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Press Release Images: Spirit
08-Jun-2004
Mars Rovers Continue Unique Exploration of Mars
Full Press Release
 
Salty Trench
Salty Trench

This image taken by the panoramic camera on the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit shows a trench dug by the rover on its way toward the "Columbia Hills." Measurements taken of the soil contained in the trench by Spirit's alpha particle X-ray spectrometer showed the presence of sulfur and magnesium. Concentrations of those two elements varied in parallel at different locations in the trench, suggesting that they may be paired as a magnesium-sulfate salt. One possible explanation for these findings is that water percolated through underground material and dissolved out minerals, then as the water evaporated near the surface, it left concentrated salts behind.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell
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Spirit Sees Salty Soil
Spirit Sees Salty Soil

This graph compares amounts of magnesium and sulfur in the soil lining the trenches dug by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit on sols 114 and 140 (April 28 and May 25, 2004) at Gusev Crater. Measurements were taken of the soil at the surface, floor and walls of the trench dug on sol 140 (squares), and at the surface and floor of the trench dug on sol 114 (diamonds). Non-trenched soil samples from Gusev Crater are represented as dots. The more recently made trench is located near the base of the "Columbia Hills."

Because concentrations of magnesium and sulfur occur in the same ratio throughout the trench dug on sol 140, scientists believe the soil there contains the salt magnesium sulfate. The walls of this trench appear to contain the highest concentrations of the salt. The trench from sol 114 may also possess magnesium sulfate, but the data is less clear. These data were taken by Spirit's alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

One possible explanation for these findings is that water percolated through underground material and dissolved out minerals, then as the water evaporated near the surface, it left concentrated salts behind.

Image credit: NNASA/JPL/Cornell/Max Planck Institute
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Approaching the Hills
Approaching the Hills

This approximate true-color rendering of the central part of the "Columbia Hills" was made using images taken by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit panoramic camera. Scientists plan to use the science instruments on the rover to analyze the composition of rock and soil at the hills," Spirit's planned destination. The images in this mosaic, acquired on sol 149 (June 3, 2004), were taken with the camera's 600, 530, and 480 nanometer filters from three rover positions approximately 300 meters (984 feet) away from the base of the hills.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell
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