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Spirit rover to remain stationary
Posted: Wed, Jan 27, 2010, 7:56 AM ET (1256 GMT)
Mars Exploration Rover (NASA/JPL) NASA's Mars rover Spirit, stuck in a sand trap on the Martian surface for close to a year, will remain there permanently as project officials focus their efforts on keeping the rover alive during the coming winter. Project officials said Tuesday that efforts over the last several months to free the rover had not been successful, with now only four of its six wheels working. Instead, engineers will try to position the rover to maximize the sunlight hitting its solar panels so that the rover can generate enough electricity to make it through the upcoming winter, although officials said the rover could go into an extended hibernation during the winter, with limited or no contact with Earth, as it devotes what power it does generate to keeping its batteries charged and heaters operating. Even in its stationary position, scientists said that the rover can still perform good since, such as allowing radio tracking of the rover's position to measure wobbles in the planet's rotation, which can help determine the nature of the planet's interior.
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