Beagle 2: Found on Mars After An 11 Year Hunt

The final chapter in the saga of a wayward Mars lander was finally revealed today, as an international team released images showing the Beagle-2 lander’s final resting place on Mars.

Flashback to Christmas Day, 2003. While most folks gathered ‘round the tree and opened presents, the UK and European Space Agency awaited a gift from space.  The Beagle-2 Mars lander had been released from the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter six days prior, and was coasting towards a perilous landing in Isidis Planitia and was set to phone home.

All was going according to plan, and then… silence.

It’s the worst part of any mission, waiting for a lander to call back and say that it’s safe and sound on the surface of another world. As the hours turned into days, anxious engineers used NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft and the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank to listen for the signal.

Beagle-2 was declared lost a few weeks later on February 6th, 2004.

But now, there’s a final twist to the tale to tell.

Beagle 2
Beagle 2, partially deployed on the Martian surface. Credit and Copyright: HiRISE/NASA/Leicester.

The UK Space Agency, working with ESA and NASA announced today that debris from the landing site had been identified and that indicates — contrary to suspicions — that Beagle-2 did indeed make it to the surface of the Red Planet intact. New images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter released today suggest that not only did Beagle-2 land, but that its airbags did indeed deploy properly and that the dish-shaped 1-meter in diameter spacecraft partially unfolded pocket-watch style after it had bounced to a stop.

“We are very happy to learn that Beagle 2 touched down on Mars,” said ESA’s Director of Science and Robotic Exploration in a recent press release. “The dedication of the various teams in studying high-resolution images in order to find the lander is inspiring.”

So, what went wrong with Beagle-2?

At this point, no further speculation as to what caused the lander to fall silent has been forthcoming, but today’s revelation is sure to rewrite the final saga of Beagle-2.

“Not knowing what happened to Beagle-2 remained a nagging worry,” said ESA’s Mars Express project manager Rudolf Schmidt. “Understanding now that Beagle-2 made it all the way down to the surface is excellent news.”

Speculation swirled across the internet earlier this week as the UK Space Agency and ESA suggested that new information as to the fate of Beagle-2 was forthcoming, over 11 years after the incident. Back in 2004, it was suggested that Beagle-2 had encountered higher levels of dust in the Martian atmosphere than expected, and that this in turn resulted in a failure of the spacecraft’s parachutes. Presumably, the lander then failed to slow down sufficiently and crashed on the surface of Mars, the latest victim of the Great Galactic Ghoul who seems to love dining on human-built spacecraft bound for the Red Planet.

Credit: ESA
An artist’s conception of Beagle-2 fully deployed on Mars. Credit: ESA.

The loss of Beagle-2 wasn’t only a blow to the UK and ESA, but to its principal investigator Colin Pillinger as well. Pillinger was involved in the search for Beagle-2 in later years, and also played a part in the Rosetta mission to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as well. Unfortunately, Pillinger passed away in May of last year from a brain hemorrhage. A portion of the western rim of Endeavour Crater currently being explored by Opportunity was named Pillinger Point in his honor.

Today’s announcement has triggered a wave of congratulations that the 11-year mystery has been solved. There have even been calls on Twitter and social media to rename the Beagle-2 site Pillinger Station.

“The history of of space exploration is marked by both success and failure,” Said Dr. David Parker, the Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency in a recent press release. “This finding makes the case that Beagle-2 was more of a success than we previously knew and undoubtedly an important step in Europe’s continuing exploration of Mars.”

Click here for the animated .gif version.
Evidence of the successful landing of Beagle-2. Click here for the animated .gif version. Credit: University of Leicester/Beagle 2/NASA/University of Arizona.

Beagle-2 is about 2 metres across unfurled, and came to rest within 5 kilometres of its target location.

There have been false announcements of the discovery of Beagle-2 before. Back in late 2005, a claim was made that the lander had been spotted by Mars Global Surveyor, though later searches came to naught.

“I can imagine the sense of closure that the Beagle-2 team must feel,” Said JPL’s MRO project scientist Richard Zurek in a recent press release. “MRO has helped find safe landing sites on Mars for the Curiosity and Phoenix missions and has searched for missing craft to learn what may have gone wrong. It’s an extremely difficult task.”

MRO entered orbit in March 2006 and carries a 0.5 metre in diameter HiRISE camera capable of resolving objects just 0.3 metres across on the surface of Mars.  The European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter that carried Beagle 2 is also still in operation, along with NASA’s aging Mars Odyssey spacecraft. These were joined in orbit by MAVEN and India’s Mars Orbiter just last year.

All rights reserved Beagle 2.
Beagle-2 encapsulated in the lab. All rights reserved, Beagle-2.

Of course, getting to Mars is tough, and landing is even harder. Mars has just enough atmosphere that you have to deal with it, but it’s so tenuous – 0.6% the surface pressure of Earth’s atmosphere at sea level – That it doesn’t provide a whole lot of usable drag.

To date, only NASA had successfully landed on Mars, and done it seven times – only the Mars Polar Lander failed back in 1999. The Russians fared much worse, with their most successful lander being Mars 3, which sent back only one blurry image before falling silent.

ESA and the Russian Federal Space Agency hope to amend that with the launch of the ExoMars mission next year, slated to land on Mars in 2018.

I remember waiting with millions of other space fans for word back from Beagle 2 on Christmas Day 2003. Think back to what your internet connection was like over 11 years ago, in an era before smart phones, Twitter and Facebook. We’d just come off of the spectacular 2003 Mars opposition season, which provided the orbital geometry ideal for launching a mission to the Red Planet. This window only comes around once every 26 months.

Though Beagle 2 was a stationary lander akin to the Viking and Mars Phoenix missions, it had a robotic arm and a clever battery of experiments, including ones designed to search for life. The signal it was supposed to use to call home was designed by the UK pop rock band Blur, a jingle that never came.

Alas, we’ll have to wait to see what the alien plains around Isidis Planitia actually look like, just 13 degrees north of the Martian equator. But hey, a lingering mystery of the modern age of planetary exploration was solved this week.

Still, we’re now left with a new dilemma. Does this mean we’ll have to write a sequel to our science fiction short story The Hunt for Beagle?

-Read free original science fiction from Dave Dickinson every Friday, including ongoing chapters from The Hunt for Beagle.

 

 

 

 

Haiku for Mars: Winners Selected for MAVEN Mission

Fans of Mars and spaceflight waxed poetic as the haiku selected to travel to Mars aboard the MAVEN spacecraft were announced earlier this month.

The contest received 12,530 valid entries from May 1st through the contest cutoff date of July 1st. Students learned about Mars, planetary exploration and the MAVEN mission as they composed haiku ranging from the personal to the insightful to the hilarious.

“The contest has resonated with people in ways that I never imagined! Both new and accomplished poets wrote poetry to reflect their views of Earth and Mars, their feelings about space exploration, their loss of loved ones who have passed on, and their sense of humor,” said Stephanie Renfrow, MAVEN Education & Public Outreach & Going to Mars campaign lead.

A total of 39,100 votes were cast in the contest; all entries receiving more than 2 votes (1,100 in all) will be carried on a DVD affixed to the MAVEN spacecraft bound for Martian orbit.

Five poems received more than a thousand votes. Among these were such notables as that of one 8th grader from Denver Colorado, who wrote;

                Phobos & Deimos

                          Moons orbiting around Mars

                                       Snared by Gravity

Another notable entry which was among the poems sited for special recognition by the MAVEN team was that of Allison Swets of Michigan;

                 My body can’t walk

                            My mouth can’t make words but I

                                         Soar to Mars today

377 artwork entries were also selected to fly aboard MAVEN as well.

Didn’t get picked? There’s still time to send your name aboard MAVEN along with thousands that have already been submitted. You’ve got until September 10!

Part of NASA’s discontinued Scout-class of missions, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN mission, or MAVEN, is due to launch out of Cape Canaveral on November 18th, 2013. Selected in 2008, MAVEN has a target cost of less than $500 million dollars US, not including launch carrier services atop an Atlas V rocket in a 401 flight configuration.

(Credit: NASA).
An artist’s concept of MAVEN in orbit around Mars (Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center).

The Phoenix Lander was another notable Scout-class mission that was extremely successful, concluding in 2008.

Principal investigator for MAVEN is the University of Boulder at Colorado’s Bruce Jakosky of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP).

The use of poetry to gain public interest in the mission is appropriate, as MAVEN seeks to solve the riddle that is the Martian atmosphere. How did Mars lose its atmosphere over time? What role does the solar wind play in stripping it away? And what is the possible source of that anomalous methane detected by Mars Global Surveyor from 1999 to 2004?

MAVEN is based on the design of the Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. It will carrying an armada of instruments, including a Neutral Gas & Ion Mass Spectrometer, a Particle and Field Package with several analyzers, and a Remote Sensing Package built by LASP.

MAVEN just arrived at the Kennedy Space Center earlier this month for launch processing and mating to its launch vehicle. Launch will be out of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on November 18th with a 2 hour window starting at 1:47 PM EST/ 18:47 UT.

MAVEN spacecraft at a Lockheed Martin clean room near Denver, Colo. (Credit: Lockheed Martin).
MAVEN spacecraft at a Lockheed Martin clean room near Denver, Colo. (Credit: Lockheed Martin).

Assuming that MAVEN launches at the beginning of its 20 day window, it will reach Mars for an orbital insertion on September 22, 2014. MAVEN will orbit the Red Planet in an elliptical 150 kilometre by 6,200 kilometre orbit, joining the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the European Space Agencies’ Mars Express and the aging Mars Odyssey orbiter, which has been surveying Mars since 2001.

The window for an optimal launch to Mars using a minimal amount of fuel opens every 24 to 26 months. During the last window of opportunity in 2011, the successful Mars Curiosity rover and the ill-fated Russian mission Phobos-Grunt sought to make the trip.

This time around, MAVEN will be joined by India’s Mars Orbiter Mission, launching from the Satish Dhawan Space Center on October 21st. If successful, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will join Russia, ESA & NASA in nations that have successfully launched missions to Mars.

This window comes approximately six months before Martian opposition, which next occurs on April 8th, 2014. In 2016, ESA’s ExoMars Mars Orbiter and NASA’s InSight Lander will head to Mars. And 2018 may see the joint ESA/NASA ExoMars rover and… if we’re lucky, Dennis Tito’s proposed crewed Mars 2018 flyby.

Interestingly, MAVEN also arrives in Martian orbit just a month before the close 123,000 kilometre passage of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring, although as of this time, there’s no word if it will carry out any observations of the comet.

These launches will also represent the first planetary missions to depart Earth since 2011. You can follow the mission as @MAVEN2Mars on Twitter. We’ll also be attending the MAVEN Conference and Workshop this weekend in Boulder and tweeting our adventures (wi-fi willing) as @Astroguyz. We also plan on attending the November launch in person as well!

And in the end, it was perhaps for the good of all mankind that our own rule-breaking (but pithy) Mars haiku didn’t get selected:

                        Rider of the Martian Atmosphere

                                  Taunting Bradbury’s golden-bee armed  Martians 

                                       While dodging the Great Galactic Ghoul

Hey, never let it be said that science writers make great poets!

Send Your Name and a Haiku Poem to Mars on a Solar Winged MAVEN

Do you want to go to Mars?

Well here’s your chance to get connected for a double barreled dose of Red Planet adventure courtesy of MAVEN – NASA’s next ‘Mission to Mars’ which is due to liftoff this November from the Florida Space Coast.

For a limited time only, NASA is offering the general public two cool ways to get involved and ‘Go to Mars’ aboard a DVD flying on the solar winged MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) orbiter.

You can send your name and a short poetic message to Mars via the ‘Going to Mars’ campaign being managed by the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (CU/LASP).

“Anybody on planet Earth is welcome to participate!” says NASA.

“The Going to Mars campaign offers people worldwide a way to make a personal connection to space, space exploration, and science in general, and share in our excitement about the MAVEN mission,” said Stephanie Renfrow, lead for the MAVEN Education and Public Outreach program at CU/LASP.

Signing up to send your name is easy. Simply click on the MAVEN mission website – here.

The MAVEN missions ‘Going to Mars’ campaign invites submissions from the public; artwork, messages, and names will be included on a special DVD. The DVD will be adhered to the MAVEN spacecraft and launched into orbit around Mars. (Courtesy Lockheed Martin)
The MAVEN missions ‘Going to Mars’ campaign invites submissions from the public; artwork, messages, and names will be included on a special DVD. The DVD will be adhered to the MAVEN spacecraft and launched into orbit around Mars. (Courtesy Lockheed Martin)

Everyone who submits their name will be included on a DVD that will be attached to the winged orbiter. And you can print out a beautiful certificate of participation emblazoned with your name!

Over 1 million folks signed up to send their names to Mars with NASA’s Curiosity rover. So they are all riding along as Curiosity continues making ground breaking science discoveries and already found habitats that could support potential Martian microbes.

Writing the haiku poem will require thought, inspiration and creativity and involves a public contest – because only 3 poems will be selected and sent to Mars. The public will vote for the three winning entries.

Haiku’s are three line poems. The rules state that “the first and last lines must have exactly five syllables each and the middle line must have exactly seven syllables. All messages must be original and not plagiarized in any way.”

The complete contest rules are found at the mission website – here:

This is a simple way for kids and adults alike to participate in humanity’s exploration of the Red Planet. And it’s also a great STEM activity for educators and school kids of all ages before this year’s school season comes to a close.

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“This new campaign is a great opportunity to reach the next generation of explorers and excite them about science, technology, engineering and math,” said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator from CU/LASP. “I look forward to sharing our science with the worldwide community as MAVEN begins to piece together what happened to the Red Planet’s atmosphere.”

MAVEN is slated to blast off atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Florida on Nov. 18, 2013. It will join NASA’s armada of four robotic spacecraft when it arrives at Mars during 2014.

MAVEN is the first spacecraft devoted to exploring and understanding the Martian upper atmosphere. The spacecraft will investigate how the loss of Mars’ atmosphere to space determined the history of water on the surface.

But don’t dawdle- the deadline for submissions is July 1.

So, sign up to ‘Go to Mars’ – and do it NOW!

Juice up your inner poet and post your ‘Haiku’ here – if you dare

Ken Kremer

Mars Armada Resumes Contact with NASA – Ready to Rock ‘n Roll n’ Drill

Curiosity accomplished historic 1st drilling into Martian rock at John Klein outcrop on Feb 8, 2013 (Sol 182), shown in this context mosaic view of the Yellowknife Bay basin taken on Jan. 26 (Sol 169) – back dropped with Mount Sharp – where the robot is currently working. Curiosity will bore a 2nd drill hole soon following the resumption of contact with the end of the solar conjunction period. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Ken Kremer/Marco Di Lorenzo
See drill hole and conjunction videos below[/caption]

After taking a well deserved and unavoidable break during April’s solar conjunction with Mars that blocked two way communication with Earth, NASA’s powerful Martian fleet of orbiters and rovers have reestablished contact and are alive and well and ready to Rock ‘n Roll ‘n Drill.

“Both orbiters and both rovers are in good health after conjunction,” said NASA JPL spokesman Guy Webster exclusively to Universe Today.

Curiosity’s Chief Scientist John Grotzinger confirmed to me today (May 1) that further drilling around the site of the initial John Klein outcrop bore hole is a top near term priority.

The goal is to search for the chemical ingredients of life.

“We’ll drill a second sample,” Grotzinger told Universe Today exclusively. Grotzinger, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., leads NASA’s Curiosity Mars Science Laboratory mission.

“We’ll move a small bit, either with the arm or the wheels, and then drill another hole to confirm what we found in the John Klein hole.”

Earth, Mars and the Sun have been lined up in nearly a straight line for the past several weeks, which effectively blocked virtually all contact with NASA’s four pronged investigative Armada at the Red Planet.

NASA’s Red Planet fleet consists of the Curiosity (MSL) and Opportunity (MER) surface rovers as well as the long lived Mars Odyssey (MO) and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) robotic orbiters circling overhead. ESA’s Mars Express orbiter is also exploring the Red Planet.

“All have been in communications,” Webster told me today, May 1.

The NASA spacecraft are functioning normally and beginning to transmit the science data collected and stored in on board memory during the conjunction period when a commanding moratorium was in effect.

“Lots of data that had been stored on MRO during conjunction has been downlinked,” Webster confirmed to Universe Today.

Curiosity and Mount Sharp: Curiosity's elevated robotic arm and drill are staring back at you - back dropped by Mount Sharp, her ultimate destination.  The rover team anticipates new science discoveries following the resumption of contact with NASA after the end of solar conjunction.  This panoramic vista of Yellowknife Bay basin was snapped on March 23, Sol 223 prior to conjunction and assembled from several dozen raw images snapped by the rover's navigation camera system.  These images were snapped after the robot recovered from a computer glitch in late Feb and indicated she was back alive and functioning working normally. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Marco Di Lorenzo/KenKremer (kenkremer.com).
Curiosity and Mount Sharp: Curiosity’s elevated robotic arm and drill stare back at you at the John Klein drill site – back dropped by mysterious Mount Sharp. The rover has resumed contact with NASA following the end of solar conjunction. This panoramic vista was snapped on March 23, 2013, Sol 223. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Marco Di Lorenzo/KenKremer (kenkremer.com)

And NASA is already transmitting and issuing new marching orders to the Martian Armada to resume their investigations into unveiling the mysteries of the Red Planet and determine whether life ever existed eons ago or today.

“New commanding, post-conjunction has been sent to both orbiters and Opportunity.”

“And the sequence is being developed today for sending to Curiosity tonight (May 1), as scheduled more than a month ago,” Webster explained.

“We’ll spend the next few sols transitioning over to new flight software that gives the rover additional capabilities,” said Grotzinger.

“After that we’ll spend some time testing out the science instruments on the B-side rover compute element – that we booted to before conjunction.”

Curiosity is at work inside the Yellowknife Bay basin just south of the Martian equator. Opportunity is exploring the rim of Endeavour crater at the Cape York rim segment.

Opportunity Celebrates 9 Years and 3200 Sols on Mars snapping this panoramic view from her current location on ‘Matijevic Hill’ at Endeavour Crater. The rover discovered phyllosilicate clay minerals and calcium sulfate veins at the bright outcrops of ‘Whitewater Lake’, at right, imaged by the Navcam camera on Sol 3197 (Jan. 20, 2013). “Copper Cliff” is the dark outcrop, at top center. Darker “Kirkwood” outcrop, at left, is site of mysterious “newberries” concretions. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Marco Di Lorenzo/Ken Kremer
Opportunity Celebrates 9 Years and 3200 Sols on Mars snapping this panoramic view from her current location on ‘Matijevic Hill’ at Endeavour Crater. The rover discovered phyllosilicate clay minerals and calcium sulfate veins at the bright outcrops of ‘Whitewater Lake’, at right, imaged by the Navcam camera on Sol 3197 (Jan. 20, 2013). “Copper Cliff” is the dark outcrop, at top center. Darker “Kirkwood” outcrop, at left, is site of mysterious “newberries” concretions. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Marco Di Lorenzo/Ken Kremer

Mars Solar Conjunction is a normal celestial event that occurs naturally about every 26 months. The science and engineering teams take painstaking preparatory efforts to insure no harm comes to the spacecraft during the conjunction period when they have no chance to assess or intervene in case problems arise.

So it’s great news and a huge relief to the large science and operations teams handling NASA’s Martian assets to learn that all is well.

Since the sun can disrupt and garble communications, mission controllers suspended transmissions and commands so as not to inadvertently create serious problems that could damage the fleet in a worst case scenario.

So what’s on tap for Curiosity and Opportunity in the near term ?

“For the first few days for Curiosity we will be installing a software upgrade.”

“For both rovers, the science teams will be making decisions about how much more to do at current locations before moving on,” Webster told me.

The Opportunity science team has said that the long lived robot has pretty much finished investigating the Cape York area at Endeavour crater where she made the fantastic discovery of phyllosilicates clay minerals that form in neutral water.

Signals from Opportunity received a few days ago on April 27 indicated that the robot had briefly entered a standby auto mode while collecting imagery of the sun.

NASA reported today that all operations with Opportunity was “back under ground control, executing a sequence of commands sent by the rover team”, had returned to normal and the robot exited the precautionary status.

Opportunity Celebrates 9 Years on Mars snapping this panoramic view of the vast expanse of 14 mile (22 km) wide Endeavour Crater from atop ‘Matijevic Hill’ on Sol 3182 (Jan. 5, 2013). The rover then drove 43 feet to arrive at ‘Whitewater Lake’ and investigate clay minerals. Photo mosaic was stitched from Navcam images and colorized. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Ken Kremer/Marco Di Lorenzo
Opportunity Celebrates 9 Years on Mars snapping this panoramic view of the vast expanse of 14 mile (22 km) wide Endeavour Crater from atop ‘Matijevic Hill’ on Sol 3182 (Jan. 5, 2013). The rover then drove 43 feet to arrive at ‘Whitewater Lake’ and investigate clay minerals. Photo mosaic was stitched from Navcam images and colorized. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Ken Kremer/Marco Di Lorenzo

“The Curiosity team has said they want to do at least one more drilling in Yellowknife Bay area,” according to Webster.

Curiosity has already accomplished her primary task and discovered a habitable zone that possesses the key ingredients needed for potential alien microbes to once have thrived in the distant past on the Red Planet when it was warmer and wetter.

The robot found widespread evidence for repeated episodes of flowing liquid water, hydrated mineral veins and phyllosilicates clay minerals on the floor of her Gale Crater landing site after analyzing the first powder ever drilled from a Martian rock.

Video Caption: Historic 1st bore hole drilled by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover on Sol 182 of the mission (8 Feb 2013). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Marco Di Lorenzo/Ken Kremer (http://www.kenkremer.com/)

During conjunction Curiosity collected weather, radiation and water measurements but no imagery.

Check out this wonderful new story at Space.com featuring Curiosity mosaics by me and my imaging partner Marco Di Lorenzo and an interview with me.

Ken Kremer

Curiosity Rover snapped this self portrait mosaic with the MAHLI camera while sitting on flat sedimentary rocks at the “John Klein” outcrop where the robot conducted historic first sample drilling inside the Yellowknife Bay basin, on Feb. 8 (Sol 182) at lower left in front of rover. The photo mosaic was stitched from raw images snapped on Sol 177, or Feb 3, 2013, by the robotic arm camera - accounting for foreground camera distortion. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Marco Di Lorenzo/KenKremer (kenkremer.com).
Curiosity Rover snapped this self portrait mosaic with the MAHLI camera while sitting on flat sedimentary rocks at the “John Klein” outcrop where the robot conducted historic first sample drilling inside the Yellowknife Bay basin, on Feb. 8 (Sol 182) at lower left in front of rover. The photo mosaic was stitched from raw images snapped on Sol 177, or Feb 3, 2013, by the robotic arm camera – accounting for foreground camera distortion. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Marco Di Lorenzo/KenKremer (kenkremer.com).

Watch this brief NASA JPL video for an explanation of Mars Solar Conjunction.

Driving Miss Spirit…

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Are you ready to take a fun journey? One with a little Spirit? Then don’t miss the Opportunity to take the Mars Rover out for a drive. NASA has introduced a new website release which gives you page after page of awesome slideshows and entertaining text. If you’re looking for a great way to spend a few hours – be it by yourself or with kids – then you’ve got to visit “Explore Mars: Spirit’s Journey”. Here are just a few examples of what you’ll encounter…

“The first pictures I sent back showed a land of strange, dark rocks. People all over the world flocked to their televisions and the Web to see these pictures.”

“My team sent me to a football-sized rock called “Adirondack.” It had very little dust covering it. It also had a smooth surface, making it easier for me to put my arm right against it.”

“It was a rocky road to Bonneville, but worth it. Craters are good to study because they show deeper layers in their walls. The deeper the layer, the older the record of what Mars was like earlier in its history.”

“Once I got to the hills, my team faced a tough challenge. No robot had ever hiked up a hill and they didn’t know how they would get me up this massive summit.”

“After almost six months since landing, finally! Signs of past water! As I hiked up the hills, I came across a knobby looking rock. My team called it “Pot of Gold,” because this rock contains a mineral called hematite.”

But this isn’t all to the pages… just a few stops! In “Explore Mars: Spirit’s Journey” you will also find a virtual journey in 3D, an “All About Mars” program, more information on the Mars Rovers and even the opportunity to become a Martian! It’s a very entertaining way to spend some time. Enjoy!