Tell me about this picture

Because so many of my books for young readers discuss the exploration of Mars, I often imagine what it would be like to be there.

So I chose this Mars panorama from the NASA Photojournal pages photographed by the redoubtable Rover Spirit to grace my blog. (See

Here is the caption from that page:

The panoramic camera on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit took the hundreds of images combined into this 360-degree view, the “Husband Hill Summit” panorama. The images were acquired on Spirit’s sols 583 to 586 (Aug. 24 to 27, 2005), shortly after the rover reached the crest of “Husband Hill” inside Mars’ Gusev Crater. This is the largest panorama yet acquired from either Spirit or Opportunity. The panoramic camera shot 653 separate images in 6 different filters, encompassing the rover’s deck and the full 360 degrees of surface rocks and soils visible to the camera from this position. This is the first time the camera has been used to image the entire rover deck and visible surface from the same position. Stitching together of all the images took significant effort because of the large changes in resolution and parallax across the scene.

The image is an approximately true-color rendering using the 750-nanometer, 530-nanometer and 480-nanometer filters for the surface, and the 600-nanometer and 480-nanometer filters for the rover deck. Image-to-image seams have been eliminated from the sky portion of the mosaic to better simulate the vista a person standing on Mars would see.

This panorama provided the team’s first view of the “Inner Basin” region (center of the image), including the enigmatic “Home Plate” feature seen from orbital data. After investigating the summit area, Spirit drove downhill to get to the Inner Basin region. Spirit arrived at the summit from the west, along the direction of the rover tracks seen in the middle right of the panorama. The peaks of “McCool Hill” and “Ramon Hill” can be seen on the horizon near the center of the panorama. The summit region itself is a broad, windswept plateau. Spirit spent more than a month exploring the summit region, measuring the chemistry and mineralogy of soils and rocky outcrops at the peak of Husband Hill for comparison with similar measurements obtained during the ascent.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell