Monitor Spirit Landing Site for Aeolian Changes
Monitor Spirit Landing Site for Aeolian Changes
ESP_016677_1650  Science Theme: Aeolian Processes
This observation covers the Columbia Hills and the surrounding plains of Gusev Crater, which the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has been exploring since January 2004. Repeat images of this site have been acquired to study aeolian (wind-related) changes on the surface.

This image was acquired in February 2010, six months after the most recent prior image (ESP_014277_1650) and seven months after the most recent color image (ESP_013921_1650) of Spirit's location. During the intervening time, a significant regional dust storm blanketed Gusev crater, and bright Martian dust subsequently settled onto the surface. The surface around the Columbia Hills therefore appears brighter in this new image. However, numerous dark streaks are superposed on this surface; these are probably tracks left by dust devils migrating across the Gusev plains.

While driving around the "Home Plate" feature in the Columbia Hills, Spirit's wheels have excavated bright soils that were previously buried several centimeters beneath the Martian surface. These soils contain minerals such as sulfates and opaline silica that suggest past water activity at this location. The excavated soils are visible from orbit in previous HiRISE color images, where they appear as small, bright, blue-toned patches. These patches are all virtually invisible in the new HiRISE image, suggesting that the soils may have been buried by dust settling during the past few months.

Combining these orbital images with those taken by Spirit on the Martian surface provides a view of aeolian surface changes at a range of scales.

Written by: James Wray  (7 April 2010)
Acquisition date
15 February 2010

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
264.3 km (164.2 miles)

Original image scale range
26.6 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~80 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
57°, with the Sun about 33° above the horizon

Solar longitude
52.2°, Northern Spring

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  41.5°
Black and white
map projected  non-map

IRB color
map projected  non-map

Merged IRB
map projected

Merged RGB
map projected

RGB color
non-map projected

Black and white
map-projected   (660MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (436MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (375MB)
non-map           (357MB)

IRB color
map projected  (163MB)
non-map           (411MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (185MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (175MB)

RGB color
non map           (410MB)
B&W label
Color label
Merged IRB label
Merged RGB label
EDR products

IRB: infrared-red-blue
RGB: red-green-blue
About color products (PDF)

Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
For scale, use JPEG/JP2 black & white map-projected images

All of the images produced by HiRISE and accessible on this site are within the public domain: there are no restrictions on their usage by anyone in the public, including news or science organizations. We do ask for a credit line where possible:
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.