That's a lot of motion for a "stuck" rover!
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla
06-02-2010 8:14 CST
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory posted a video to YouTube today showing what seems to be a remarkable amount of motion out of Spirit lately, especially given that she's supposed to be a "stationary science platform" now. The video consists animations from Spirit's forward and rear Hazard Avoidance Cameras -- the belly-mounted, fish-eye cameras that help Spirit understand the terrain immediately in front of and behind it.
A little more context to these animations was provided by rover driver Scott Maxwell via his Twitter feed, which I've expanded on a bit in brackets:
- Yaw [that is, sideways twisting to rover motion rather than forward or backward motion is] produced by three wheels driving on one side, one wheel on the other. [We are] Allowing yaw to [achieve a] configuration that reduces shadowing [presumably, by things like the mast and high-gain antenna onto the solar panels, something that can reduce available solar power substantially].
- *Still* not fully clear to me why backward [driving] is so much better [i.e. more productive] than forward. But I'll take it now, and understand it later.
- The HAZCAM animations [above] are ones I made this morning to better understand our #FreeSpirit progress to date.
- I love 'em [the animations] -- like an old-style, choppy, black-and-white movie, but from the surface of another world.
- In the animations, Spirit's center moves [about] 34cm; the [left front] wheel moves [about] 80cm. "Look at our 'stationary' rover go!" said rover driver Kevin Talley.
- Note that we took more images in earlier sols, fewer in later ones, so it looks like there's an acceleration. It's actually slow & steady.
Don't get too excited -- this is either the last drive or the next-to-last drive we will see out of Spirit for the rest of the winter, due to declining power levels. But it is an awfully promising amount of motion for a stuck rover, and it gives us something besides stationary science to look forward to in the Martian spring, about an Earth year from now.