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Spotlight On Mars - Image
Spot-on Science!
April 09, 2008
This is an animated gif consisting of 3 images. Team photo: This photo shows 15 of the women engineers and scientists who work on the Mars Exploration Rover. They are standing behind or kneeling beside a precise replica of the rover in the mission control room. Women in Space photo: This photo shows rover engineer Dina ElDeeb raising her arm and grasping her biceps next to a T-shirt emblazoned with a woman astronaut similarly raising her arm and grasping her biceps above the words 'Women in Space.' The T-shirt also bears the JPL logo (Jet Propulsion Laboratory). Rover arm: This image shows the working parts of Spirit's rock abrasion tool turned toward the viewer at the end of the robotic arm, which extends downward from the top frame of the image. On either side of it are the two front wheels of the rover. Extending from the wheels to the horizon is the rocky, sandy surface of Mars.
Large animated gif (1.57 MB)

Instead of taking spots out, NASA's Mars rovers put spots in! While driving backward down the north rim of "Home Plate," Spirit used its robotic arm to clear away grit from flat rocks under its wheels. Upon taking a second look, Spirit discovered not only spots but stripes. The stripes are light-colored and dark-colored grains of sediment between layers of dark rock with no distinct grains. The grains range in size from about the width of a human hair to half the thickness of a dime. Light-colored dust clings to their rough surfaces. The mixture of sizes suggests the grains may have come from a volcanic explosion or been deposited by Martian winds. Thanks to Spirit, human scientists get an on-the-spot analysis of Martian history!

Robotic arm image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Microscopic image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/USGS
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