Mars rover frees itself from loose soil

December 5th, 2007 - 2:00 pm ICT by admin  

London, Dec 5 (ANI): Reports indicate that NASA’s Mars Rover Spirit has freed itself from the loose soil it had been stuck in for about two weeks.
Spirit had been heading to the northern end of a 90-metre-wide raised plateau called Home Plate, when it got stuck in the sandy soil nicknamed “Tartarus”, in a region having steep and northern-tilting slopes.
Though the mission scientists had hoped the rover would arrive on a safe slope by January 1, it has become stuck from some days. This deadline is all the more critical because the rover’s power levels are already depleted due to dust on its solar panels from a global dust storm a few months ago.
But on November 28, the rover finally clambered out, after a series of short drives in which rover managers drove it first in one direction and then in another, “switchbacking” out of the troublesome spot.
According to New Scientist magazine, the rover will now try to drive about 25 metres to the northern edge of Home Plate, which it has been exploring for months. Steep, northern-tilting slopes in this region would maximise the sunlight falling on the rover’s solar panels during winter in the planet’s southern hemisphere.
But Spirit is likely to hit more rough patches on its way to its destination.
“During the next few weeks, Spirit’s journey to ‘Winter Haven 3′ is expected to be no less difficult, requiring the rover to manoeuvre across a sandy, rocky valley along the western edge of Home Plate,” states an update on the rover website. (ANI)

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