NASA: Mars rover “Spirit” gets stuck, makes big discovery

NASA Spirit Mars Rover Wheel

NASA Spirit Mars Rover Wheel

NASA reported today, December 2, that the Mars rover “Spirit”has made significant discoveries while stuck in a section of the Martian terrain named after the ancient city of Troy.

Several of the wheels on the rover have been unable to gain traction, and have spun in place for the past six months as NASA operators attempt to unstick the device.  As the wheels churned up the soil, scientists were pleased to discover the presence of water-indicating sulfates, which form during steam events.

The Spirit and Opportunity rovers landed at different spots on the red planet over 6 years ago, with the mission statement to “follow the water”.  The Opportunity has been fortunate; it landed in a dry lake bed, and so has had little difficulty discovering water indicating minerals.  The Spirit, however, has had a more difficult time: it landed in lava flows created when asteroids struck the planet.  Desolate conditions, indeed.

But this discovery was more than a bit of good luck for the Spirit; with the new evidence, NASA scientists are quickly filling in the blanks on the Martian water cycle.  From the original NASA article: “Spirit’s saga at Troy has given scientists material evidence of past water on Mars on two time scales: ancient volcanic times, and cycles ongoing to the present day.”

While the time at Troy has been important, the NASA control engineers are keen to continue their discovery of Mars.  Said one, “Troy is a good place to be under siege, but we’re ready to leave.”

Category: Interesting Stuff

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