Opportunity rolled off her lander and onto the dark red Martian soil at Meridiani Planum early Saturday morning, at about 1:50 a.m., Pacific Standard Time, just one week after the robot field geologist arrived on the Red Planet.
Although it did appear from the very first images returned that the second Mars Exploration Rover had landed inside a small crater when it arrived at Meridiani Planum last Saturday night, that belief was confirmed with further analysis yesterday.
The second Mars Exploration Rover -- Opportunity -- Spirit's identical twin -- is approaching the atmosphere of Mars and is expected to land on the Red Planet tonight around 9:06 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.
Spirit 'phoned home' this morning and returned some good engineering data, but the Mars rover remains in "intensive care," as members of a newly formed anomaly team scramble to find out what caused the glitch two days ago -- and how to fix it.
Spirit ventured out yesterday, driving nearly 10 feet (about 3 meters) to its first target -- a football-sized rock that scientists have dubbed Adirondack. Meanwhile, Spirit's twin, Opportunity, successfully completed its first trajectory correction maneuver (TCM) in four months.
Spirit -- NASA's first Mars Exploration Rover -- survived the 'six minutes of terror' entering and descending through the atmosphere to land safely -- and upright -- in Gusev Crater on the Red Planet. Just two hours after the confirmation signal of the landing, the first engineering data and images began streaming into the MER Mission Control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where Spirit and her twin, Opportunity were built.