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Tracks in, Path out?
11.25.09
 
Tracks in, Path out?

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This view from the navigation camera near the top of the mast on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit shows the tracks left by the rover as it drove southward and backward, dragging its inoperable right-front wheel, to the location where the rover broke through a crust in April 2009 and became embedded in soft sand.

The rover team's chosen strategy for beginning the attempt to extricate Spirit from the sand trap is to follow these tracks out, heading north. Spirit took this image during the 2,092nd Martian day, or sol, of the rover's mission on Mars (Nov. 21, 2009). Spirit performed the third planned drive of the extrication attempt on that sol.

For scale, the distance between the right and left wheel tracks is about 1 meter (3 feet).

The rover team began commanding extrication drives in November after months of Earthbound testing and analysis to develop a strategy for attempting to drive Spirit out of this soft-soil site, called "Troy." The extrication drives are expected to make slow, if any, progress in coming weeks, and the probability of success in escaping from Troy is uncertain.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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