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Spirit Photographs Her Underbelly, SOL 1925

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


This panorama of images from the Spirit rover, taken on Sol 1925 (June 2, 2009), is helping engineers assess the rover's current state and plan her extraction from the soft soil in the region now called "Troy." The images were taken by Spirit's Microscopic Imager (MI) instrument, mounted on the end of her robotic arm. The MI science investigation is led by Ken Herkenhoff of the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff.

This is the first time the MI has been used to assist in planning a rover's escape from an embedding event. The MI isn't intended to take these types of images--it is designed to focus on targets only 6 centimeters (2.4 inches) in front of its optics. As a result, the images in this mosaic are well out of focus. Yet despite the focus and the backlighting of the scene, Joel Hagen (Modesto Jr. College) and colleagues at NASA's Ames Research Center in California were able process the images to bring out the details shown here. The mosaic shows the underside of the rover, the depth to which the wheels are embedded and the terrain itself in sufficient detail to assess the rover's state.


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