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Emily LakdawallaNovember 8, 2009

She moves! "First drive sequence in 145 sols" for Spirit

It's been an awful long time since we've seen one of these from Spirit:

'Drive' animation from Spirit sol 2078

NASA / JPL-Caltech / animation by Eduardo Tesheiner

'Drive' animation from Spirit sol 2078
Spirit returns thumbnail images from the navigation camera to Earth to document drives. This animation documents Spirit's first drive sequence in 145 sols, on sol 2078, as her engineers prepared to attempt to extricate her from her sandy pit at Troy.

It's an animation of four Navcam frames documenting motion on Spirit! It looks like they are getting ready to test some of the extrication procedures they've spent the last few months developing. Before you get too excited about the motion, I should mention what rover driver Scott Maxwell said via Twitter yesterday, which was that this motion was just to steer the wheels into position for a future drive. Even so, it's a thrill to see Spirit doing anything like roving again.

Here's an absurd number of perspectives on the motion. First, the forward hazcam. This is actually looking backward along the path Spirit took into her current trap. The right front wheel (which Spirit must drag behind her as she moves) did not move; the left front wheel straightened.

Spirit forward hazcam view, sols 2078 and 2079

NASA / JPL-Caltech / animation by Damien Bouic

Spirit forward hazcam view, sols 2078 and 2079
Sol 2078 was the first that saw any motion of Spirit after nearly 150 sols without a drive. The "drive" actually just consisted of a straightening of Spirit's wheels.

Two different perspectives from the rear hazcams, left and right. It's hard to even see the wheels in either of these, they're so buried.

View out Spirit's left rear hazcams, sols 2078 and 2079

NASA / JPL-Caltech / animation by Imipak

View out Spirit's left rear hazcams, sols 2078 and 2079

Right rear hazcam view of Spirit's wheel motion between sols 2072 and 2078

NASA / JPL-Caltech / animation by fredk

Right rear hazcam view of Spirit's wheel motion between sols 2072 and 2078
A comparison of Spirit's wheel positions between sols 2072 and 2078.

Read more: amateur image processing, Spirit, mission status, Mars Exploration Rovers, Mars

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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