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Spotlight On Mars - Image
Plucky Rover Doesn't Give Up Easily
July 28, 2008
This black-and-white image shows the rover's front wheels digging into the surface. The right front wheel has picked up some dirt on its inside rim. The left front wheel rim is lodged almost, but not quite, underneath a potato-sized rock.

If you've ever gotten stuck while driving on a sandy beach or road, you can imagine Opportunity's recent experience on Mars. At times, the rover's wheels have done more slipping than advancing. Like a hardy dune buggy, the rover keeps driving.

Opportunity's goal is to study rocks exposed in a cliff inside "Victoria Crater." Those rocks contain clues to the history of water. Surrounded by slopes covered with loose material, they have not been easy to reach. Opportunity has slipped to the right and churned up small mounds of soil. At one point, a potato-sized rock nearly got lodged in one of its wheels.

Rather than give up, Opportunity's next plan is to drive upslope and move sideways toward a rock shaped somewhat like the state of Nevada. After more than 7 miles and 4 years of exploration, this rover doesn't cut and run!

Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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