December 14, 2017

20.10.09: Free Spirit!

The Mars spirit rover is in dire need of a tow truck. Like a recent episode of The Big Bang Theory, the tiny rover has found itself stuck since earlier this year,  about two miles southeast of its original Home-plate landing site. (Was Wollowitz to blame?) Bouncing to rest in January 2004, the twin rovers of Spirit and Opportunity has been defying all expectations and have become the rovers that simply refuse to die. While ensconced in martian soil, Spirit has taken the opportunity (catch the bad pun?) to examine its new home, dubbed Troy. The area appears to contain basaltic & sulfate rich sand layered in various hydration states. Scientists at JPL can console themselves that Spirit’s sand trap home is at least scientifically interesting. In addition, Spirit has been plagued by a gimp front wheel, which has forced engineers to drive it backward, dragging the faulty wheel instead of plowing it forward. Scientists have been simulating extraction in a sandbox here on Earth, and real movement on Mars is expected to begin sometime in early November. Dust storms have cleared the solar panels of dust, so with any luck the batteries will operate at their peak. Now is a good time to start following the rovers via Twitter…Free Spirit!