The Weekend Image: Mars Spirit Rover’s Last Memory

  Spirit rover last panoramic of Mars

This was the last panorama Spirit transmitted to Earth, on its 2,175th sol on Mars. (A sol is a Martian day, and it is 3 percent longer than an Earth day.) The rover's final transmission came just 35 sols later, on March 22, 2010. With its wheels mired in soft sand as it was driving toward von Braun Hill, it was unable to turn its solar panels toward the sun to gather sufficient sun through a particularly harsh Martian winter. NASA tried to raise the rover for more than a year before officially giving up last week. Its twin, Opportunity, is still trasmitting on the other side of Mars.

The panorama includes the Columbia Hills, each named for the astronauts who perished in the 2003 Columbia accident, and a hill nicknamed von Braun — the hill with the light-colored peak near the top center of the image, according to Robert Nemiroff of Michigan Tech and Jerry Bonnell of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. The von Braun hill and a related feature named Goddard could be the result of past volcanic activity on Mars, which was also evident in the soft sulfate-rich deposits that caused Spirit's wheels to get stuck.

The Daily Galaxy via NASA/APOD


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