NASA Posts Panorama To Celebrate Rover's 1,000th Martian Day
NASA's long-lived Mars Exploration Rover Spirit will finish its 1,000th Martian day Thursday, continuing a successful mission originally planned for 90 Martian days.
A color 360-degree panorama released today -- produced from the most detailed imaging yet completed by either Spirit or its twin, Opportunity -- shows rugged terrain of the robot's current location amid a range of hills. The vista, dubbed the "McMurdo Panorama," comes from Spirit's panoramic camera and is available online at
Spirit has been examining the surroundings for several months while perched with a tilt to the north for maximum solar energy during winter in Mars' southern hemisphere. The rover team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., plans to resume driving the rover in coming weeks as Martian spring approaches.
Spirit landed inside Mars' Gusev Crater on Jan. 3, 2004, PST (Jan. 4 Universal Time). Each Martian day is longer than an Earth day, lasting 24 hours, 39 minutes, 35 seconds. That means that in Earth days, Spirit has been on Mars about 1,026 days.
And yes, the rover team really did have to worry about the "Sol 1K Problem." When the rovers were designed, no one realistically thought that they would last more than a few hundred days. So the data structures, file systems, command structures, etc. were all designed the three-digit Sol counts. Well, the rovers surprised us, and Spirit has now crossed over the 1000-Sol threshold (Opportunity will do the same in three more weeks). In anticipation of that, we had to go back and check all the rover and ground support software to be sure that there would not be any unexpected surprises when the chronometer clicked over. But as of this evening, everything looks just fine and we are all set to trundle on through the next 1000 Sols....