Saturday, January 31, 2004

Spirit sends first image since computer crash
12:44 30 January 04
NewScientist.com news service

First picture since computer crash

The Mars rover Spirit has made an almost complete recovery from its computer troubles and on Thursday sent back its first new images.

The prospects for its twin, Opportunity, which landed on the opposite side of the planet, also look good. It is now expected to roll off its landing platform onto the dark surface of Meridiani Planum early on Saturday or Sunday - about three or four days earlier than originally predicted.

Spirit suffered an almost total loss of communication with mission control due to an apparent overload of its computer's file system and managers had initially expected it to be out of commission for two to three weeks.

But it is now expected to be back in full operation by Sunday. The first post-recovery image returned picture shows its robot arm still poised over a rock called Adirondack, just as it was when the problem began.

Most of the important data that had been stored in Spirit's flash memory - the apparent problem area - has now been recovered, including data it had taken of Adirondack using its Mossbauer spectrometer and Alpha-proton X-ray spectrometer.