NASA to Attempt Mars Rover Rescue
NASA reports it is attempting to free the trapped Mars rover Spirit which has been stuck in the sandy soil since April 23rd. At that time, the rover broke through a thin crusty layer of soil while it was driving backward over a crater named Troy. It was operating in reverse to help it compensate for an inoperable right wheel which has been trouble since 2006.
Spirit’s wheels are straddling the 26 foot crater, making its planned escape a carefully considered operation. The rover has not been programmed to move since earlier this spring when initial attempts caused its wheels to sink further into the soil.
The driving commands to be given will activate the remaining five wheels on the vehicle, allowing them to turn for six revolutions each. Analysis of the progress, or lack thereof, will determine the future outcome of the rescue.
Spirit and its twin Opportunity (operating on the other side of Mars) is a golf-cart sized robotic roving laboratory which has been exploring the Martian surface for almost six years and continues to do valuable science despite its immobile situation.