NASA (Space Pavilion) reports that Mars rover 'Spirit' is stuck in reverse due to a sticky front wheel. By driving around backwards engineers hope they won't aggravate the problem.

They are now only using the wheel when they have to drive up challenging, sandy slopes. Data showed that the wheel motor was drawing roughly twice the current of the other five and attempts to improve the problem have only been partially successful.


Rover engineer Joe Melko told a news conference in Pasadena that the rover was designed to drive in reverse just as well as it drives forward. The Mars rover planners are now preparing for the coming Martian winter, which peaks in mid-September. The winter sunshine means the rovers will have less solar power and take longer to recharge.

Periods of rest and deep sleep will allow the rovers to keep working through the winter at lower activity levels.

Jim Erickson, project manager for the Mars Exploration Rover mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, says: "The rovers might work a little bit every day, or a little bit more every other day. We will see how things go and remain flexible."

Source: Flight Daily News