Mars Panoramas

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Spirit's McMurdo Winter Panorama (Labeled)

Image date: 5 February 2007
Image courtesy: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell
Since April of 2006, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has been sojourning in a place called "Winter Haven," where the robotic geologist spent several months parked on a north-facing slope in order to keep its solar panels pointed toward the sun. During that time, while the rover spent the daylight hours conducting as much scientific research as possible, science team members assigned informal names to rock outcrops, boulders, and patches of soil commemorating exploration sites in Antarctica and the southernmost islands of South America. Antarctic bases are places where researchers, like the rovers on Mars, hunker down for the winter in subzero temperatures. During the past Martian winter, Spirit endured temperatures lower than minus 100 degrees Celsius (minus 148 degrees Fahrenheit).

This full-color mosaic of images acquired by the rover's panoramic camera shows the various features of the landscape near Spirit's "Winter Haven" and the informal names used to identify them. With Martian spring just around the corner and solar power levels on the rise, Spirit has been driving again. Scientists hope to return to the circular, plateau-like feature known as "Home Plate," though it will take some weeks to get there with a dragging right front wheel after visiting other points of scientific interest along the way.