Latest panorama from Mars is here. It was taken by one of two Rovers that
have been driving around on Mars for two years and three months; one year
and three months past their estimated life span.
In the below notice the dark furrowed line in the middle. That is
because Spirit’s right front tire is broken and frozen. Interestingly, it
has become a geological tool that reveals soil composition. If you download the large version of the this photo and zoom in, you’ll see the
tire tracks from the good side of Sprit on the left of the furrow.
But who? Or what? You might ask, took this photo of the Rover?
Because of course we don’t have any people on Mars to take photos, and we
sent the Rovers to opposite sides of Mars to explore most efficiently.
The photo is a synthetic image of the Spirit Rover. It was created using
a 3-D model of the rover and a real image of Mars taken by Spirit.
The thing on the white pole is Spirit’s camera, with two lenses enabling
photos with depth. Rovers are about the size of a golf cart. The round
dish on the left is how the Rovers send photos and data back to Earth.
They have a rock abrasion tool on the front. In a bizarre twist of fate,
heretofore unknown dust devils on Mars have been cleaning their solar
panels and helping the Rovers last longer. Soon they will limp along no
more and their signals will fade away as they freeze up and stop working.
In 2004 the Rover project won Science Magazine’s “Breakthrough of the
Year” award for finding proof that Mars had a wet past. The rovers are the
most successful space geologists we have made to date.