Martian Sand Trap

Contributed by
May 3, 2005
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The little rover that could (well, half of the team of little rovers that could) has found itself stuck, sortof, in the sand.

Opportunity, one of two rovers (the other is Spirit) that landed on Mars over a year ago, has been, well, roving over the surface and taking very cool images (like ones of wee craters). And while the managers are not saying it's trapped, they are having some difficulty with it being mired in sand near a martian dune.

The image above links to a much larger (1024 x 1024) image showing one of Oppy's six wheels, and it appears to be about half-buried in sand. Managers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab are not saying it's stuck, since they having tried to get it out yet. They are working on rover mockups here on Earth to figure out the best way to get it unmired. The last thing they want to do is make things worse because they didn't test out the situation first! 200 million kilometers is a long way to make a house call.

For more pix of where it sits, try here, especially the navigation camera images. Very cool stuff.