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A mound of martian terrain rises, reminiscent of the Cahokia Mounds in Illinois, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where a Native American community thrived over a 1000 years ago. Spirit's time at Cahokia on Mars honors the past of Earth's people, while leaving a legacy of scientific flourishing to future generations.
This stunning image mosaic of the "Columbia Hills" shows a large
portion of the first 360-degree panorama taken after the Mars
Exploration Rover Spirit arrived at the hills in late August. Spirit valiantly trekked nearly two miles from Spirit's landing site to reach the Columbia Hills. The rover has been busy studying the rocks in the hills, which show evidence of past alteration by water. The dark patch of soil to the right is the spot where Spirit stopped for engineering work on its right front wheel. Spirit's tracks can be followed from there all the way back to "Bonneville Crater" and the original landing site, more than 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) away.
This approximate true-color image, nicknamed the "Cahokia panorama" after the Native American archaeological site near St. Louis, was acquired between sols 213 to 223 (Aug. 9 to 19, 2004). The full 360 degree panorama consists of 470 images acquired through six panoramic camera filters (750 to 480 nanometers). It took until the week of sol 237 (Sept. 2) to downlink all the data back to Earth. Several more weeks of image processing and geometric mapping by team members at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., were required to stitch all the images together into this spectacular mosaic.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell