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Bright Soil Churned by Spirit's Sol 1861 Drive
03.30.09
 
Spirit churns up bright soil

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit drove 22.7 meters (74 feet) toward the southwest on the 1,861st Martian day, or sol, of Spirit's mission on Mars (March 28, 2009). After the drive, the rover took this image with its front hazard-avoidance camera, looking back at the tracks from the drive.

As usual since losing the use of its right-front wheel in 2006, Spirit drove backwards. The immobile right-front wheel churned up a long stripe of bright soil during this drive. Where Spirit has found such bright soil in the past, subsequent analysis of the composition found concentrations of sulfur or silica that testified to past action of water at the site. When members of the rover team saw the large quantity of bright soil exposed by the Sol 1861 drive, they quickly laid plans to investigate the composition with Spirit's alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

The Sol 1861 drive took the rover past the northwest corner of the low plateau called "Home Plate," making progress on a route around the western side of Home Plate. The edge of Home Plate forms the horizon on the right side of this image. Husband Hill is on the horizon on the left side. For scale, the parallel rover wheel tracks are about 1 meter (40 inches) apart. The rover's hazard-avoidance cameras take "fisheye" wide-angle images.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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