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Mars rover breaks free of sand trap

Phew

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The Mars rover Opportunity has finally escaped from the dastardly sand trap that had kept in captive for almost 40 days. The rover got stuck when it tried to cross a ripple-shaped dune in the Meridiani Planum on 26 April, but mission scientists confirmed this weekend that the rover was rolling free once again.

Opportunity is on the move again

The mission engineers used a model of the rover back on Earth to try to work out how to get the rover out of its ditch.

According to the JPL home page, engineers cheered when the images from the rover showed that the vehicle was finally free. The pictures showed fresh wheel tracks in the sand, stretching out behind the rover as it continues its exploration of the Martian surface.

NASA plans to take a careful look at Opportunity's surroundings before going on a new long drive, according to the BBC. The last thing anyone wants at this stage is for Opportunity to fall into another sand trap and get stuck again.

While it was stuck, the rover took the opportunity to star gaze. A few days ago, Opportunity woke up just after sunset and snapped this picture of Earth. ®

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