|Rover Tracks Seen from Orbit
Wheel tracks left by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, and even the rover itself, are visible in this image from the Mars Orbiter Camera on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor orbiter. North is up in this image. The tracks and rover are in the area south of a crater informally named "Bonneville," which is just southeast of the center of the image. The orbiter captured this image with use of an enhanced-resolution technique called compensated pitch and roll targeted observation. It took the picture on March 30, 2004, 85 martian days, or sols, after Spirit landed on Mars. The rover had driven from its landing site to the rim of Bonneville and was examining materials around the crater's rim.
In this portion of the plains inside the much larger Gusev Crater, Spirit created wheel tracks darker than the undisturbed surface,
as seen in the rover's own images showing the tracks (for example, http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA05450).
The contrast allows the tracks to show up in the image obtained from orbit. Also visible are Spirit's lander, backshell and parachute, and the scar where its heat shield hit the ground.
The full image covers an area 3 kilometers (2 miles) wide, at 14.8 degrees south latitude and 184.6 degrees west longitude. Pixel size is about 1.5 meters (5 feet) by one-half meter (1.6 feet). Sunlight illuminates the scene from the upper left.
Photo Credit: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems