Mars Panoramas

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McMurdo

Image date: 25 October 2006
Image courtesy: NASA/JPL/Cornell
This 360-degree view, called the McMurdo panorama, comes from the panoramic camera on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit. From April through October 2006, Spirit has stayed on a small hill known as Low Ridge. There, the rover's solar panels are 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 approximately true color, it is the rover team's best estimate of what the scene would look like if we were there and able to see it with our own eyes.

The Pancam began shooting component images of this panorama during Spirit's sol 814 (April 18, 2006) and completed the part shown here on sol 932 (Aug. 17, 2006). The overall panorama consists of 1,449 Pancam images and represents a raw data volume of nearly 500 megabytes.

On the right, "Husband Hill" on the horizon, the rippled "El Dorado" sand dune field near the base of that hill, and lighter-toned "Home Plate" below the dunes provide context for Spirit's travels since mid-2005. Left of center, tracks and a trench dug by Spirit's right-front wheel, which no longer rotates, have exposed bright underlying material. This bright material is evidence of sulfur-rich salty minerals in the subsurface, which may provide clues about the watery past of this part of Gusev Crater.

Spirit has stayed busy at Winter Haven during the past six months even without driving. In addition to acquiring this spectacular panorama, the rover team has also acquired significant new assessments of the elemental chemistry and mineralogy of rocks and soil targets within reach of the rover's arm.

See also: Color stereo version.