This 20-frame animation shows dust-laden winds blowing across the Martian plains near Spirit’s current position…which is the same position she’s been in for several weeks since becoming mired in the soft sand on the western edge of “Home Plate”.
Regardless of her predicament, Spirit’s energy levels are in good supply due to these same winds keeping her solar panels clear of dust and sand, and she’s been busy taking images of her surroundings.
The rover team at JPL has been testing extraction techniques first-hand by building a sandbox filled with similar-grade soil and trying to gat a working duplicate of the rover to drive free. It’s been discovered that the rover may also be jammed on some exposed rocks, complicating the procedure. Watch the video broadcast of the rovers’ current status here.
The animation above was made from images taken by Spirit during the last week of May, 2009.
Although fast-moving, the winds on Mars would barely be felt by a person because of the thinness of the Martian air. They pose little risk to the rovers, and are actually quite handy as solar panel dusters.
Raw image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Animation: J. Major.