Monday, November 06, 2006

Spirit busts a move!

Over the weekend, we commanded Spirit's first drive in over 200 sols, and she pulled through like a trouper, moving close to a meter. We basically pivoted around the current position about 30 degrees or so, in order to get some new material in front of the rover to look at. Through the winter, Spirit did a lot of interesting observations, but there wasn't a lot that was reachable with the arm instruments. Now, we're putting the arm down into the trenches that Spirit made when she dragged her wheel limping her way up to this position. The wheel drag basically made a trench in the soil, and in a number of places there is bright material exposed at the bottom of the trench. Usually the team gets all excited over bright material, because it frequently equates to salty, and by geologic inference, salty frequently means water in some form or another. Where we are right now, the water story is very slowly unfolding because of our lack of mobility, but we hope that doing some detailed work on the bright material in the wheel trenches will contribute to our understanding of where and how water was available in this area.

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