If men really
are from Mars (and women from Venus), they had some pretty impressive surroundings before populating Earth. Spirit & Opportunity: 10 Years Roving Across Mars is an exhibition at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., showcasing 50 hand-selected images of the exploration of Mars.
The two rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, have traveled more than 4.8 miles and 23.6 miles respectively, taking hundreds of thousands of images of the planet to help us learn more about Mars. In this collection of pics you’ll find incredible landscapes (that look just like Earth!), beautiful color and stunning sunsets. Sadly, no martians made it into this photographic collection.
The piece of metal with the American flag on it is made of aluminum recovered from the site of the World Trade Center towers in New York City. It serves as a cable guard for Spirit’s rock abrasion tool as well as a memorial to the victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Opportunity has an identical piece.
These loose, BB-sized, hematite-rich spherules are embedded in this Martian rock like blueberries in a muffin and released over time by erosion. The Mars Rover Opportunity found this cluster of them at its Eagle Crater landing site and analyzed their composition with its spectrometers. Hypotheses about their formation have contributed to the story of water on Mars.
Tiny spherules pepper a sandy surface in this 3-centimeter (1.2-inch) square view of the Martian surface. The largest one is broken in half and shows little internal texture—typical of these “blueberries” on the Meridiani Plains. Opportunity took this image while the target was shadowed by the rover’s instrument arm.
This was one of the first images of the sulfate-rich outcrops on the Meridiani Plains of Mars to show a broken spherule, or “blueberry” (below center). The spherules do not deflect the crosswise layers of finer sediments, indicating that the spherules and sediments were not deposited at the same time. The image shows a 3-centimeter (1.2-inch) square section of the rock Robert E in Eagle Crater.
Rover tracks disappear toward the horizon like the wake of a ship across the desolate sea of sand between the craters Endurance and Victoria on the Meridiani Plains. Opportunity took the image while stuck in the sand ripple dubbed Purgatory for over a month. This panorama (only partly shown here) was named Rub Al Khali after the “Empty Quarter” in the Arabian Desert.
Ralph Bagnold, an early pioneer of dune studies, remarked that—compared to the nearly static chaos that seems to characterize slowly crumbling, weathering landscapes—sand dunes can “move inexorably, in regular formation, over the surface of the country, growing, retaining their shape, even breeding, in a manner which by its grotesque imitation of life, is vaguely disturbing to an imaginative mind.” Perhaps more so, if we’re on Mars?