Free Spirit: Rock Under the Belly

Jul 02, 2009
With a slope of about 10 degrees and a pointy rock under the test rover's belly, this sandbox setup at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., is ready for engineers to use the test rover to assess possible moves for getting Mars rover Spirit out of a patch of loose Martian soil. The rock beneath the test rover was put in place on July 1, 2009, to resemble a rock underneath Spirit on Mars. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Engineers placed a rock underneath the test rover at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., on July 1, 2009, to more closely simulate Spirit's predicament on Mars.

After becoming embedded in soft soil, Spirit used the microscopic imager at the end of its arm last month to look under its own belly for the first time. The resulting view confirmed a rock beneath the touching its underbelly. With a rock now placed similarly in the test sandbox, testing in the next few weeks will evaluate possible extraction moves for Spirit.

Credit: NASA/JPL/USGS

This panorama of images from the , taken on Sol 1925 (June 2, 2009), is helping engineers assess the rover's current state and plan her extraction from the soft soil in the region now called "Troy." The images were taken by Spirit's microscopic imager instrument, mounted on the end of her .

This is the first time the microscopic imager has been used to assist in planning a rover's escape from an embedding event. The imager isn't intended to take these types of images--it is designed to focus on targets only 6 centimeters (2.4 inches) in front of its optics. As a result, the images in this mosaic are well out of focus. Yet despite the focus and the backlighting of the scene, the mosaic is still very useful for helping to assess the rover's state.

The mosaic, which is rotated to show the true orientation of the rover relative to the local terrain, shows the underside of the rover, the depth to which the wheels are embedded and the terrain itself in sufficient detail.

Provided by JPL/NASA (news : web)

Explore further: New project aims to establish a human colony on Mars

Related Stories

Spirit Takes a Peek at Her Belly

Jun 04, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new image of Spirit's underbelly is helping engineers assess the rover's current state and plan her escape from soft soil. The panoramic mosaic of multiple images was taken by the microscopic ...

Spirit Wiggles Into Position

Oct 17, 2005

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit completed a difficult, rocky ascent en route to reaching a captivating rock outcrop nicknamed "Hillary" at the summit of "Husband Hill."

Spirit rover's wheels stuck in soft Martian dirt

May 12, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- The five wheels that still rotate on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit have been slipping severely in soft soil during recent attempts to drive, sinking the wheels about halfway into the ...

Spirit Sitting Pretty On A Martian Hillock

Jun 06, 2006

Since arriving at the rover's current location April 10, on its 807th sol, or Martian day, of exploration, Spirit's knowledge of its attitude relative to the Sun has drifted.

Spirit Studies Layered Rocks

Feb 26, 2006

Spirit will soon be on top of the rugged plateau known as "Home Plate," which features the most spectacular layering Spirit has yet encountered, and begin taking images of the surrounding terrain. Spirit had ...

Recommended for you

New project aims to establish a human colony on Mars

1 hour ago

MarsPolar, a newly started international venture is setting its sights on the Red Planet. The project consisting of specialists from Russia, United Arab Emirates, Poland, U.S. and Ukraine has come up with a bol ...

Ceres bright spots sharpen but questions remain

22 hours ago

The latest views of Ceres' enigmatic white spots are sharper and clearer, but it's obvious that Dawn will have to descend much lower before we'll see crucial details hidden in this overexposed splatter of ...

Rosetta's view of a comet's "great divide"

22 hours ago

The latest image to be revealed of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comes from October 27, 2014, before the Philae lander even departed for its surface. Above we get a view of a dramatically-shadowed cliff ...

How long will our spacecraft survive?

23 hours ago

There are many hazards out there, eager to disrupt and dismantle the mighty machines we send out into space. How long can they survive to perform their important missions?

Why roundworms are ideal for space studies

23 hours ago

Humans have long been fascinated by the cosmos. Ancient cave paintings show that we've been thinking about space for much of the history of our species. The popularity of recent sci-fi movies suggest that ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

deatopmg
not rated yet Jul 03, 2009
How do they know if the rock on Mars is sitting on something firm or just laying in the soft sand and therefore not part of the problem??

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.