and the to right, the Columbia Hills complex. Zooming into the picture, the rover's parachute can be seen as a tiny white dot at the far left, and just above the far crater rim is the heatsheild, visible as a tiny reflective speck.

Image credit: NASA/JPL
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Stars in Orion as Seen from Mars
Stars in Orion as Seen from Mars

Stars in the upper portion of the constellation Orion the Hunter, including the bright shoulder star Betelgeuse and Orion's three-star belt, appear in this image taken from the surface of Mars by the panoramic camera on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit.

Spirit imaged stars on March 11, 2004, after it awoke during the martian night for a communication session with NASA's Mars Global Surveyor orbiter. This image is an eight-second exposure. Longer exposures were also taken. The images tested the capabilities of the rover for night-sky observations. Scientists will use the results to aid planning for possible future astronomical observations from Mars.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell
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You are here: Earth as seen from Mars
You are here: Earth as seen from Mars

This is the first image ever taken of Earth from the surface of a planet beyond the Moon. It was taken by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit one hour before sunrise on the 63rd martian day, or sol, of its mission. The image is a mosaic of images taken by the rover's navigation camera showing a broad view of the sky, and an image taken by the rover's panoramic camera of Earth. The contrast in the panoramic camera image was increased two times to make Earth easier to see.

The inset shows a combination of four panoramic camera images zoomed in on Earth. The arrow points to Earth. Earth was too faint to be detected in images taken with the panoramic camera's color filters.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/Texas A&M
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It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's a... Spacecraft?

Observing the sky with the green filter of it panoramic camera, the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit came across a surprise: a streak across the sky. The streak, seen in the middle of this mosaic of images taken by the navigation and panoramic cameras, was probably the brightest object in the sky at the time. Scientists theorize that the mystery line could be either a meteorite or one of seven out-of-commission spacecraft still orbiting Mars. Because the object appeared to move 4 degrees of an arc in 15 seconds it is probably not the Russian probes Mars 2, Mars 3, Mars 5, or Phobos 2; or the American probes Mariner 9 or Viking 1. That leaves Viking 2, which has a polar orbit that would fit with the north-south orientation of the streak. In addition, only Viking 1 and 2 were left in orbits that could produce motion as fast as that seen by Spirit. Said Mark Lemmon, a rover team member from Texas A&M University, Texas, "Is this the first image of a meteor on Mars, or an image of a spacecraft sent from another world during the dawn of our robotic space exploration program? We may never know, but we are still looking for clues."

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell
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It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's a... Spacecraft?
It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's a... Spacecraft?

Observing the sky with the green filter of it panoramic camera, the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit came across a surprise: a streak across the sky. The streak, seen in the middle of this mosaic of images taken by the navigation and panoramic cameras, was probably the brightest object in the sky at the time. Scientists theorize that the mystery line could be either a meteorite or one of seven out-of-commission spacecraft still orbiting Mars. Because the object appeared to move 4 degrees of an arc in 15 seconds it is probably not the Russian probes Mars 2, Mars 3, Mars 5, or Phobos 2; or the American probes Mariner 9 or Viking 1. That leaves Viking 2, which has a polar orbit that would fit with the north-south orientation of the streak. In addition, only Viking 1 and 2 were left in orbits that could produce motion as fast as that seen by Spirit. Said Mark Lemmon, a rover team member from Texas A&M University, Texas, "Is this the first image of a meteor on Mars, or an image of a spacecraft sent from another world during the dawn of our robotic space exploration program? We may never know, but we are still looking for clues."

The inset shows only the panoramic image of the streak.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/Texas A&M
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Earth on the Horizon
Earth on the Horizon

This is the first image ever taken of Earth from the surface of a planet beyond the Moon. It was taken by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit one hour before sunrise on the 63rd martian day, or sol, of its mission. Earth is the tiny white dot in the center. The image is a mosaic of images taken by the rover's navigation camera showing a broad view of the sky, and an image taken by the rover's panoramic camera of Earth. The contrast in the panoramic camera image was increased two times to make Earth easier to see.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell
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Stars and Cosmic Rays Observed from Mars
Stars and Cosmic Rays Observed from Mars

In this five-minute exposure taken from the surface of Mars by NASA's Spirit rover, stars appear as streaks due to the rotation of the planet, and instantaneous cosmic-ray hits appear as points of light.

Spirit took the image with its panoramic camera on March 11, 2004, after waking up during the martian night for a communication session with NASA's Mars Global Surveyor orbiter. Other exposures were also taken. The images tested the capabilities of the rover for night-sky observations. Scientists will use the results to aid planning for possible future astronomical observations from Mars.

The difference in Mars' rotation, compared to Earth's, gives the star trails in this image a different orientation than they would have in a comparable exposure taken from Earth.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell
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