Wednesday, December 06, 2006

More landers spotted on Mars

Further extraordinary images have arrived from Mars that show not only the presently operating Spirit rover (Opportunity was photographed several months ago) but the Viking landers as well. Shot from the orbiting Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the image of the Viking 1 lander also shows the discarded spacecraft shell lying some 260 meters from the lander and most amazingly, what may well be its parachute. It is planned to use the MRO to photograph other past landers in the coming months, some successful, some not. Next in line is likely to be the plucky little Mars Pathfinder, which paved the way for the highly successful Spirit and Opportunity, and of course it almost goes without saying that efforts will be made to find the resting place of the ill-fated UK mission, Beagle 2. Other lost probes that will be searched for are Nasa's Mars Polar Lander, and the Soviet craft Mars 2, Mars 3 and Mars 6. You can view the latest pictures here.