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Sundial Lands on Mars
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Sundial Lands on Mars

December 16, 2004
Two views of a sundial called the MarsDial can be seen in this image taken on Mars by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit's panoramic camera. These calibration instruments, positioned on the solar panels of both Spirit and the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, are tools for both scientists and educators. Scientists use the sundial to adjust the rovers' panoramic cameras, while students participating in NASA's Red Rover Goes to Mars program will monitor the dial to track time on Mars. Students worldwide will also have the opportunity to build their own Earth sundial and compare it to that on Mars.

The left image was captured near martian noon when the Sun was very high in the sky. The right image was acquired later in the afternoon when the Sun was lower in sky, casting longer shadows. The colored blocks in the corners of the sundial are used to fine-tune the panoramic camera's sense of color. Shadows cast on the sundial help scientists adjust the brightness of images.

The sundial is embellished with artwork from children, and displays the word Mars in 17 different languages.