Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA's Durable Spirit Sends Intriguing New Images From Mars

Date:
September 2, 2005
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
Working atop a range of Martian hills, NASA's Spirit rover is rewarding researchers with tempting scenes filled with evidence of past planet environments. Volcanic rocks covering the plain Spirit crossed on its way to the hills bore evidence of only slight alteration by water. When Spirit reached the base of the hills five months after landing, it immediately began finding rocks with wetter histories.

This mini-panorama was taken by Spirit on Aug. 23, 2005, just as the rover completed its intrepid climb up "Husband Hill."
Credit: Image courtesy of NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Working atop a range of Martian hills, NASA's Spirit rover isrewarding researchers with tempting scenes filled with evidence of pastplanet environments.

"When the images came down and we could see horizon all the wayaround, that was every bit as exhilarating as getting to the top of anymountain I've climbed on Earth," said Chris Leger, a rover planner atNASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

The summit sits 82 meters (269 feet) above the edge of thesurrounding plains. It is 106 meters (348 feet) higher than the sitewhere Spirit landed nearly 20 months ago. Spirit and twin rover,Opportunity, successfully completed their three-month prime missions inApril 2004. They have inspected dozens of rocks and soil targets sincethen, continuing their pursuit of geological evidence about formerlywet conditions on Mars.

"Spirit has climbed to the hilltop and looked over the other side,but NASA did not do this just to say we can do it. The Mars rovers areaddressing fundamental questions about Martian history and planetaryenvironments," said NASA's Mars Exploration Program Director DougMcCuistion.

The crest of "Husband Hill" offers Spirit's views of possible routesinto a basin to the south with apparently layered outcrops. Shortlyafter Spirit landed, it observed a cluster of seven hills about 3kilometers (2 miles) east of its landing site. NASA proposed naming therange "Columbia Hills" in tribute to the last crew of Space ShuttleColumbia. The tallest of the hills commemorates Rick Husband,Columbia's commander.

Volcanic rocks covering the plain Spirit crossed on its way to thehills bore evidence of only slight alteration by water. When Spiritreached the base of the hills five months after landing, it immediatelybegan finding rocks with wetter histories.

"This climb was motivated by science," said Steve Squyres of CornellUniversity, Ithaca, N.Y. Squyres is principal investigator for therovers' science instruments. "Every time Spirit has gained altitude,we've found different rock types. Also, we're doing what any fieldgeologist would do in an area like this: climbing to a good vantagepoint for plotting a route."

Researchers are viewing possible routes south to apparently layeredledges and to a feature dubbed "home plate," which might be a plateauof older rock or a filled-in crater.

The landing site and the Columbia Hills are within Gusev Crater, abowl about 150 kilometers (95 miles) in diameter. The crater wasselected as the landing site for the Spirit rover because the shape ofthe terrain suggests the crater once held a lake. Volcanic depositsappear to have covered any sign of ancient lakebed geology out on theplain, but scientists say the hills expose older layers that have beenlifted and tipped by a meteorite impact or other event.

"We're finding abundant evidence for alteration of rocks in a waterenvironment," said Ray Arvidson of Washington University, St. Louis,Mo. Arvidson is deputy principal investigator for the rovers' scienceinstruments. "What we want to do is figure out which layers were on topof which other layers. To do that it has been helpful to keep climbingfor good views of how the layers are tilted to varying degrees.Understanding the sequence of layers is equivalent to having a deepdrill core from drilling beneath the plains."

Both Spirit and Opportunity have been extremely successful. Theirsolar panels are generating plenty of energy thanks to repeateddust-cleaning events. Spirit has driven 4,827 meters (3.00 miles), andOpportunity 5,737 meters (3.56 miles).

JPL manages the Mars Exploration Rover project for NASA's ScienceMission Directorate. For images and information about the rovers andtheir discoveries on the Web, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/solarsystem/mer_main.html or http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov.

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Internet, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/home .


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "NASA's Durable Spirit Sends Intriguing New Images From Mars." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 September 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050902062700.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2005, September 2). NASA's Durable Spirit Sends Intriguing New Images From Mars. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050902062700.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "NASA's Durable Spirit Sends Intriguing New Images From Mars." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050902062700.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan

Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan

AP (July 23, 2014) The Progress 56 cargo ship launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Wednesday. NASA says it will deliver cargo and crew supplies to the International Space Station. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

AP (July 22, 2014) A Russian Soyuz cargo-carrying spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station on Monday. The craft is due to undergo about ten days of engineering tests before it burns up in the Earth's atmosphere. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

AP (July 21, 2014) NASA honored one of its most famous astronauts Monday by renaming a historic building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It now bears the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins