Spirit's Express Route to 'Columbia Hills'
This map illustrates the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit's position as of sol 112 (April 26, 2004), near the crater called "Missoula." Like a train on a tight schedule, Spirit will make regular stops along the way to its ultimate destination, the "Columbia Hills." At each stop, or "station," the rover will briefly analyze the area's rocks and soils. Each tick mark on the rover's route represents one sol's worth of travel, or about 60 to 70 meters (200 to 230 feet). Rover planners estimate that Spirit will reach the hills around mid-June. Presently, the rover is stopped at a site called "Plains Station."
The color thermal data show how well different surface features hold onto heat. Red indicates warmth; blue indicates coolness. Areas with higher temperatures are more likely to be rocky, as rocks absorb heat. Lower temperatures denote small particles and fewer rocks. During its traverse, Spirit will document the causes of these temperature variations.
The map comprises data from the camera on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor orbiter and the thermal emission imaging system on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/ASU/MSSS/Ames
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