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Press Release Images: Spirit
21-Aug-2009
Second Test Rover Added to Driving Experiments
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Second Test Rover Added for 'Free Spirit' Tests
Second Test Rover Added for 'Free Spirit' Tests

Testing at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in August 2009 is assessing possible maneuvers that the Mars rover Spirit might use for escaping from a patch of soft soil where it is embedded at a Martian site called "Troy." In this image from Aug. 21, 2009, members of the rover team at JPL plan for starting to use a second rover in the test setup.

The second rover, called the Surface System Testbed Lite (far right) is lighter weight than the primary engineering test rover, called the Surface System Testbed (left foreground). The lighter version does not carry a science payload and robotic arm, as Spirit, Opportunity and the Surface System Testbed do.

Making comparisons between motions of the two test rovers in duplicated drives will aid the rover team in interpreting effects of differing gravity on rover mobility. An object that weighs 10 pounds on Earth weighs just 3.8 pounds on Mars, due to the smaller mass of Mars compared to Earth.

Image credit: Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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Spirit's View of Own Underbelly, Sol 1990
Spirit's View of Own Underbelly, Sol 1990

This mosaic image was taken with the microscopic imager on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit to accomplish something never intended during the design of the rover or that camera -- getting a look underneath the rover. The dark triangular shape is a rock that is either touching or nearly touching the rover's underbelly.

Rover team members used Spirit's microscopic imager during the 1,990th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's mission on Mars (Aug. 8, 2009) to look beneath Spirit for only the second time since before it left Earth in 2003. They did so to get a better understanding of Spirit's predicament, with wheels embedded deeply enough in soft soil at a site called "Troy" for the rover to be at risk of getting hung up on the rock beneath the belly.

The microscopic imager is designed to focus on rock or soil targets 6 centimeters (2.4 inches) away. It rides on the end of the rover's robotic arm so that it can be placed close to targets for inspection. It cannot focus on objects as far away as the rover underbelly and rocks that are visible in this image despite being out of focus. However, its position on the maneuverable arm enables positioning it for a view that none of the other cameras on the rover could get. The rover team used this technique for an initial view underneath Spirit on Sol 1925 (June 2, 2009) after trying out the technique first with an Earthbound test rover and with Spirit's twin, Opportunity. The Sol 1990 imaging viewed the rock from slightly different camera positions for improved three-dimensional understanding of its location.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS
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Spirit's View of Own Underbelly, (Sol 1925 Stereo)
Spirit's View of Own Underbelly, (Sol 1925 Stereo)

This stereo view combines a pair of images taken by the microscopic imager on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit during the 1,925th Martian day (sol) of Spirit's mission on Mars (June 2, 2009). Rover team members used the microscopic imager on the rover's arm to accomplish something never intended during the design of the rover or that camera -- getting a look underneath the rover. They did so to get a better understanding of Spirit's predicament, with wheels embedded deeply enough in soft soil at a site called "Troy" for the rover to be at risk of getting hung up on a rock under the rover. The dark triangular shape is a rock that is either touching or nearly touching Spirit's underbelly.

The two images combined here come from two camera positions, one slightly to left of the other, yielding a three-dimensional view when seen through red and blue glasses with the red lens on the left.

The microscopic imager is designed to focus on rock or soil targets 6 centimeters (2.4 inches) away. It rides on the end of the rover's robotic arm so that it can be placed close to targets for inspection. It cannot focus on objects as far away as the rover underbelly and rocks that are visible in this image despite being out of focus.

The team has used this image as an aid in planning a drive strategy for Spirit. The rock underneath presents a risk of high-centering the rover if the wheels sink much further into the soil.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS
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Spirit's View of Own Underbelly, (Stereo from Two Sols)
Spirit's View of Own Underbelly, (Stereo from Two Sols)

This stereo view combines a pair of images taken two months apart by the microscopic imager on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit. Rover team members used the microscopic imager on the rover's arm to accomplish something never intended during the design of the rover or that camera -- getting a look underneath the rover. They did so to get a better understanding of Spirit's predicament, with wheels embedded deeply enough in soft soil at a site called "Troy" for the rover to be at risk of getting hung up on a rock under the rover. The dark triangular shape is a rock that is either touching or nearly touching Spirit's underbelly.

The two images combined here come from two camera positions, one slightly to left of the other, yielding a three-dimensional view when seen through red and blue glasses with the red lens on the left. The microscopic imager took one of the pair during Sol (Martian day) 1925 of Spirit's mission on Mars (June 2, 2009) and the other during Sol 1990 (Aug. 8, 2009). The team had not commanded any driving moves by Spirit in the interim while it was running experiments with a test rover on Earth to evaluate possible maneuvers for getting Spirit away from Troy.

The microscopic imager is designed to focus on rock or soil targets 6 centimeters (2.4 inches) away. It rides on the end of the rover's robotic arm so that it can be placed close to targets for inspection. It cannot focus on objects as far away as the rover underbelly and rocks that are visible in this image despite being out of focus.

The team has used this image as an aid in planning a drive strategy for Spirit. The rock underneath presents a risk of high-centering the rover if the wheels sink much further into the soil.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS
Browse Image | Medium Image (64 kB) | Large (216 kB)

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