1. Headline
  1. Headline
Spirit rover enxt to Bonneville Crater
NASA, JPL, Malin Space Science S
An image acquired by the Mars Global Surveyor and released Monday shows a dark dot identified as the rover Spirit next to giant Bonneville Crater and the thin dark line of its tracks leading back to its lander.
updated 9/27/2004 10:42:53 PM ET 2004-09-28T02:42:53

A spacecraft orbiting Mars photographed one of NASA's rovers and its tracks on the surface, the space agency said Monday.

The image made by a camera aboard the Mars Global Surveyor shows a dark dot identified as the rover Spirit next to giant Bonneville Crater and the thin dark line of its tracks leading back to its lander.

The picture was made by rolling the entire spacecraft, adjusting its rotation rate to match the ground speed under the camera, a process that produces sharper images.

The maneuver "is tricky and the spacecraft does not always hit its target. However, when it does, the results can be spectacular," said Ken Edgett, staff scientist for Malin Space Science Systems of San Diego, which built and operates the Mars Orbiter Camera.

  1. More from TODAY.com
    1. Matt Lauer in drag, Hoda as Yoda: 20 years of Halloween on TODAY

      No one does Halloween like TODAY. Relive two decades of awesome on the plaza as we rev up for 2014’s plaza bonanza.

    2. J.K. Rowling writes new Harry Potter tale for Halloween
    3. Woman in viral catcall video: Why we made the PSA
    4. Here's everything you need for a last-minute Halloween bash
    5. Accused Pennsylvania cop killer Eric Frein captured

Mars Global Surveyor reached Mars in 1997 and, after adjusting its orbit, began systematically mapping the planet in 1999. It has returned more than 170,000 images.

Its wide-angle camera photographs the entire planet daily. A narrow-angle camera is used to study specific features and prospective future landing locations.

In normal operations the spacecraft can pick out objects on the surface that are about 13 feet to 16 feet across. The roll technique allows objects as small as 4.9 feet to be seen.

The twin rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, are 4.9 feet high, 7.5 feet wide and 5.2 feet long.

Mars Global Surveyor has had a longer productive life than any other spacecraft sent to the Red Planet, according to managers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

This week, the spacecraft begins its third mission extension _ an extra two years funded with $15 million.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Get ready for today’s big reveal: Relive 20 years of Halloween on TODAY

    No one does Halloween like TODAY. Remember two decades of awesome on the plaza as we rev up for 2014’s plaza bonanza.

    10/23/2014 5:43:31 PM +00:00 2014-10-23T17:43:31
  2. video Celebs guess: Who will TODAY be for Halloween 2014?

    video Bob Harper, Russell Brand, Padma Lakshmi, William Shatner and more celebrities guess (and suggest!) what the anchors should be for the 2014 TODAY Halloween celebration on the plaza.

    10/30/2014 7:32:19 PM +00:00 2014-10-30T19:32:19
  3. Getty Images, AP, TODAY
  1. TODAY

    Woman in viral catcall video: Why we made the PSA

    10/31/2014 12:00:19 PM +00:00 2014-10-31T12:00:19
  1. TODAY

    video Accused Pennsylvania cop killer Eric Frein captured

    10/31/2014 11:27:52 AM +00:00 2014-10-31T11:27:52