Free Spirit Testing Nearing Completion

July 31, 2009
Mars Exploration Rover team members continued longer-duration test runs this week, driving the test rover forward and uphill in a crab-like position. Pictured are Matt Van Kirk with Sharon Laubach.

Mars rover engineers at JPL are winding down testing of different escape maneuvers using a test rover in a sand box filled with soil to mimic the Martian surface. It is possible that in early August the first extraction attempts with Spirit rover, which is dug-in on Mars, might take place.

This week, longer-duration test runs continued, and the team drove the rover several meters, or yards, forward and uphill in a crab-like position. These long-duration drives will continue through the end of next week.

Meanwhile, observations from the Mars Climate Sounder instrument on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter indicate to scientists that a large regional storm is developing. Right now the dust storm is not near Spirit or its twin, Opportunity, but scientists will continue to monitor it as it develops. Since is still in the dust storm season, it is possible (and perhaps even probable) that the storm will continue to grow over the next few days.

Provided by JPL/NASA (news : web)

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