Spirit Lightens the Load
December 19, 2004
The history of Spirit's descent and landing on the surface of Mars is recorded in this image taken more than two weeks later on Jan. 19, 2004, by the camera on the orbiting Mars Global Surveyor. Spirit landed on Jan. 3, 2004. The two dots in the upper left are the spacecraft's backshell and parachute, which were shed as Spirit's bridle was cut, allowing the lander to bounce to a rest while safely encased in airbags. The white dot near the bottom of the image is the lander, also known as the Columbia Memorial Station, at the Gusev Crater landing site. The lander appears white to the camera because sunlight is hitting the lander's highly reflective surface, causing contrast between the lander and the surrounding martian terrain. This image was taken in the early martian afternoon.
Topics: Lander, Mars, Spacecraft, Mars Polar Lander, Mars Exploration Rover, Spirit rover, Spaceflight