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Press Release Images: Spirit
12-Nov-2009
NASA to Begin Attempts to Free Sand-Trapped Mars Rover
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View in Travel Direction, Sol 1870, with 'Rock Garden'

The cluster of rocks labeled a "Rock Garden" in this image is where NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit became embedded in April 2009.

Spirit used its navigation camera to capture this view of the terrain toward the southeast from the location Spirit reached on the 1,870th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's mission on Mars (April 7, 2009).

The ground just left of the center of the image is where Spirit became embedded later in April. Wheels on the western side of the rover broke through the dark, crusty surface into bright, loose, sandy material that was not visible as the rover approached the site.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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Spirit's Wheels Digging into Soft Ground, Sol 1899

Wheel slippage during attempts to extricate NASA's Mars Rover Spirit from a patch of soft ground during the preceding two weeks had partially buried the wheels by the 1,899th Martian day, or sol, of the Spirit's mission on Mars (May 6, 2009).

Spirit took this image with its front hazard-avoidance camera on Sol 1899. With Spirit in the position shown here, the rover team temporarily suspended driving attempts while studying the ground around Spirit and planning simulation tests of driving options with a test rover at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

Driving attempts between the time Spirit took a similar image (PIA12002) 10 sols earlier and when this image was taken moved the rover a total of about 36 centimeters (14 inches).

While driving backwards, the rover drags its right front wheel, which no longer rotates. For scale, the distance between the wheel tracks is about 1 meter (40 inches). This view is looking northward, with Husband Hill on the horizon.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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Sandbox Testing to Prepare for Driving Spirit

Rover-team members at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., check slight movements by a test rover during tests simulating the challenge of getting NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit out of a sand trap on Mars. From left: Alfonso Herrera, Matt Van Kirk, Mike Seibert, Brenda Franklin.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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Site of Intense Investigation by Spirit

This image taken by the front hazard avoidance camera on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit looks toward the northwest and shows some of the targets examined by Spirit after the rover became embedded at this site.

"Ulysses" is the area where Spirit's left wheels broke through a crust and stirred up poorly sorted, weakly cohesive sands. "Sandals" are two small rocks to the northwest of Ulysses. "Cyclops Eye" and "Polyphemus Eye" are two locations in which Spirit's rock abrasion tool was used to bore into the subsurface for detailed textural, compositional, and mineralogical measurements. Ulysses has the highest sulfate content measured by either Spirit or Opportunity. Cyclops Eye also has sulfate minerals beneath the surface whereas Polyphemus Eye does not. Thus Spirit must be sitting over a geologic boundary where materials are different to the west as opposed to the east.

Spirit took this image during the 1,998th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's mission on Mars (Aug. 16, 2009).

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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Adjusted Local Topography Map of Spirit's Surroundings

A depression called "Scamander Crater," about 8 meters (26 feet) wide and 25 centimeters (10 inches) deep, dominates the terrain near NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit in this map that emphasizes local topography by removing the regional tilt to the northwest.

The total relief indicated by the color differences is about half a meter (20 inches) from the higher ground (color coded red) to the lower ground (color coded black). The map covers an area 12 meters (39 feet) wide from west to east. North is to the top.

The topographic information was generated from stereo image data using exposures taken by Spirit's navigation camera during the 1,870th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's mission on Mars (April 7, 2009). At that time, Spirit had not yet reached the rover location indicated on the map. The indicated position is at a site called "Troy," where Spirit became embedded by the end of April and remained for more than six months. From its embedded position, the rover used its robotic arm to examine the patch of bright soil it had exposed, called "Ulysses."

The map indicates that Spirit is situated with its left wheels within the crater and right wheels outside the crater. Rover-team scientists hypothesize that the left wheels broke through a thin, sulfate-rich crust and encountered underlying loose sulfate sands that fill the crater.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Ohio State University
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Rear View Southward from 'Troy'

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit used its rear hazard avoidance camera to take this view toward the south during the 1,899th Martian day, or sol, of Spirit's mission on Mars (May 6, 2009).

The foreground shows that Spirit's left-rear wheel (on the right from this viewpoint) churned up bright-toned material when the rover was becoming embedded at this position, but that the right-rear wheel did not.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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