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Emily LakdawallaDecember 17, 2009

Watch that front wheel spin!

Holy cow, look at that right front wheel spin. I am alternately amazed and horrified by this animation. Spirit's been dragging that wheel as an anchor for years. Ridiculously, it has come back to life, and is spinning fine. But of course wheels shouldn't spin in place; they should roll forward. Spirit has seemingly traded one deeply buried functioning wheel for its unburied nonfunctioning wheel. The right rear wheel, which is totally buried, still shows no motion as far as I know. That pretty much defines the word "anchor." Spirit's still in deep trouble. But if a dead wheel can come back to life, who can say what's going to happen next? Stay tuned!

A sol 2117 spin of Spirit's front wheels

NASA / JPL / animation by Eduardo Tesheiner

A sol 2117 spin of Spirit's front wheels
On sol 2117, the right front wheel spun and spun, improbably resurrected from death. However, little forward progress was apparently made that day.

Read more: pretty pictures, amateur image processing, Spirit, Mars Exploration Rovers, spacecraft, Mars, animation

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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