Feeds

Dodgy wheel thwarts Mars rover rescue

Sand trap 3: NASA 0

Top three mobile application threats

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
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'
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
R.I.P. LADEE: Probe smashes into lunar surface at 3,600mph
Swan dive signs off successful science mission
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
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.
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.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.