"Yes, I have been to Barsoom again ..." begins John Carter in Edgar Rice Burroughs' 1913 science fiction classic The Gods of Mars. In Burroughs' novels of Carter's adventures, "Barsoom" is the local name for Mars. The red planet continues to capture the imagination of science fiction writers and scientists alike and serves as an impetus for exploration.
NASA's Exploration Rover Spirit wintered on a small hill known as "Low Ridge," producing this 360-degree view of the Martian surface. There, the rover's solar panels tilted toward the sun to maintain enough solar power for Spirit to keep making scientific observations throughout the winter on southern Mars. This view of the surroundings from Spirit's "Winter Haven" is presented in exaggerated color to enhance color differences among rocks, soils and sand.
Spirit completed its 1,000th sol of what was planned as a 90-sol mission. (A sol is a Martian day, which lasts 24 hours, 39 minutes, 35 seconds). The rover has lived through the most challenging part of its second Martian winter and its solar power levels are rising again. Spirit's panaromic camera began shooting component images of this panorama during sol 814 (April 18, 2006) and completed the part shown here on sol 932 (Aug. 17, 2006).
Spirit has stayed busy at Winter Haven during the six-month Martian winter even without driving, acquiring significant new assessments of the elemental chemistry and mineralogy of rocks and soil targets within reach of the rover's arm.
Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell