Stuck Rover on Mars Can Still Do Science

NASA’s beleaguered Mars rover Spirit may no longer be much of a rover, but it’s not the end of the road for her yet. The semi-stuck robot still has plenty of science left to do on the red planet, mission scientists say.
“There’s actually a whole class of scientific objectives that you can only address from a vehicle that doesn’t move. So far we’ve pretty much tended to ignore those,” said rover mission principal investigator Steven Squyres of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
Squyres and other mission mangers announced last week that they were halting the effort to free Spirit from the sand trap it has been stuck in since May and shifting efforts to preparing the rover for the upcoming Martian winter.
The rover’s handlers will try over the next week to position the rover to maximize the amount of solar radiation it receives to give it the best chance of making it through the winter.
“Energy is getting so low that we think we only have, you know, at maximum another half-dozen drives to be able to do that before we have to hunker down and get through the winter campaign,” said science team member Ray Arvidson of the Washington University in St. Louis.
That winter campaign won’t see the rover doing much: “In the dead of winter, it can try to survive, that’s about it,” Arvidson told