NASA's spirit rover is starting to examine its new surroundings, revealing a vast flatland well suited to the robot's unprecedented mobility and scientific toolkit.
The rover remains perched on its lander platform, and the next nine days or more will be spent preparing for egress, or rolling off, onto the martian surface.
Spirit arrived at Mars on January 3 (est. and pst; January. 4 universal time) after a seven month journey. Its task is to spend the next three months exploring for clues in rocks and soil about whether the past environment at this part of Mars was ever watery and suitable to sustain life.
Spirit's twin Mars exploration rover, opportunity, will reach its landing site on the opposite side of Mars on January 25 (est. and universal time; Jan. 24 pst) to begin a similar examination of a site on the opposite side of the planet from Gusev Crater.
JPL, a Division of the California Institute of Technology, manages the mars exploration rover project for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington.