Spectra of Two Places at Santa Maria Crater
This graph shows spectral information from orbital observations of two parts of Santa Maria Crater by the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Brightness of reflected sunlight is on the vertical axis, and wavelengths of light are on the horizontal axis. The red line is from observation of a spot about 18 meters (about 60 feet) across on the southeast rim of the crater. The blue line is from observation of a spot on the crater floor. The observation for the southeast rim suggests a hydrated sulfate. NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is approaching Santa Maria Crater in December 2010. The rover team plans to use the rover to investigate rock composition at the south east rim. Opportunity has seen hydrated sulfates during the rover's nearly seven years on Mars, but that type of mineral has never previously been detected from orbit at a site visited by Opportunity.
This is the first example of using mineral-detection information from orbit for making tactical plans about operating a Mars rover.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHU-APL