Web edition: March 3, 2010
Last month Science News reported that the Mars rover Spirit’s wandering days were over after it got its wheels buried in a sandpit, but we may have spoken too soon. A few blogs from the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas this week reported that Spirit might not be so stuck after all. Science News has no reporters at the conference, but you can read reports from Nature’s In the Field blog, New Scientist, and the Planetary Society blog.
Since the rover was officially declared a “stationary research platform” in January, Spirit has wiggled 34 centimeters, Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St Louis announced at the meeting. “Pretty good for a lander,” he said, as quoted by New Scientist. The rover team only stopped driving to save power for the Martian winter.
“It’s all rather promising,” Jim Bell of Cornell University, the principal investigator for the rovers’ panoramic cameras, told Science News. “Once the power comes back, if we’re able to keep the rover alive over the winter, we’ll be able to continue those driving methods and maybe get out of that mess.”
Although this is good news, it’s not exactly new news, Bell pointed out: As early as February 11, the Jet Propulsion Lab’s “Free Spirit” website had reports of the brief jaunt.
For more information on the robotic Mars rover, visit NASA JPL's Free Spirit website [Go to]