After 10 months of effort, NASA has given up on trying to free Spirit from the sand trap that it drove into on Mars. The space agency has declared the rover – which has been on Mars for six years – as a “stationary science platform.”
I know it’s probably disappointment, but the rover will still conduct valuable science. Six years is an amazing time to be on Mars. For anyone feeling a bit sad, this video might lighten the mood a bit. Hey, it can happen to anyone!
The full press release is after the break. (more…)
A small motor in the robotic arm of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity that began stalling occasionally more than two years ago has become more troublesome recently.
Rover engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., are diagnosing why the motor, one of five in the robotic arm, stalled on April 14 after much less motion that day than in the case of several earlier stalls. They are also examining whether the motor can be used and assessing the impact on Opportunity’s work if the motor were no longer usable.
The motor controls sideways motion at the shoulder joint of the rover robotic arm. Other motors provide up-and-down motion at the shoulder and maneuverability at the elbow and wrist. A turret at the end of the arm has four tools that the arm places in contact with rocks and soils to study their composition and texture.
“Even under the worst-case scenario for this motor, Opportunity still has the capability to do some contact science with the arm,” said JPL’s John Callas, project manager for the twin rovers Opportunity and Spirit. “The vehicle has quite a bit of versatility to continue the high-priority investigations in Victoria Crater and back out on the Meridiani plains after exiting the crater.”