Spirit continues to return
If a Hollywood screenwriter had crafted the scenes for the last few days of the Spirit Mission Team at JPL as they really happened -- success after success, triumphant image after triumph he or she would be out of a job.
With additional data due later today and early tomorrow morning, the mission team is hoping to receive and piece together the first color picture perfect panoramic postcard -- from the PanCam, a high resolution stereo vision camera -- for the briefing tomorrow.
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.
Spirit spent a quiet, cold night in Gusev Crater, and woke up to return streams of new data, including more black and white 'postcards' from Mars.
Spirit – the first of NASA's two robot geologists en route to the red Planet -- is “in “excellent” health, NASA and JPL scientists reported at a news briefing at JPL this afternoon, and the countdown to touch down on the Red Planet has begun.