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Press Release Images: Spirit
24-Mar-2004
 
 
Heatshield on the Horizon
Heatshield on the Horizon

The Mars Exploration Rover Spirit acquired this panoramic camera image mosaic on the 68th martian day, or sol, of its mission (March 12, 2004). The reflective speck about 200 meters (650 feet) away, on the far crater rim, was immediately a point of interest for scientists and engineers alike. They soon were able to identify it as Spirit's protective heatshield.

While the debris is too far away to make out clearly, orbital imagery of the area acquired before and after Spirit landed supports scientists' and engineers' conclusion. Prior to Spirit's landing, the surface at this location appeared undisturbed in orbital images, while post-landing images revealed a large gouge where the heatshield now rests.

The smaller image in the box at the lower left corner provides a closer look at the heatshield, and was taken at a lower compression by the panoramic camera on sol 69 (March 13, 2004). Lower compression results in higher quality images. While both the full panorama and close-up are depicted in approximate true color, their colors vary slightly because different filters were used to acquire them. The close-up image was taken with the 600, 530 and 480 nanometer filters. The large mosaic was taken with the 750, 530 and 480 nanometer filters.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell
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'Illinois' and 'New York' Wiped Clean
'Illinois' and 'New York' Wiped Clean

This panoramic camera image was taken by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit on sol 79 after completing a two-location brushing on the rock dubbed "Mazatzal." A coating of fine, dust-like material was successfully removed from targets named "Illinois" (right) and "New York" (left), revealing the weathered rock underneath. In this image, Spirit's panoramic camera mast assembly, or camera head, can be seen shadowing Mazatzal's surface. This approximate true color image was taken with the 601, 535 and 482 nanometer filters.

The center of the two brushed spots are approximately 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) apart and will be aggressively analyzed by the instruments on the robotic arm on sol 80. Plans for sol 81 are to grind into the New York target to get past any weathered rock and expose the original, internal rock underneath.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell
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A Closer Look at 'Mazatzal'
A Closer Look at "Mazatzal"

This black and white panoramic camera image of the rock called "Mazatzal" (top of image) was taken by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit on sol 76 (March 2, 2004). It reveals some interesting features on this future rock abrasion tool target, including variants in tone, a sugary surface texture and scalloped areas where parts of the rock seem to have been worn away. Mazatzal's uniqueness is made even more obvious when it is compared to the more typical, basaltic rock in the lower right of the image.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell
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Peeling Back the Layers
Peeling Back the Layers

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit took this panoramic camera image of the rock target named "Mazatzal" on sol 77 (March 22, 2004). It is a close-up look at the rock face and the targets that will be brushed and ground by the rock abrasion tool in upcoming sols.

Mazatzal, like most rocks on Earth and Mars, has layers of material near its surface that provide clues about the history of the rock. Scientists believe that the top layer of Mazatzal is actually a coating of dust and possibly even salts. Under this light coating may be a more solid portion of the rock that has been chemically altered by weathering. Past this layer is the unaltered rock, which may give scientists the best information about how Mazatzal was formed.

Because each layer reveals information about the formation and subsequent history of Mazatzal, it is important that scientists get a look at each of them. For this reason, they have developed a multi-part strategy to use the rock abrasion tool to systematically peel back Mazatzal's layers and analyze what's underneath with the rover's microscopic imager, and its Moessbauer and alpha particle X-ray spectrometers.

The strategy began on sol 77 when scientists used the microscopic imager to get a closer look at targets on Mazatzal named "New York," "Illinois" and "Arizona." These rock areas were targeted because they posed the best opportunity for successfully using the rock abrasion tool; Arizona also allowed for a close-up look at a range of tones. On sol 78, Spirit's rock abrasion tool will do a light brushing on the Illinois target to preserve some of the surface layers. Then, a brushing of the New York target should remove the top coating of any dust and salts and perhaps reveal the chemically altered rock underneath. Finally, on sol 79, the rock abrasion tool will be commanded to grind into the New York target, which will give scientists the best chance of observing Mazatzal's interior.

The Mazatzal targets were named after the home states of some of the rock abrasion tool and science team members.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell
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