NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology JPL HOME EARTH SOLAR SYSTEM STARS & GALAXIES SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY JPL Email News RSS Mobile Video
Follow this link to skip to the main content
JPL banner - links to JPL and CalTech
left nav graphic Overview Science Technology The Mission People Spotlights Events Multimedia All Mars
Mars for Kids
Mars for Students
Mars for Educators
Mars for Press
+ Mars Home
+ Rovers Home
Press Release Images
All Raw Images
3-D Images
Special-Effects Images
Mars Artwork
Landing Sites
Press Release Images: Opportunity
Red Marks the Spot
Red Marks the Spot

Red Marks the Spot

This hematite abundance index map helps geologists choose hematite-rich locations to visit around Opportunity's landing site. Blue dots equal areas low in hematite and red dots equal areas high in hematite.

Why Hematite

Geologists are eager to reach the hematite-rich area in the upper left to closely examine the soil, which may reveal secrets about how the hematite got to this location. Knowing how the hematite on Mars was formed may help scientists characterize the past environment and determine whether that environment provided favorable conditions for life.

The Plan

Over the next few sols, engineers and scientists plan to drive Opportunity to the hematite-rich area then attempt a "pre-trench" sequence, taking measurements with the Mössbauer spectrometer, alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and microscopic imager. Next, the plan is to trench the hematite rich area by spinning one wheel in place to "dig" a shallow hole. Finally, scientists will aim the instrument arm back at the same area where it pre-trenched to get post-trench data with the same instruments to compare and contrast the levels of hematite and revel how deep the hematite lays in the dirt.

Index Map Details

The hematite abundance index map was created using data from the miniature thermal emission instrument. The first layer is a mosaic of panoramic camera images taken prior to egress, when Opportunity was still on the lander. The colored dots represent data collected by the miniature thermal emission spectrometer on sol 11, after Opportunity had rolled off of the lander and the rover was located at the center of the blue semi-circle.

The spectrometer is located on the panoramic camera mast. On sol 11, it took a low-angle 180-degree panorama of the area in front of the rover, indicated by the blue shaded dots. The instrument then raised the angle of its field of view a few degrees higher to sweep around behind the rover, indicated by the red and yellow dots offset at the far sides of the image.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Exploration Rover project for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell
Browse Image (21 kB) | Medium Image (93 kB) | Large (1.7 MB)

JPL Image Use Policy
PRIVACY    |     FAQ    |     SITEMAP    |     CREDITS