Mars rover Spirit ("Spirit", "The Spirit") has not even left his landing platform and the leaders of his mission are already saying that some of its main scientific objectives are close to a successful conclusion.
For example, Spirit failed to detect signs of the presence of minerals in Gusev Crater, which may indicate that Mars in the past, it was quite enough water for the development of living organisms. In addition, on January 12 NASA issued a circular first color panorama of the surface obtained from the board of the rover. Its assembled from 225 separate images.
In the eyes of the layman, the first images taken by the mini-thermal emission spectrometer (TES — mini-Thermal Emission Spectrometer) Spirit, of course, is not as spectacular as color panorama, but this device which detects infrared radiation and is able to determine the composition of the soil and nearby rocks confidently awaited shows evidence of carbonates and hydrated (containing water molecules in the bound form) minerals. And then, and more generally suggests (though there are exceptions) on the long-term presence in the past in these places of vast masses of water (there is an assumption that in the Gusev crater was once a lake, that's why he was elected as the first target for the U.S. "rovers ").
The spectra obtained Spirit, compared with the data from the spacecraft, conducted the study with the Martian orbit, and with the data obtained from Earth. "We are thrilled with how well they fit together," — said Phil Christensen (Phil Christensen) from the University of Arizona, one of the developers of this wonderful instrument.
Spirit landing occurred in a place that is very different from all the previous three U.S. landing sites on Mars (Viking 1, Viking 2, and Pathfinder). For example, in previous cases, about 20 percent of the surface was occupied by boulders. Around the Spirit Stones, only three percent. This is — the good news, because it will be easier to move cross-country vehicle, and he will be able to explore more goals.
Soon Spirit is deployed to 120 degrees and descend to the surface of the planet in the late evening on Wednesday, January 14. The first data about travel along the ground due to arrive on Thursday, and the first data on the composition of rocks — late Friday night.