NASA Fails in First Attempt to Free Mars Explorer Spirit

PASADENA, Calif., Nov. 18 (UPI) — NASA says it failed to free its stuck Mars explorer Spirit on the first attempt.

Officials at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said preliminary data from Tuesday’s experiment indicate the rover stopped moving less than 1 second after it sensed more lateral tilt than permitted.

A tight limit on vehicle roll and pitch of less than 1 degree change was set for the first drive, officials said.

“The project is starting cautiously, setting initial parameters with very tight limits with the knowledge that these hair triggers may stop the rover frequently,” NASA said in a statement. “As the project gains confidence with extrication, these limits may be relaxed.”

The space agency said its attempt to extract Spirit from the Martian sand trap is expected to take weeks or months, with uncertain probability of success.

Spirit has been stuck in loose martian sand since April 23.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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