Apr
10
2006

Mars rover, Spirit, reaches safe haven

In our last report the Mars rover, Spirit, was driving backwards, dragging its nonfunctioning front wheel. Spirit needed to reach a sunny slope where it could survive the winter.


Mars Rover, Spirit: picture credit; NASA

"We've got a safe rover," say principal investigator Steve Squyres. Spirit is now parked with about 11.5° of northerly tilt, towards the Sun. Squyres told New Scientist: "We're much, much safer than we've been in quite a while. That's huge news for us." Spirit reached Low Ridge Haven over the weekend and as a result, the rover's power supply has been bumped up by as much as 20%, Squyres says. Science observations are just getting underway at the new site, but he says there are some "wonderful, finely-layered bedrock outcrops" there and it is likely the rover will remain there for the entire winter science campaign. And with the entire winter to study the feature, Squyres says the science team should not have to make further compromises: "We've had this imperative to drive, drive, drive for months. We've just been screaming around as fast as we can go. That got-to-keep-moving thing is over now. So now we can hunker down and really do science in depth."

Source; NewScientistSpace.com and  NASA.gov

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