When the Wind Blows

This 20-frame animation shows dust-laden winds blowing across the Martian plains near Spirit’s current position…which is the same position she’s been in for several weeks since becoming mired in the soft sand on the western edge of “Home Plate”. Regardless of her predicament, Spirit’s energy levels are in good supply due to these same winds…

Between Rocks and a Soft Place

  All dusted off and nowhere to go. The Mars Exploration Rover Spirit is still stuck in her current position west of the low plateau called “Home Plate”, with the MER team at JPL still trying to devise a way to get her moving again. The sands on the slopes of Home Plate have proven…

Badge of Honor

  While waiting for the Mars Exploration Rover team to get it unstuck from its current position, the Spirit rover turned its camera onto itself, highlighting the badge it proudly displays on its solar panel. With all of the spacecraft that have been launched into the heavens over the past half century or so, this…

Devil in the Skies

  Spirit captures a dust devil in the distance on camera in this image from a few days ago. I colorized it to enhance detail (and make it a little more “Mars-y”) from the original raw file. Dust devils are common this time of year at Spirit’s location. They are cause by warmer air near…

Waves of Sand

  Like rust-colored ocean waves frozen in mid-motion, miniature sand dunes sit at the base of Pioneer Mound in this panoramic image, taken by the Spirit rover last month and assembled here by James Canvin. Spirit has recently started traveling again after a two-week hiatus while engineers on the MER team tried to diagnose some…

On The Road Again

  The Mars Exploration Rover Spirit resumed driving this past Thursday after over two weeks of inactivity at its position northeast of Home Plate. The image above shows a small hill informally known as “Von Braun”, and will be investigated more in the months ahead. Spirit has been behaving erratically this month, resetting itself, forgetting…

Little Devil

  What looks to be a swirling dust devil is caught on camera in this raw image from the Mars rover Spirit. Dust devils on Mars are common, caused by heated air near the surface rising rapidly upwards in spinning columns, picking up dust and sand and propelled by the Martian winds. Although relatively gusty…

A Rusty Vista

  I combined five color images from the Spirit rover to make this panoramic view eastwards of its current position on the northwest edge of “Home Plate” (not visible here). The red Martian sands stretch on to the horizon, where a distant ridge rises. Raw image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Tearin’ Up the Tracks

White silicate-rich soil has been exposed beneath a rusty-red top layer by Spirit’s tires in this photo, taken last month while the rover tried to find a navigable path in the soft Martian sands. Silicate material like this hints at the presence of liquid water in the region’s past. The color here is as it…

Spirit-Eye View

This image shows the view from Spirit looking east from its position at the base of a low plateau called “Home Plate” (rising to the right). Loose soil and the loss of one of its six wheels has been posing a difficulty for the rover, and it has spent the past several days trying to…

A Distant Horizon

  Still one of the most compelling images taken by the Spirit exploration rover, this photo of the Sun setting behind distant mountains was taken on May 19, 2005. (In reality the “mountains” are actually the rim of a large crater.) The color here is pretty close to what a person would see were they…