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Spirit Rolls Off the Lander

Thursday, January 15, 2004

image of spirt looking back a the lander package
Spirit Looks Back

This image from the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit's rear hazard identification camera shows the rover's hind view of the lander platform, its nest for the past 12 sols, or martian days. The rover is approximately 1 meter (3 feet) in front of the airbag-cushioned lander, facing northwest. Note the tracks left in the martian soil by the rovers' wheels, all six of which have rolled off the lander. This is the first time the rover has touched martian soil.


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NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit successfully drove off its lander platform and onto the soil of Mars early today. The robot's first picture looking back at the now-empty lander and showing wheel tracks in the soil set off cheers from the robot's flight team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Since Spirit landed inside Mars' Gusev Crater on Jan. 3 (PST and EST; Jan. 4 Universal Time), JPL engineers have put it through a careful sequence of unfolding, standing up, checking its surroundings and other steps leading up to today's drive-off.

More: JPL - Spirit Rolls All Six Wheels onto Martian Soil