Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hopes dwindle for Spirit rescue

The Spirit rover has now been mired in sand since early May and the chances of finding a way for it to escape are looking increasingly grim. Mission controllers have been using full-scale versions of the rover here on earth to simulate various options, but it may be that the rover is now permanently stuck, though this is not necessarily the end of its mission, as it can continue to relay scientific observations from a static position. An excellent summary of the efforts to free Spirit can be found on the spaceflight now website. A fabulous image has also been released of Spirit, snapped by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Look for the little white dot to the left of the Home Plate volcanic feature.

Credit: NASA/University of Arizona