Feeds

Dodgy wheel thwarts Mars rover rescue

Sand trap 3: NASA 0

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?