Rover needs a Tow... May 5, 2005 22:17:00 GMT -6
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on May 5, 2005 22:17:00 GMT -6
US probe sinks into Martian sand dune, but will pull out, says NASA
CAPE CANAVERAL, United States (AFP) - A US robot space probe that has been working on the surface of Mars has partially sunk into a sand dune, but NASA engineers are confident they can get it out and running again, a NASA official in charge of the Mars mission said.
The six wheels of the Opportunity probe are 80 percent under extremely fine Martian sand, Deputy Project Scientist Albert Haldemann told AFP on Wednesday from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
"I don't like the word stuck, because we have yet to try to drive it out," he said, adding that experts were trying very hard to understand what had happened to the Mars rover.
"We built a simulator drift, a sand box, to try to recreate the same situation" shown by the television images sent by Opportunity of its immediate surroundings, Haldemann said.
He said the robot's electric engines were in working order and that he was optimistic the obstacle could be overcome, making it clear the experiments duplicating Opportunity's situation on Mars so far had gone well.
"We hope we are not stuck, we will see next week," said Haldeman, "but I am optimistic we're going to be able to get out of here."
The twin Mars robots Opportunity and Spirit have managed to get out of trouble two or three times since they landed on Mars in January last year.
They have surpassed their original, three-month mission and continue to work so well that NASA last month decided to extend it another 18 months.
When I get stuck in the snow, I rock it back and forth and use the emergency brake just lightly. Just a suggestion for NASA.