A Flyby Tour of Spirit's Descent
December 19, 2004
Telemetry sent down to Earth from the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has been reconstructed to create this reenactment of the rover's final 30 seconds before landing at Gusev Crater, Mars. Just seconds before the rover touched down and its airbags were inflated, a gust of wind threatened to significantly increase the rover's horizontal speed. But the firing of a lateral rocket, called the Tranverse Impulse Rocket System (blue), kept the rover on course, orienting the main retrorockets (white) to the their correct upright position. Subsequent igniting of these rockets reduced the rover's speed to near zero, 23 feet (7 meters) above the martian surface. The colored bars to the right indicate Spirit's north, east and downward velocities. The telemetry was acquired through the Mars Global Surveyor.