Spirit Rover Update – Still Stuck, But NASA is Working on it.

Update: (June 3rd, 2009): Mars Spirit Rover Snaps Photographs of Her Underbelly
Update: (May 29th, 2009): A new article describing recently released details on the Spirit mars rover has been published.

Spirit's Twin, Opportunity, takes a picture of her underbelly. Image: NASA

Spirit's Twin, Opportunity, takes a picture of her underbelly. Image: NASA

A May 18 press release from NASA releases new information about the nature of how Spirit became lodged in floury martian soil. You may remember our previous report on the stuck mars rover, showing Spirit’s front wheel embedded deep in the sand.

In this press release, NASA indicates they thought one of Spirit’s middle wheels may have jammed. Early diagnostics look promising, however, as the wheel appears to be testing well. According to NASA,

The possibility of the wheel being jammed was one factor in the rover team’s May 7 decision to temporarily suspend driving Spirit after that wheel stalled and other wheels had dug themselves about hub-deep into the soil. The test over the weekend showed electrical resistance in the left middle wheel is within the expected range for a motor that has not failed.

This is great news for Spirit, if the aging rover ever becomes unstuck. Spirit’s front wheel jammed several years ago, forcing the rover to operate in reverse while the disabled wheel dragged behind. Complications from a second jammed wheel, combined with Spirit’s “amnesia” events could induce further pressure to shutdown the rover project, a decision that was announced and later reversed last year due to budget shortfalls.

Mean while, Spirit’s twin, Opportunity, began testing a new procedure which may help NASA scientists and engineers determine whether Spirit has high-centered its chassis on martian dirt and soil. If proved useful, Spirit would lower its robotic arm and snap a picture of its underbelly.

At NASA JPL, rover team members reconstructed the martian landscape around Spirit, and are using an engineering copy of the rover to test maneuvers which may free Spirit from her shallow grave.

Check back for more updates.

[NASA Press Release]

One response to “Spirit Rover Update – Still Stuck, But NASA is Working on it.”

  1. Mars Rover Stuck in Deep Sand, says NASA | Robotics Blog

    […] Update:Mars Rover Update Earlier this month, Spirit, one of NASA’s Mars rovers, became lodged in deep sand. Shown in the pictures below is a photo of Spirit’s stuck wheel, and a photo of NASA engineers working to find the best method of freeing the aging rover.NASA engineers work on methods to free the stuck rover. Image: NASA Spirit’s mission is now on it’s 1909 ’sol’, or Martian day. A martian day is 24 hours, 39 minutes, and 35 seconds long. Earlier in Spirit’s life, the rover lost functionality in one of its wheels, forcing NASA engineers to drive the robot backwards. NASA’s Mars Spirit rover’s wheel is shown almost entirely submersed in Martian sand, on sol 1899. Image: NASA […]

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