This 180-degree panorama shows the southward vista from the location where Spirit is spending its third Martian winter inside Mars' Gusev Crater. The rover's overwintering location is on the northern edge of a low plateau informally called "Home Plate," which is about 80 meters or 260 feet in diameter.
This view combines 168 different exposures taken with Spirit's panoramic Camera (Pancam) -- 42 pointings with 4 filters at each pointing. Spirit took the first of the images that are combined into this view during the mission's 1,477th Martian day, or sol, (February 28, 2008). That was two weeks after the rover made its last move to reach the location where it would stop driving for the winter. Solar energy at Gusev Crater is so limited during the Martian southern hemisphere winter that Spirit does not generate enough electricity to drive, nor even enough to take many images per day. The last frame for this mosaic was taken on Sol 1,599 (July 2, 2008). The rover team plans for Spirit to finish taking images for the northern half of the scene during the Martian spring.
The northwestern edge of Home Plate is visible in the right foreground. The blockier, more sharply shadowed texture there is layered sandstone whose layering is tilted inward toward the edge of the Home Plate platform. A dark rock on top of Home Plate in that area is a porous volcanic basalt unlike rocks nearby. The northeastern edge of Home Plate is visible in the left foreground. Spirit first climbed onto Home Plate on that region, in early 2006.
Rover tracks from driving by Spirit are visible on Home plate in the center and right of the image. These were made during Spirit's second exploration on top of the plateau, which began when Spirit climbed onto the southern edge of Home Plate in September, 2007.
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, the highest point is "McCool Hill." This is one of the seven larger hills in the Columbia Hills range. Home Plate is in the inner basin of the range, between McCool Hill to the south and "Husband Hill" to the north. To the right of McCool Hill, in the center of the image and closer to Home Plate, is a smaller hill capped with a light-toned outcrop. This hill is called "Von Braun," and it is a possible destination the rover team has discussed for the next season of driving by Spirit, after the solar energy level increases in the Martian spring. The flat horizon in the right-hand portion of the panorama is the basaltic plain onto which Spirit landed on Jan. 4, 2004.
This is a false-color, red-green-blue composite panorama generated from images taken through the Pancam's 750-nanometer, 530-nanometer and 430-nanometer filters. The false color enhances visibility of differences among the types of rock and soil material in the image.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell