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Martian Views

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover mission has been the most successful journey to and across the red planet to date. The twin rovers, robotic geologists dubbed Spirit and Opportunity by a nine-year-old in Scottsdale, Ariz., who won a NASA-sponsored contest, have been on Mars since January 2004. As of July 1, Spirit was in its 532nd sol, or martian day (one sol is 40 minutes longer than one day on Earth), and Opportunity had reached sol 512.

Both rovers have traveled from their original landing sites (Spirit landed in Gusev Crater and Opportunity at Meridiani Planum), overcoming several trials and tribulations, such as getting stuck in Martian soils and running low on solar power because of dust. Each has photographed much of the approximate 5 kilometers of their individual journeys, sampled rocks including layered rocks and iron meteorites, and found hematite, goethite (hydrated iron oxide) and salty soils — indications that water may have been present on the rocky terrain in the planet’s geologic past.

Here is a small sampling of more than 86,000 images that have been returned by Spirit and Opportunity, showing everything from panoramic views of the Mars’ landscape to the impact crater created by Opportunity’s heat shield.

To see these images, please order a copy of the July issue of Geotimes by emailing customer service here.

Read past coverage of Mars in Geotimes here.

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