New views show old NASA Mars landers

February 9, 2012 By Guy Webster
Near the lower left corner of this view is the three-petal lander platform that NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit drove off in January 2004. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

(PhysOrg.com) -- The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter recorded a scene on Jan. 29, 2012, that includes the first color image from orbit showing the three-petal lander of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit mission. Spirit drove off that lander platform in January 2004 and spent most of its six-year working life in a range of hills about two miles to the east.

Another recent image from HiRISE, taken on Jan. 26, 2012, shows NASA's and its surroundings on far-northern Mars after that spacecraft's second Martian arctic winter.  Phoenix exceeded its planned mission life in 2008, ending its work as solar energy waned during approach of its first Mars winter.

The image showing Spirit's lander platform as a small, bright feature southwest of Bonneville Crater is at photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA15038 . The new image of Phoenix is at photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA15039 .

This image, taken Jan. 26, 2012, shows NASA's no-longer-active Phoenix Mars Lander spacecraft after its second Martian arctic winter. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Previous color images from HiRISE have shown the Spirit rover itself, but all previous HiRISE views of the lander that delivered Spirit were in black and white.

Although neither Phoenix nor Spirit still send data to Earth, scientific findings from both missions continue as researchers analyze the wealth of data from the two. A recent report based on inspection of Martian soil particles with microscopes on Phoenix concluded that the soil has experienced very little interaction with liquid water over the past 600 million years or more.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been examining Mars with six science instruments since 2006. Now in an extended mission, the orbiter continues to provide insights into the planet's ancient environments and how processes such as wind, meteorite impacts and seasonal frosts are continuing to affect the Martian surface today. This mission has returned more data about Mars than all other orbital and surface missions combined.

Explore further: Photo from NASA Mars orbiter shows wind's handiwork

More information: More than 21,000 images taken by HiRISE are available for viewing on the instrument team's website: hirise.lpl.arizona.edu . Each observation by this telescopic camera covers several square miles, or square kilometers, and can reveal features as small as a desk.

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12 comments

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baudrunner
1 / 5 (2) Feb 09, 2012
There's a lot of information in that big sinkhole in the image. The dark strata below the surface suggests that life probably didn't evolve here, that what we see in Mars is just a cooled inner planet. Granted, that's an overgeneralized view, based on one location.

That doesn't mean that life hasn't been there, and if it has we are pretty much guaranteed to run into evidence of it sooner or later.
Eoprime
not rated yet Feb 09, 2012
There's a lot of information in that big sinkhole in the image. The dark strata below the surface suggests that life probably didn't evolve here...


Why? Sounds if the 'dark strata' is something evil, please enlighten me.
Ken_Jopp
not rated yet Feb 09, 2012
Let's see similar verification of the Apollo moon landings and put the "moon hoax" conspiracy theories to bed.
Blakut
not rated yet Feb 09, 2012
There's been tons of evidence that people were on the moon. The hoaxers will never let it go.
Anda
5 / 5 (1) Feb 09, 2012
Let's see similar verification of the Apollo moon landings and put the "moon hoax" conspiracy theories to bed.


Done yet
NMvoiceofreason
1 / 5 (1) Feb 10, 2012
The evidence is adding up to another hypothesis too.

Life evolved on Mars.

Asteroid impacts blew it off the surface and transported it to Earth.

Howls of protest that "Earth was First" may now begin.
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (1) Feb 10, 2012
How do we know that the above photographs weren't photoshopped?
Bob_Kob
Feb 10, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (1) Feb 10, 2012
You don't. Just as you don't know the image wasn't photoshopped.
Bob_Kob
Feb 10, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
fmfbrestel
1 / 5 (1) Feb 12, 2012
Not necessarily, NASA controls the raw data on those photos. Hypothetically, if there was a big enough conspiracy, the data from those photos could be faked and they could fake it well enough to be undetectable through analysis.

Now, NASA is actually very good about data integrity and transparency. It is a congressional mandated function of NASA to:
"provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information concerning its activities and the results thereof;"
WorldJunkie
5 / 5 (1) Feb 12, 2012
How do we know that the above photographs weren't photoshopped?

They were not. It's the aerial view of an actual lander in Death Valley, California :)

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