NASA to Try to Free Stuck Mars Rover Again

A panoramic view of the Mars Rover Spirit showing the terrain surrounding the location called “Troy”
This full-circle view from the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit shows the terrain surrounding the location called "Troy," where Spirit became embedded in soft soil during the spring of 2009. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA engineers are set to take a second go at extricating thestuck rover Spirit from its sandy trap on Mars.

New commands for the rover to attemptto drive out of the sand it is stuck in will be sent up early in themorning on Thursday, according to a NASA report releasted late Wednesday.

Spirit has been mired in the sand pit, dubbed "Troy," since April.

The first attempt to free Spirit, which took place onTuesday, hita snag when the rover sensed it was tilting too much and stopped after lessthan one second of wheel spin.

The new commands have taken the rover's attitude intoaccount. They will again instruct Spiritto drive ahead in two 8.2-feet (2.5-meter) steps. Those distances are theamount of wheel spin the rover will use; the rover is not expected to move verymuch.

The results from this second drive attempt will be beameddown via a Mars orbiter relay later on Thursday. But the relay pass has alimited downlink volume, so the rover team will likely be unable to completetheir analysis that same day.

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Andrea Thompson

Andrea Thompson is an associate editor at Scientific American, where she covers sustainability, energy and the environment. Prior to that, she was a senior writer covering climate science at Climate Central and a reporter and editor at Live Science, where she primarily covered Earth science and the environment. She holds a graduate degree in science health and environmental reporting from New York University, as well as a bachelor of science and and masters of science in atmospheric chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology.