Between Rocks and a Soft Place


Between Rocks and a Soft Spot...
Exposed rocks at Spirit's location

All dusted off and nowhere to go. The Mars Exploration Rover Spirit is still stuck in her current position west of the low plateau called “Home Plate”, with the MER team at JPL still trying to devise a way to get her moving again. The sands on the slopes of Home Plate have proven to be too soft for Spirit’s tires to gain traction, and although her energy levels are high due to increased solar energy and several “dusting events” – beneficial cleaning of dust off the solar panels by the wind – her wheels are too buried in the sand to maneuver further.

While the MER team investigates, Spirit has been busy taking photos from her location. Many are being used to evaluate the situation but others, like the one above, show the landscape features nearby. These exposed rock ledges are next to the rover, their softened edges a testament of millennia of scouring by Martian wind and sand.

The original image is false-color, I adjusted it a bit to be slightly more “natural color” as our eyes might see it. 

More information on Spirit’s situation can be found here.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech