NASA Will Try to Free Rover Stuck on Mars

Spirit has been in a sand trap since April
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 12, 2009 5:37 PM CST
NASA's Mars rover Spirit in 2005.   (AP Photo/NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
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(Newser) – Help is on the way, rover. NASA will attempt to free the Mars rover Spirit from its sand-trap prison on Monday. The plucky machine got stuck in April—“the equivalent of falling through the ice over a frozen pond," says a NASA official. Spirit has been exploring Mars for 6 years now, far longer than planned, but the dirt trap may be its final stop.

"This process could take quite awhile if it's possible at all," the mission director tells Engineers will try to get Spirit to back up over its own tracks in an attempt to break free. One bright spot: Even though it's been stuck in one spot for 7 months, Spirit has been busily sending back images all the while. "Of course no place is a nice place to be embedded, but this turns out to be a geological treasure trove," says a rover expert.