A.J.S. RaylSep 01, 2005

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Returns (Most of) Panorama from Summit of Husband Hill

Spirit has returned enough pictures from the summit [summit #1] of Husband Hill for the Mars Exploration Team to have put together a 240-degree color panorama of her view, which they released at a news conference today, held at NASA headquarters in Washington D.C. In coming days, the rover will return the rest of the images to complete the full, 360-degree, color panorama.

The "truly spectacular panorama" is "one of the signature accomplishments of the mission," rover lead scientist Steve Squyres said at the press conference.

Spirit took the color "postcard" above -- or 2-inch mini-panorama -- with her Panorama Camera on Sol 582 / August 23, 2005, just as she finally completed the long and winding, intrepid climb up Husband Hill. The "little rover that could" spent the last 14 months climbing the highest hill in the Columbia Hills, driving in both forward and reverse directions to reduce wear on her wheels.

The summit appears to be a windswept plateau of scattered rocks, little sand dunes and small exposures of outcrop. The breathtaking view here is toward the north, looking down into the drifts and outcrops of the Tennessee Valley, a region that Spirit was not able to visit during the climb to the top of the hill.

The approximate true-color panorama above is more of the soon-to-be 360-degree color panorama that Spirit 'snapped' after successfully hiking to the summit of Husband Hill. This breathtaking view from the summit reveals previously hidden terrain to the south, where team members hope to direct Spirit in the future.

Images: NASA / JPL / Caltech / Cornell

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