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Spirit rover self-inspects

Enlarge Image credit: NASA/JPL/USGS MORE IMAGES

Stuck in a patch of soft Martian soil, the Spirit rover is displaying all the levelheadedness of a veteran golfer plotting the way out of a sand trap. The rover's controllers back on Earth are using Spirit's instruments to survey its surroundings and hopefully collect enough information to extricate Spirit from the soil in an area that has been dubbed "Troy".

Among the rover's tactics is using its robotic arm to conduct a camera examination of its underbelly and partially buried wheels, an inspection that earlier this week produced this mosaic of images. The blurring is a consequence of the imager being designed for close-up examination—it is intended to peer at objects just 2.4 inches (six centimeters) away, which is why the pile of soil in the foreground is in the sharpest focus.

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