Photo shows lander on Mars from 2004

Feb. 9, 2012 at 5:56 PM
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GREENBELT, Md., Feb. 9 (UPI) -- NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured the first color image from orbit of the three-petal lander of NASA's 2004 Rover Spirit mission, scientists say.

Spirit drove off the Mars Expedition lander platform in January of that year and spent most of its six-year working life in a range of hills about two miles to the east, NASA said in a release Thursday.

The lander still appears as a bright spot in the image but has taken on a reddish color, likely from the accumulation of Martian dust, scientists said.

Spirit's lander platform can be seen in the image as a small, bright feature southwest of Bonneville Crater, they said.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been orbiting Mars with six science instruments since 2006 and is now an extended mission to observe how processes such as wind, meteorite impacts and seasonal frosts are continuing to affect the Martian surface today.

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