This picture shows Gusev Crater. Spirit landed inside the yellow oval. The oval is 81 km (50 miles) long. The colors in this picture show how high (or low) the land is. Low places are shown as blue and green. High places are shown as orange and red.
Click on image for full size

MER Spirit landing site - Gusev Crater

Two robot rovers landed on Mars in January 2004. The first robot is named Spirit. Spirit landed inside a big crater called Gusev Crater.

Gusev Crater may have been filled with water long ago. It may have been a big lake. Spirit is a robot geologist. Some kinds of rocks form in places where there is water. Spirit is trying to find those kinds of rocks. If it does, that might prove that Gusev Crater really was a lake.

The only water that we know about on Mars right now is frozen - it is ice! Many scientists think Mars used to be warmer. They think there may have been liquid water on Mars in the past. Liquid water is good place to find life, especially microbes. If we find water on Mars, or clues about where there used to be water, that might help us figure out whether Mars ever had life.

Spirit has a twin named Opportunity. Opportunity landed at a different place on Mars named Meridiani Planum.

Gusev Crater is about 145 km (90 miles) wide. It is about as big as the state of Connecticut. There is a valley connected to Gusev Crater. The valley looks like it might have had a river in it long ago. Maybe Spirit will find rocks that formed in water!

Last modified February 8, 2004 by Randy Russell.

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