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.
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 (PIA12102) confirmed a rock beneath the rover 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.
To see updates on the efforts to free the Spirit rover, visit the JPL Free Spirit website.