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Untouched and Untouchable, For Now
Untouched and Untouchable, For Now (click to enlarge)

Untouched and Untouchable, For Now

Tantalizing vistas to the south beyond the edge of "Home Plate," shown here in 3D, will have to wait for another spring, if NASA's Mars rover Spirit survives until then. Though winter is months away, scientists are looking for a safe winter haven while the rover still has enough power to drive. Team members have concerns because Spirit is approaching its third Martian winter with more dust on its solar panels than it had during its first two winters. The dust lessens the panels' ability to convert sunlight into the electricity that Spirit needs for operations and survival.

Spirit's goal is to reach a slope on the north side of Home Plate that will tilt the rover's solar panels to the north about 25 degrees, facing the sun. The hope is that this will keep the rover's electronics alive during the cold, dark winter.

Last Update: 18 Aug 2011 (AMB)

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell

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Last Updated: 18 Aug 2011