Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Playing in the Big Sand Box in the Sky

The Spirit rover completed its 2000th workday on the Mars earlier this week. Not bad for a project that it was hoped would make 90 days. And we're talking Martian days here. They're a little longer than Earth days.
The rover team keeps track of Spirit's timeline in Martian days, or "sols," which are slightly longer than Earth days. The result is that even though the rover passed the 2,000-day milestone a few weeks ago, as measured on Earth, the Sol 2000 mark didn't come around until Tuesday.

...Spirit is currently mired in a sandpit nicknamed Troy, facing a trial worthy of the Divine Comedy. The poetic parallel is doubly apt - considering that Dante posted half-buried villains around Hell's central pit in his "Inferno," and that NASA's Opportunity rover escaped from being buried in a Martian sand dune called "Purgatory" more than four years ago.

The NASA boys and girls have been playing in a sandbox in the lab to determine how best to get Spirit out of its predicament. They've devised a plan and will execute it during the first week or two of September. Meanwhile, daunty little Spirit keeps right on observing and analyzing and sending data home.

(h/t to Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit)

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