Status Report

NASA Mars Picture of the Day: Mars Global Surveyor’s View of Gusev Crater During Spirit’s Entry, Descent, and Landing

By SpaceRef Editor
January 7, 2004
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Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-598, 7 January 2004

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

When the Mars Exploration Rover (MER-A), Spirit, was landing
on 4 January 2004 (3 January 2004, PST), Mars Global Surveyor (MGS)
was in position above the region to receive the critical entry,
descent, and landing data via ultra high frequency (UHF) radio
transmission to the MGS Mars Relay (MR) system. Data from the
MR antenna are stored in the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) computer
until they are transmitted to Earth. The transmission from
Spirit on 4 January 2004 occurred in real time, as the rover
descended, bounced, and rolled to a stop.

At the same time that MGS was receiving data during Spirit’s
landing, the MGS MOC obtained this oblique wide angle view looking east
across the martian surface toward Gusev Crater, the site
where the MER-A landed. The image on the right is labeled to
show the location
of Gusev Crater; the arrow points approximately to the place
that Spirit touched down.
The 165 km (103 mi) diameter Gusev Crater and the Spirit landing site
are located near 14.7°S, 184.6°W. In this view, sunlight
is coming from the bottom (west).

For additional information about the Spirit landing site, see:

Malin Space Science Systems and the California Institute of Technology
built the MOC using spare hardware from the Mars Observer mission.
MSSS operates the camera from its facilities in San Diego, California.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Mars Surveyor Operations Project
operates the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft with its industrial
partner, Lockheed Martin Astronautics, from facilities in Pasadena,
California and Denver, Colorado.

SpaceRef staff editor.