Spirit Celebrates 1,000 Days on Mars

NASA’s Spirit Mars Exploration Rover recently celebrated its 1000th day on the surface of the Red Planet. To celebrate the occasion, NASA used the rover to capture a full 360-degree panorama view of Mars from its vantage point. The rover has been perched on the side of a hill for the last few months, to ride out the Martian winter’ reduced light. Spirit and Opportunity were both expected to only last 90 days on the surface of Mars.

NASA’s long-lived Mars Exploration Rover Spirit will finish its 1,000th Martian day Thursday, continuing a successful mission originally planned for 90 Martian days.

A color 360-degree panorama released today — produced from the most detailed imaging yet completed by either Spirit or its twin, Opportunity — shows rugged terrain of the robot’s current location amid a range of hills. The vista, dubbed the “McMurdo Panorama,” comes from Spirit’s panoramic camera and is available online at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mer/images/20061025.html .

Spirit has been examining the surroundings for several months while perched with a tilt to the north for maximum solar energy during winter in Mars’ southern hemisphere. The rover team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., plans to resume driving the rover in coming weeks as Martian spring approaches.

Spirit landed inside Mars’ Gusev Crater on Jan. 3, 2004, PST (Jan. 4 Universal Time). Each Martian day is longer than an Earth day, lasting 24 hours, 39 minutes, 35 seconds. That means that in Earth days, Spirit has been on Mars about 1,026 days.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Original Source: NASA/JPL News Release