Team Prepares to Uplink Commands to Spirit

Spirit photographs her underbelly. This mosaic of images from the Spirit rover, taken on Sol 1925 (June 2, 2009), helped engineers assess the rover's state and plan Spirit's extraction from the soft soil at the site called "Troy." The images were taken by Spirit's microscopic imager instrument, mounted on the end of the robotic arm. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/USGS
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November 16, 2009

Today (Monday, Nov. 16), driving commands are being prepared to instruct Spirit to attempt to drive forward. These are the first driving commands since Spirit became embedded in a Martian sandtrap approximately six months ago. These commands will be transmitted to Spirit at 1 a.m. PST (4 a.m. EST) Tuesday, Nov. 17.

The rover will be instructed to drive straight ahead (north) in two steps. Each step will be a commanded wheel motion of about 2.5 meters (8.2 feet). At the conclusion of the commanded motion, the rover will collect a three-frame Microscopic Imager mosaic of the rover underbelly. Spirit will also collect Pancam images of the middle wheels, pre-drive and post-drive visual odometry (Visodom), Navcam images, and supporting front and rear Hazcam images. The rover will drive with the robotic arm (Instrument Deployment Device) already deployed in the "fishing stow" position, like Opportunity, so it can take Microscopic Imager images without having to stow and un-stow the arm before and after each drive.

The team expects to spend all day Tuesday analyzing the drive results before the next drive attempt, possibly on Wednesday, Nov. 18. It is expected, at least initially, that little actual motion of the rover will be observed.

The attempt to extract Spirit from the Martian sandtrap is expected to take weeks or months, if it is at all possible. The next status update will be issued Tuesday, Nov. 17.

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