It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
In the struggle to free the Mars rover Spirit from a sand trap, NASA engineers are bringing out the reserve troops. A second, lighter duplicate rover slid into a sandbox for testing this week, delaying any attempt to free Spirit by as much as three weeks, to mid-September.
Spirit has been stuck in a sandpit for nearly four months. Since late June, engineers have been trying to determine the best moves to extricate it by driving a test rover around a sandbox at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California.
Rover engineers had earlier announced that they were almost done with the testing and would be ready to move Spirit around 10 August, but they backtracked in a meeting on 6 August.
"We've come up with additional tests that we want to do, and additional computer modelling that we want to do as well," says rover project manager John Callas at JPL. "Now we're looking at the middle of September."
Mars rover team members are planning a long-duration experiment with the test rover at JPL beginning next week. This test will check whether favorable motion seen in earlier tests can be sustained to gain as much distance in the sandbox as Spirit would need to complete on Mars to escape its predicament.
The team expects to drive the test rover for several hundred meters, or yards, worth of wheel rotations over the course of a week or more without starting over. Steering direction will be changed several times during the run. Earlier tests have run for one or two days. In between tests, the team resets the sandbox to simulate Spirit's current starting position at the Mars location called "Troy."