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Full-Circle 'Bonestell' Panorama from Spirit (Annotated)
Notes on this 360-degree panorama from the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit indicate locations for several events of the first five Earth years since Spirit landed inside Gusev Crater.
Spirit landed on January 4, 2004, Universal Time (January 3, 2004, Pacific Standard Time).
The view is from the spot where Spirit has spent its third Martian southern-hemisphere winter, on the northern edge of a low plateau informally called "Home Plate." A dotted line marks the edge of Home Plate, which is about 80 meters or 260 feet in diameter.
The images combined into this panoramic view were taken by Spirit beginning on the mission's 1,477th Martian day, or sol, (February 28, 2008) and finishing on Sol 1691 (October 5, 2008). The rover stayed in place for most of 2008 because of the low energy available to it during the Martian southern hemisphere winter. Spirit began shifting position to adjust its tilt on Sol 1709 (October 23, 2008), but the rover's location at the end of 2008 is within about a meter (3 feet) of the position from which this panorama was acquired.
The distance measurements shown with the name of a feature indicate the distance of that feature from where Spirit was while taking this image. The units are meters and feet, except for Grissom Hill and the Spirit landing site, for which the units are kilometers and miles. Husband Hill, for example, is seen near the right edge of the panorama, to the north, and its summit is 754 meters (2,413 meters) away. Spirit's landing site is 3.8 kilometers (2.3 miles) away to the northwest, on the Gusev plains.
Where sol numbers are given in the notes on this panorama, they refer to the sol during which Spirit was at or near that feature or position. For example, Spirit reached the summit of Husband Hill on Sol 619 (Sept. 29, 2005). On its way from the base of the Columbia Hills to that height, it spent sols 156 to 312 (June 11 to November 18, 2004) on the West Spur of the Columbia Hills range. It had reached Home Plate and was examining a rock called "Fuzzy Smith" by sols 768 to 771 (March 1 to March 4, 2006). Spirit spent its second Martian winter on Low Ridge to the southeast from this viewpoint, from sol 804 to sol 1036 (April 8 to December 2, 2006). In 2007, it climbed up the south end of Home Plate and left tracks visible at several locations on Home Plate as it approached the location that is the viewpoint for this panorama.
In the center foreground, the turret of tools at the end of Spirit's robotic arm appears in duplicate because the arm was repositioned between the days when the images making up that part of the mosaic were taken. On the horizon above the turret, to the south, is a small hill called "Von Braun," capped with a light-toned outcrop. It and a nearby pit ("Goddard," out of sight behind Home Plate) are possible destinations for Spirit during the upcoming Martian southern-hemisphere summer.
This is an approximate true-color, red-green-blue composite panorama generated from images taken through the Pancam's 600-nanometer, 530-nanometer and 480-nanometer filters. This "natural color" view is the rover team's best estimate of what the scene would look like if we were there and able to see it with our own eyes.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell University/New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science