The Mars Spirit Rover descended on Mars on January 3rd in 2004. The time was between 7:00 PM and 8:35 PM PST. Together with the rover Opportunity, it has gone on to make several important findings.
The Gusev Crater
The craft settled on the Gusev crater. The site was chosen because it was believed to have been a lake sometime in the past. While no evidence of this has been discovered the site itself was important. It was able to provide scientists with the information they needed to setup additional target sites.
This area was part of the Mars Spirit Rover’s destination. It was primarily used as a base for taking shots of the sun. The name was derived from the fact that it sits on a depressed surface. It wasn’t too far from this site that a rock was grinded by the craft. The craft used a specially designed tool to carry out the task; the first in history.
Other Discoveries and Target Sites
Other sites that the craft visited and performed examinations on were Home Plate and near McCool Hill. It did not actually go to McCool Hill. Its wheel was broken, but it did get near enough to conduct examinations of the soil.
Other places that it had reached were Low Ridge Haven and Bonneville Crater. As the Mars Spirit Rover continued to make discoveries, it continually sent back pictures and images.
Mission Goals and Objectives
The craft was designed primarily for analyzing soil and rocks. Aside from checking their composition, looking for signs of water was also part of the mission. This can be determined from various clues. These include traces of evaporation and precipitation.
Another objective is to oversee the composition of minerals around select sites. Another goal is to determine elements that changed the landscape. The craft can identify causes like wind erosion, volcanic activity and various craters. The craft also looks for any minerals or rocks that contain iron and other chemical compositions.
The Mars Spirit Rover was also designed to take measurements. By measuring the various aspects, exploration would be easier to perform.
Scientists also want to use the craft to check for the geological conditions around the area. In particular it is used to determine if the site is suitable for water. As with other missions, searching for clues about possible life forms there is also included.
Facts and Figures
The craft measures 1.5 meters tall x 2.3 meters in width and about 1.6 meters in length. It has six wheels and weighs 400 lbs. The machine can move at a maximum of 50 mm per second. It uses a 20 MHz CPU and has 128 of physical memory. It comes with a panoramic camera, a spectrometer and a roving arm. This arm comes with several other tools including magnets and imagers.
The Mars Spirit Rover has gone a long way towards helping man understand the situation on the Red Planet. Its mission is scheduled to last for decades, so it will be providing more information in the coming years.