Emily LakdawallaJan 14, 2014

Blast from the past: Spirit sunrise panorama at Troy

In honor of the 10th anniversary of Spirit's landing on Mars, here is a new view from near the end of that mission. Spirit took in this panoramic view of Home Plate and surroundings on sol 1984 (August 2, 2009), while stuck in the quagmire at Troy.

Spirit sunrise panorama at Troy
Spirit sunrise panorama at Troy Spirit took this panorama on sol 1984 (2 August 2009) at a local time of 7:00 a.m. The Sun had risen at 05:47. The originally black-and-white panorama has been hand-colored based on the colors from another, full-color panorama taken at a different time of day.Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Cornell / Damia Bouic / Don Davis

This unusual view started out as a Navcam panorama, taken as part of an "illumination experiment" where they commanded Spirit to capture images at many different times of day. The low angle of the near-dawn light highlights subtle textures in the rocks. Don Davis hand-colored the panorama based upon information from a Pancam pan taken at a different time of day, making this an artist's impression of the sunrise view from Spirit's final resting place.

I have strongly conflicting feelings as I look at this photo. Dawn implies new beginnings. But that track gouged in the sand led to Spirit's grave. The rising summer sun drenched the rover's panels in power; at the time this photo was taken, the rover was generating more than 900 watt-hours. In comparison, Opportunity now gets only 360 from the wan winter sun shining on her panels. Yet, despite all that power, Spirit couldn't wrench herself free of the sand trap.

For more great images, videos, activities, and other fun related to the 10th anniversary, check out The Planetary Society's Rover Party website.

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