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Spirit stands up, to roll off on alternate ramp
Posted: Sat, Jan 10, 2004, 6:48 AM ET (1148 GMT)
Mars Exploration Rover (NASA/JPL) Spacecraft controllers successfully commanded the Mars Exploration Rover Sprit to stand up on its lander and lower its front wheels, as they planned to use an alternate ramp next week to roll onto the Martian surface. Controllers issued the commands late Thursday to use a lift mechanism in the lander to push up the rover to its standing height and lower the front pair of wheels, a key step to prepare the rover for rolling off the lander. However, a final effort to tuck away airbag material in the path of the primary ramp on the lander failed. Controllers instead plan to turn the rover 120 degrees to the right and roll off in an alternate direction. NASA now plans to move the rover off the lander on January 16 or 17, several days later than originally planned to accommodate the efforts to clear the path of the primary ramp. While still on the lander the rover's scientific instruments have been at work: scientists using its thermal emission spectrometer report finding traces of carbonate minerals, which could have been created in the presence of liquid water in the planet's past or with the trace amounts of water vapor in the current atmosphere. The spectrometer also showed surface temperatures varied between +5 and -15 degrees Celsius.
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