Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Space Travel News  




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



A Stellar Moment Frozen In Martian Time

Desktop available 1024 x 768
by Staff Writers
Pasadena (SPX) Jan 24, 2007
An image of sunset on Mars, taken by Spirit, won in a public poll. This contest, and other new multimedia pieces, help mark the twin rovers' third anniversary on the red planet. On May 19th, 2005, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit captured this stunning view as the Sun sank below the rim of Gusev crater on Mars. This Panoramic Camera (Pancam) mosaic was taken around 6:07 in the evening of the rover's 489th martian day, or sol.

Spirit was commanded to stay awake briefly after sending that sol's data to the Mars Odyssey orbiter just before sunset. This small panorama of the western sky was obtained using Pancam's 750-nanometer, 530-nanometer and 430-nanometer color filters.

This filter combination allows false color images to be generated that are similar to what a human would see, but with the colors slightly exaggerated.

In this image, the bluish glow in the sky above the Sun would be visible to us if we were there, but an artifact of the Pancam's infrared imaging capabilities is that with this filter combination the redness of the sky farther from the sunset is exaggerated compared to the daytime colors of the martian sky.

Because Mars is farther from the Sun than the Earth is, the Sun appears only about two-thirds the size that it appears in a sunset seen from the Earth.

The terrain in the foreground is the rock outcrop "Jibsheet", a feature that Spirit has been investigating for several weeks (rover tracks are dimly visible leading up to Jibsheet). The floor of Gusev crater is visible in the distance, and the Sun is setting behind the wall of Gusev some 80 km (50 miles) in the distance.

This mosaic is yet another example from MER of a beautiful, sublime martian scene that also captures some important scientific information. Specifically, sunset and twilight images are occasionally acquired by the science team to determine how high into the atmosphere the martian dust extends, and to look for dust or ice clouds.

Other images have shown that the twilight glow remains visible, but increasingly fainter, for up to two hours before sunrise or after sunset. The long martian twilight (compared to Earth's) is caused by sunlight scattered around to the night side of the planet by abundant high altitude dust.

Similar long twilights or extra-colorful sunrises and sunsets sometimes occur on Earth when tiny dust grains that are erupted from powerful volcanoes scatter light high in the atmosphere.

Related Links
MER Contest Images
Mars Rovers at JPL
Mars Rovers at Cornell
Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
Lunar Dreams and more



Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News


Spirit Studies Distinctive Rock Layers With Granules And Platy Beds
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jan 23, 2007
Spirit is healthy and continues to make progress on scientific studies of a rock exposure known as "Montalva," which is one of the lower layers of an outcrop known as "Troll." Compositional data that Spirit collected using the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer suggest the rock has high potassium content. To confirm this, scientists selected an adjacent exposure for further scrutiny.







  • Test Flights Of Angara Boosters To Start In 2010
  • Researchers Create New Class Of Compounds
  • India Delays Cryogenic Rocket Engine Test Two Weeks
  • India To Conduct Full-Duration Cryogenic Stage Test

  • SpaceWorks Engineering Releases Study On Emerging Commercial Transport Services To ISS
  • JOULE II Launches With Success At Poker Flat
  • Russia To Stop Spacecraft Launches From Far East In 2007
  • SpaceX Delays Launch, Faces New Problems With Static Fire Test



  • Expedition 14 Talks To Martha Stewart
  • NASA Says Destroyed Chinese Satellite Is No Threat To Space Station
  • International Space Station Heads Of Agencies Meet At ESA Headquarters
  • M-59 Drops Off The Shopping

  • Outstanding In-Orbit Performance Of The Terma Star Tracker On TacSat-2
  • Coalition For Space Exploration Names New Leadership
  • Chance For European Student To Join The NASA 2007 Summer Academy
  • Indian Space Capsule Back To Earth

  • China Seeks To Quell Fears Over Space Program
  • China's Manned Spacecraft To Carry Small Satellite
  • No Response From China On US Space Complaints Says White House
  • China Anti-Satellite Test Sparks Space Junk Outcry

  • Conceptualizing A Cyborg
  • Hunt On For Next World-Changing Gadget At US Electronics Show
  • NASA Awaits New FIRST Robotics Season
  • Futuristic Tools And Toys At Largest Consumer Electronics Show

  • A Stellar Moment Frozen In Martian Time
  • Spirit Studies Distinctive Rock Layers With Granules And Platy Beds
  • German HRSC Onboard Mars Express Now In Its Third Year
  • Opportunity Studies Cobbles And Rock Exposures Around 'Victoria Crater'

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright Space.TV Corporation. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space.TV Corp on any Web page published or hosted by Space.TV Corp. Privacy Statement