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Friday, November 12, 2004

Getting out of Endurance

Burns Clift as seen on Sol 280
Burns Clift as seen on Sol 280
Credit: JPL/NASA
The JPL team has decided to turn Opportunity around. The proposed route out of the Endurance Crater was deemed too risky. "We've done a careful analysis of the ground in front of Opportunity and decided to turn around," said Jim Erickson, rover project manager at JPL, "to the right, the slope is too steep -- more than 30 degrees. To the left, there are sandy areas we can't be sure we could get across." Before Opportunity retreats from its position, it will spend some time examining "Burns" cliff, to help scientist tell weather or not there was water or solely wind activity there. "We have pushed the vehicle right to the edge of its capabilities, and we've finally reached a spot where we may be able to answer questions we've been asking about this site for months," said Dr. Steve Squyres. "But after we're done here, it'll be time to turn around. Going any farther could cut off our line of retreat from the crater, and that's not something anybody on the team wants to do."

Spirit, half a planet away, is supposedly sending back false information about its steering breaks. The team will disregard this information and assume that Spirit is working. "We're going back to using the full steering capabilities of Spirit," Erickson said.

(More info: JPL/NASA)

- posted by Jim @ 10:16 EST