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FIDO Goes for a Walk

View a larger image (390 kB) or learn about other sol 7 images.

This type of picture would be a welcome relief for scientists during operations on Mars. Because the airbags are at a short distance away from the rover, scientists and engineers can conclude that the rover successfully drove off the lander in a process called, "egress." Egress is a tricky part of the mission and it will be a glorious day on Mars to discover that the rover is ready to roll!

Peter Smith

Peter Smith

Peter Smith, a scientist from the University of Arizona, looked at the mesas and buttes in the distance of the picture, noting that they reveal clues about the past climate on Mars. "Mesas and buttes are evidence of erosion. Perhaps an ancient ocean once covered this land, leaving behind layered deposits after the water retreated. In more recent history, these layers have been heavily worn down, forming cliffs and canyons that are the banks of an extensive river system that may eventually lead to the sea. Seeing features of this sort on Mars would be evidence for an ancient ocean."

The next step will begin the interesting process of debate, when experts from different scientific fields start prioritizing where the rover should explore now that scientists are confident that the rover is finally free and clear of its airbags.

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Last Updated: 16 August 2002

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