NASA keeps its Spirit alive with Mars rescue planby Stevie Smith - Nov 13 2009, 15:10
NASA hopes to save its plucky Spirit rover. Image: NASA.
Despite being stricken on the surface of Mars for six months, there may yet be hope for NASA rover Spirit after the U.S. space administration revealed a plan to rescue its stranded but otherwise functioning science vehicle.
The roving exploration platform became stuck in a sand trap back in April and is presently straddling the edge of a crater, where it may rest for all time if NASA is unable to translate successful test escapes performed on Earth into a similar result on the dusty and inhospitable Martian surface.
“If we follow our tracks out, we may be able to make better progress,” explained rover controller Ashley Stroupe of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory regarding previous failed attempts to crab the vehicle free.
However, while NASA remains optimistic of rescuing Spirit from its sticky predicament, engineers have warned that the rover’s six wheels – one of which became useless soon after touchdown – could be prone to slippage and a lack of traction.
NASA’s attempts to free Spirit will begin this coming Monday (Nov. 16) and will continue, if immediately unsuccessful, until at least Friday (Nov. 20).