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Press Release Images: Spirit
10-Dec-2007
  Mars Rover Investigates Signs of Steamy Martian Past
Full Press Release
Dusty Solar Panels on Spirit
Dusty Solar Panels on Spirit

The deck of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit is so dusty that the rover almost blends into the dusty background in this image assembled from frames taken by the panoramic camera (Pancam) during the period from Spirit's Sol 1,355 through Sol 1,358 (Oct. 26-29, 2007).

Dust on the solar panels reduces the amount of electrical power the rover can generate from sunlight each sol. Earlier self-portraits by Spirit, such as one taken on Sol 586, offer a comparison view of cleaner solar panels.

The vertical projection used here produces the best view of the rover deck, though it distorts the ground and antennas somewhat. The eight-pointed star shape near the front of the rover (bottom of the image) marks the location of the camera mast, which is out of view of the Pancam atop the mast.

This mosaic view in approximate true color is a composite of frames taken through the Pancam's filters centered on wavelengths of 600 nanometers, 530 nanometers and 480 nanometers.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell
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Spirit's Traverse, Sols 1 to 1,386
Spirit's Traverse, Sols 1 to 1,386

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit was crossing northward on a low plateau called "Home Plate" on the 1,386th Martian day, or sol, (Nov. 26, 2007) of Spirit's time on Mars. By that time, nearly 47 months into a mission originally planned to last three months, Spirit had driven 7,435 meters (4.62 miles). From its landing site near the northwest corner of this map, Spirit crossed a plain to reach the Columbia Hills, climbed over the summit of Husband Hill, and descended into the "Inner Basin" of the range, near the southeast corner of the map.

For this map, the yellow line indicating Spirit's route has been overlaid onto a portion of an image taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Nov. 22, 2006, That image is catalogued as PSP_001513_1655. The scale bar on the map is 500 meters (1,640 feet) long. North is up.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UA/Cornell/NM Museum of Natural History and Science
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Heading for Next Winter Haven
Heading for Next Winter Haven

Approaching its 47th month of a Mars surface mission originally planned to last three months, NASA's Spirit rover was also approaching the northern edge of a low plateau called "Home Plate." The rover's operators selected an area with north-facing slope there as a destination where Spirit would have its best chance of surviving low-solar-energy conditions of oncoming Martian winter.

The yellow line on this map of the Home Plate area indicates Spirit's route from early February 2006, entering the mapped area from the north (top), to late November 2007, on the western edge of the bright-toned Home Plate plateau. The map covers an area about 160 meters (525 feet) across from west to east. Labels indicate the area intended for Spirit to spend many months spanning the rover's third Martian winter, the site where it spent about seven months (April to November 2006) spanning its second winter, and the site where it lost use of the drive motor for one of its six wheels.

A north-facing slope helps Spirit maximizes electric output from its solar panels during winter months because Spirit is in the southern hemisphere of Mars, so the sun appears only in the northern sky during winter. For the third winter, which will reach its minumum solar-energy days in early June 2008, Spirit faces the challenge of having more dust on its solar panels than it had during its second winter.

The base image for this map is a portion of a color image taken on Jan. 9, 2007,by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UA/Cornell/NM Museum of Natural History and Science
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Spirit Nears North-Tilting Site for Winter Haven

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit made daily progress in early December 2007 toward the northern edge of a low plateau called "Home Plate." The rover's operators selected an area with north-facing slope there (indicated by the blue-outlined rectangle) as a destination where Spirit would have its best chance of surviving low-solar-energy conditions of oncoming Martian winter.

As indicated by the yellow line tracing the path Spirit has driven, the rover was near the western edge of the plateau on Sol (Martian day) 1,390 of the mission (Nov. 30, 2007), but nearing the northern edge by Sol 1,397 (Dec. 8, 2007).

A north-facing slope helps Spirit maximizes electric output from its solar panels during winter months because Spirit is in the southern hemisphere of Mars, so the sun appears only in the northern sky during winter. For the third winter, which will reach its minumum solar-energy days in early June 2008, Spirit faces the challenge of having more dust on its solar panels than it had during its second winter.

The base image for this map is a portion of a color image taken on Jan. 9, 2007,by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UA/Cornell/NM Museum of Natural History and Science
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Full-Res (NASA's Planetary Photojournal)

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