Rover team members at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., on July 24, 2009, discuss the next step in preparing for a new phase in testing of possible moves for getting NASA's Mars rover Spirit out of a sandtrap on Mars. From left: Matt Van Kirk, Joseph Carsten, Kim Lichtenberg, Pauline Hwang.
The team members removed the rover from the soft soil of the test setup at JPL using some aids not available on Mars, such as plywood ramps. A series of tests had been completed for evaluating various individual maneuvers, such as driving straight ahead, turning in place or crabbing to the side. The next step was to renew the simulated Martian soil in the sandbox. Then the rover would drive in again, backwards, the way Spirit drove into the location where it became embedded. Upcoming tests will use combinations of the individual maneuvers and longer-duration drives, to evaluate a full escape strategy for Spirit.
To see updates on the efforts to free the Spirit rover, visit the JPL Free Spirit website.