Spirit Near "Stapledon" on Sol 1802
NASA Mars Exploration Rover Spirit used its navigation camera for the images assembled into this full-circle view of the rover's surroundings during the 1,802nd Martian day, or sol, (January 26, 2009) of Spirit's mission on the surface of Mars. South is at the center; north is at both ends.
Spirit had driven down off the low plateau called "Home Plate" on Sol 1782 (January 6, 2009) after spending 12 months on a north-facing slope on the northern edge of Home Plate. The position on the slope tilted Spirit's solar panels toward the sun, enabling the rover to generate enough electricity to survive its third Martian winter. Tracks on the right-hand side of this panorama can be seen leading back to that "Winter Haven 3" site from the Sol 1802 position about 10 meters (33 feet) away. For scale, the distance between the parallel wheel tracks is about one meter (40 inches).
Where the receding tracks bend to the left, a circular pattern resulted from Spirit turning in place at a soil target informally named "Stapledon" after William Olaf Stapledon, a British philosopher and science-fiction author who lived from 1886 to 1950. Scientists on the rover team suspected that the soil in that area might have a high concentration of silica, resembling a high-silica soil patch discovered east of Home Plate in 2007. Bright material visible in the track furthest to the right was examined with Spirit's alpha partical X-ray spectrometer and found, indeed, to be rich in silica.
The team laid plans to drive Spirit from this Sol 1802 location back up onto Home Plate, then southward for the rover's summer field season.
This view is presented as a cylindrical projection with geometric seam correction.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Full resolution TIFF