Feeds

Dodgy wheel thwarts Mars rover rescue

Sand trap 3: NASA 0

High performance access to file storage

NASA's attempts to rescue its stuck rover Spirit from a Martian sand trap has hit another snag in the form of a dawdling wheel.

Spirit's right-rear wheel stalled during the agency's third attempt to extract the aging rover from a sandy feature called "Troy" where it has been caught since April.

The space agency was also forced to call short its first round of rescue commands less than 1 second after they began when the rover sensed it was tilting too far for comfort.

NASA began its extrication attempts on November 16 after conducting a lengthy series of trials using a test rover and sandbox on Earth. Doug McCuistion, director of the Mars Exploration program at NASA, has previously stated there's a "high probability" the attempts to free Spirit will not be successful.

The third extrication drive, made on November 21, was halted after the right-rear wheel stalled when its progress fell behind the expected rotation rate, NASA said today. Spirit's wheels completed about 4 meters (13 feet) of commanded spin before the stall terminated the drive. NASA said the effort moved Spirit only 4mm (0.2 inch) forward, 3mm (0.1 inch) to the left and about 3mm (0.1 inch) down.

The aging rover had also experienced stall in its left-middle wheel back in May — but it has since worked normally. Spirit's right-front wheel has been broken since 2006.

Spirit became bogged down in Troy after the rover broke through a hard crust on the Martian surface that was covering bright-toned, slippery sand underneath. NASA's initial attempts to maneuver Spirit to freedom only made the rover sink deeper into the sand.

NASA's plan for today is to run a set of diagnostics to figure out the reason for the right-rear wheel stall. Tests will include a rotor resistance test, a possible steering test, a small backward rotation of the problematic wheel only, and a short forward commanded motion of the rover.

The space agency said it won't resume efforts to free Spirit until Wednesday. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.