Engineers at JPL continue to test maneuvers on a test rover at JPL in order to free Spirit from a sand trap on Mars.


Ashley Stroupe, MER Rover Driver
I'm Ashley Stroupe and I'm one of the rover drivers here at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and I'm here with the latest Free Spirit update.

This week, we're continuing crab-driving testing.

That means we're steering the wheels to different angles and trying to get the rover to move sideways along the hill.

We've done some testing both with forward crabbing and now we're doing backward crabbing and we've now got the wheels steered to several different angles.

The test you can see behind me, we've got the wheels all steered to 20 degrees and they're all driving backwards to try to pull the rover backward and uphill away from these potential obstacles that we seem to have run into in our first attempt to get out of the sand trap.

We break each test into several smaller pieces so that we can measure the rover's progress along the way.

That way, we can tell whether the rover is making steady progress throughout the test or whether it may come up against a wall and only make good progress at the beginning.

In which case, that we know extra wheel turns are not going to make much of a difference.

One of the great things that's happened along with Spirit sitting still for so long, is, of course, we've been parked in a really windy location and the winds have come along and cleaned off the solar panels tremendously.

So now, we have lots of power, which not only gives us many hours a day where we can conduct scientific experiments and do our mobility tests on Mars to try to get the rover out, but we've bought ourselves a lot more time before Spirit will even have to consider parking for the next Martian winter.
So I'm Ashley Stroupe and this was your Free Spirit update.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

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