Spirit 16 Sols after Mid-Winter
Spirit 16 Sols after Mid-Winter
PSP_009174_1650  Science Theme: Future Exploration/Landing Sites
This image of the MER Spirit rover's location on Home Plate in the Columbia Hills of Gusev crater was acquired on Spirit's 1,607th sol (Mars day) on Mars, and approximately 16 sols after southern hemisphere mid-winter.

At about the same time that this image was taken by HiRISE, Spirit was acquiring a measurement of atmospheric "tau," a measure of the clarity of the atmosphere. On this sol the tau was at a value of 0.24 and on the sol of the previous HiRISE image (PSP_008963_1650), acquired precisely on the winter solstice, tau was slightly lower at 0.19. These values are close to the mean value of atmosphere clarity for winter and are considered very clear.

Most of the variation in atmospheric clarity is a result of differences in dust lofted into the atmosphere. During the previous summer, a large dust storm resulted in significantly dusty skies. On Spirit's sol 1293--near previous summer solstice HiRISE image PSP_005034_1650--another image was acquired during a significant dust storm when the tau was 2.9, among the higher values observed.

In this winter image, Spirit is visible as a large "rock" on the North edge of Home Plate, a two meter high, circular platform of sediments 80 meters across. Spirit casts a long shadow to the southeast because, even though the image was taken in mid-afternoon, it was near mid-winter when the sun is low in the sky. On the western edge of Home Plate, if one looks closely, one may see the tracks left as Spirit drove along the west side of Home Plate on its way north to its stop over place for Winter 3.

Written by: Larry Crumpler  (1 September 2008)

Acquisition date
11 July 2008

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
263.6 km (163.8 miles)

Original image scale range
26.6 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~80 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
64°, with the Sun about 26° above the horizon

Solar longitude
97.1°, Northern Summer

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North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  43.0°
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All of the images produced by HiRISE and accessible on this site are within the public domain: there are no restrictions on their usage by anyone in the public, including news or science organizations. We do ask for a credit line where possible:

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.