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Mars rover scientists smiling despite delay

Thursday, January 8, 2004

Rover looking at the sunset
Mars at an angle

This latest color "postcard from Mars," taken on Sol 5 by the panoramic camera on the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, looks to the north. The apparent slope of the horizon is due to the several-degree tilt of the lander deck. On the left, the circular topographic feature dubbed Sleepy Hollow can be seen along with dark markings that may be surface disturbances caused by the airbag-encased lander as it bounced and rolled to rest. A dust-coated airbag is prominent in the foreground, and a dune-like object that has piqued the interest of the science team with its dark, possibly armored top coating, can be seen on the right.


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The USGS Astrogeology team working on the current Mars project says that minor problems will delay their work, but spirits are still high following the successful landing of Spirit. The rover is not expected to start exploring Gusev Crater until Wednesday, three days later than expected. The air bags used to cushion the rover's landing are blocking the primary ramp, keeping the rover from rolling off the lander. NASA is working to deflate the bags further, but if that fails, the rover can roll off the lander using one of the two other ramps.

More: Arizona Daily Sun - Flag-based USGS team still upbeat despite delay

More: Arizona Daily Sun - Rover hits air-bag snag

Link: USGS Astro - Mars Exploration Rover Project

Link: JPL - Mars Exploration Rover Mission