Shop Windows to the Universe

We now offer the Cool It! card game in our Science Store. Cool It! is the new card game from UCS that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change.
This picture shows Gusev Crater. Spirit landed inside the yellow oval. The oval is 81 km (50 miles) long. The colors in this picture show how high (or low) the land is. Low places are shown as blue and green. High places are shown as orange and red.
Click on image for full size

MER Spirit landing site - Gusev Crater

Two robot rovers landed on Mars in January 2004. The first robot is named Spirit. Spirit landed inside a big crater called Gusev Crater.

Gusev Crater may have been filled with water long ago. It may have been a big lake. Spirit is a robot geologist. Some kinds of rocks form in places where there is water. Spirit is trying to find those kinds of rocks. If it does, that might prove that Gusev Crater really was a lake.

The only water that we know about on Mars right now is frozen - it is ice! Many scientists think Mars used to be warmer. They think there may have been liquid water on Mars in the past. Liquid water is good place to find life, especially microbes. If we find water on Mars, or clues about where there used to be water, that might help us figure out whether Mars ever had life.

Spirit has a twin named Opportunity. Opportunity landed at a different place on Mars named Meridiani Planum.

Gusev Crater is about 145 km (90 miles) wide. It is about as big as the state of Connecticut. There is a valley connected to Gusev Crater. The valley looks like it might have had a river in it long ago. Maybe Spirit will find rocks that formed in water!

Last modified February 8, 2004 by Randy Russell.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology, rocks and minerals, oceanography, and Earth system science to astronomy!

Windows to the Universe Community



You might also be interested in:

Ready, Set, SCIENCE!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms

What types of instructional experiences help K-8 students learn science with understanding? What do science educators teachers, teacher leaders, science specialists, professional development staff, curriculum designers, school administrators need to know to create and support such experiences?...more

Martian Water

Mars doesn't seem to have very much water. If Mars had lots of water life could survive there. There seems to be *some* water because clouds, fog, and icy polar caps are seen on Mars today. There are also...more

What Is a Sedimentary Rock?

Someday, the sand that you see at the beach might become a sedimentary rock! The sand at the beach is made of little pieces of ...more

Exploratour: Life on Mars?

When we ask "Where might we find life outside of the Earth", the first place many scientists turn to is Mars. Mars may have been like the Earth in its past. No signs of life on Mars have been found, but...more

What will happen when on the MER missions?

Both Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) were launched from Florida in the summer of 2003. The first, Spirit, blasted off on June 10. The second, Opportunity, blasted off on July 7. Each spacecraft spent about...more

ACE Launch

The Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) was launched on August 25, 1997. How old were you when ACE was launched?...more


To learn more about a specific mission from the Apollo program, the most successful and expensive space program in human history, select one of the links below: Apollo 1 Apollo 7 Apollo 8 Apollo 9 Apollo...more

Apollo 1

The Apollo space program, scheduled for its first launch on Feb. 21, 1967, started in tragedy. On Jan. 27, 1967, astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee were practicing for launch when fire...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA