NASAs durable twin Mars rovers have successfully explored the surface of the mysterious red planet for a full Martian year (687 Earth days). Opportunity starts its second Martian year Dec. 11; Spirit started its new year three weeks ago. The rovers original mission was scheduled for only three months.
This view from the panoramic camera on NASAs Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows an outcrop called "Olympia" along the northwestern margin of "Erebus" crater. The view spans about 120 degrees from side to side, generally looking southward. The outcrop exposes a broad expanse of sulfate-rich sedimentary rocks. The rocks were formed predominantly from windblown sediments, but some also formed in environmental conditions from damp to under shallow surface water. After taking the images that were combined into this view, Opportunity drove along along a path between sand dunes to the upper left side of the image, where a cliff in the background can be seen. This is a cliff is known as the "Mogollon Rim." Researchers expect it to expose more than 1 meter (3 feet) of new strata. These strata may represent the highest level observed yet by Opportunity. The image is an approximately true-color rendering generated using the panoramic cameras 750-nanometer, 530-nanometer and 430-nanometer filters. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell
The panoramic camera on NASAs Mars Exploration Rover Spirit took the hundreds of images combined into this 360-degree view, the "Husband Hill Summit" panorama. The images were acquired on Spirits sols 583 to 586 (Aug. 24 to 27, 2005), shortly after the rover reached the crest of "Husband Hill" inside Mars Gusev Crater. This is the largest panorama yet acquired from either Spirit or Opportunity. The panoramic camera shot 653 separate images in 6 different filters, encompassing the rovers deck and the full 360 degrees of surface rocks and soils visible to the camera from this position. This is the first time the camera has been used to image the entire rover deck and visible surface from the same position. Stitching together of all the images took significant effort because of the large changes in resolution and parallax across the scene. The image is an approximately true-color rendering using the 750-nanometer, 530-nanometer and 480-nanometer filters for the surface, and the 600-nanometer and 480-nanometer filters for the rover deck. Image-to-image seams have been eliminated from the sky portion of the mosaic to better simulate the vista a person standing on Mars would see. This panorama provided the teams first view of the "Inner Basin" region (center of the image), including the enigmatic "Home Plate" feature seen from orbital data. After investigating the summit area, Spirit drove downhill to get to the Inner Basin region. Spirit arrived at the summit from the west, along the direction of the rover tracks seen in the middle right of the panorama. The peaks of "McCool Hill" and "Ramon Hill" can be seen on the horizon near the center of the panorama. The summit region itself is a broad, windswept plateau. Spirit spent more than a month exploring the summit region, measuring the chemistry and mineralogy of soils and rocky outcrops at the peak of Husband Hill for comparison with similar measurements obtained during the ascent. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell
"The rovers went through all of the Martian seasons and are back to late summer," said Dr. John Callas of NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. He is deputy rover project manager. "Were preparing for the challenge of surviving another Martian winter."
Both rovers keep finding new variations of bedrock in areas they are exploring on opposite sides of Mars. The geological information they collect increases evidence about ancient Martian environments including periods of wet, possibly habitable conditions.
Guy Webster | EurekAlert!
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