Latest Columbia Hills Stories
The hunt for a confirmed source of ancient water on the Red Planet may be over (or just beginning), at least for one group of scientists. Mars scientists looking at old data provided by NASA’s Spirit, one of the two rovers...
On a plain that stretches for miles in every direction, the panoramic camera on NASA's Mars rover Opportunity has caught a first glimpse on the horizon of the uplifted rim of the big crater that has been Opportunity's long-term destination for six months.
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has discovered evidence of an ancient volcanic explosion at "Home Plate," a plateau of layered bedrock approximately 2 meters (6 feet) high within the "Inner Basin" of Columbia Hills, at the rover's landing site in Gusev Crater.
This 360-degree view, called the "McMurdo" panorama, comes from the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit. From April through October 2006, Spirit has stayed on a small hill known as "Low Ridge."
Spirit, the untiring robotic "wonder child" sent by NASA to explore the eerily earthlike fourth planet from the sun, has completed one martian year -- that's almost two Earth years -- on Mars. During Spirit's martian year, the seasons have changed from summer to winter and back again.
Spirit, the mountaineering rover that successfully scaled a Martian hill this summer, is searching for flatter ground. After two months at the summit of Husband Hill, the six-wheeled rover is making its descent toward a basin to the south where it will explore an outcrop dubbed "home plate" that looks like a baseball diamond from orbit.
Working atop a range of Martian hills, NASA's Spirit rover is rewarding researchers with tempting scenes filled with evidence of past planet environments. The summit sits 82 meters (269 feet) above the edge of the surrounding plains. It is 106 meters (348 feet) higher than the site where Spirit landed nearly 20 months ago.
NASA's Mars rover Opportunity is trying to escape from a sand trap, while its twin, Spirit, has been busy finding new clues to a wet and violent early Martian history.
Spirit has been getting a workout trying to climb the most difficult terrain encountered so far by the two rovers that landed on Mars in 2004. Like a hiker walking on loose scree, the rover's wheels began to slip near the top of the "Columbia Hills."
Since arriving at the Columbia Hills, Spirit, one of the Mars Exploration Rovers, has encountered some mysterious phenomena. But the biggest mystery of the Columbia Hills may lie in the angled rock outcrops that Spirit has found in the vicinity of "Larry's Lookout" on Husband Hill.
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