May 12, 2009 | 3
The Mars rover Spirit has suffered through many hardships in its five years on the forbidding planet, outliving the scope of its original mission by more than 20 times in the process.
But now Spirit faces a new and tricky challenge—its wheels have partly sunk into a patch of soft soil. The rover's controllers have put a halt to driving operations while they try to figure out how to get it unstuck.
"Spirit is in a very difficult situation," John Callas, project manager for the rovers at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement yesterday. "We are proceeding methodically and cautiously. It may be weeks before we try moving Spirit again." A JPL spokesperson said today that the rover's condition had not changed.
Apr 14, 2009 | 8
Spirit, one of the twin Mars rovers that have patrolled the Red Planet since 2004, appears to have suffered another glitchy episode. The rover team is trying to figure out why Spirit rebooted itself at least twice over the weekend; in January the rover perplexed its handlers when it failed to respond to commands and did not record its activities for a spell.
As the rover bounced information to and from Earth, some of its communications were interrupted; Spirit appears to have rebooted while it was using an antenna that allows direct contact with Earth.
"While we don't have an explanation yet" for the glitches, Spirit appears to be fully powered and within its temperature bounds, project manager John Callas of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. "The rover is in a stable operations state called automode and taking care of itself. It could stay in this stable mode for some time if necessary while we diagnose the problem."
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