The Mars Rover was the hardiest of veteran planetary vehicles. Yet this trustworthy supplier of data from the Red Planet may have met its Waterloo.
A trip down the landscape of Mars is no easy job. Yet the Mars Rover was one of those vehicles that were built tough. It never gave up its task missions and nor did it die down on the ground control staff which kept in touch with its signals on earth.
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However, now it seems that even this hero among terrain vehicles has reached its breaking point as far as facing new challenges is concerned.
It was out there on the Martian terrain exploring the hills of Marathon Valley. This feature lies on the western frontier of the 14 mile diameter Endeavor Crater.
The crater is situated in Meridiani Planum. That was when the ground control decided to make the rover scale the steepest hill on the surface of Mars.
This was going to be a first time experience in the dozen year history of exploring the Red Planet. As it climbed its way up Knudsen Ridge, the rover with six wheels managed to creep up a 32 degree slope.
There were chances of slippage. So more wheel revolutions were added to make the maiden journey into novel territory easier. However, as they say there is always a chance of failure in risk-taking and adventurism despite the obvious benefits of moving out of one’s comfort zone.
Well, that is exactly what happened. As the Opportunity Rover tried for a third time to scale the hill, its abilities petered out. It could only cover a distance of nine centimeters.
On a flat surface it could have gone on and on for at least 66 feet. There also would not have been any chances of slippage.
So the team which was monitoring the rover’s climb uphill from earth decided this challenge was a little too much for even such a robust vehicle.
The Mars Rover was sent the necessary signals to beat a retreat from the insurmountable task at hand. Ever since this formidable task was attempted, which remained a challenge that was too much for the rover to face, it has made at least eight drives.
Among these can be included a reverse maneuver down a hill. The Mars Rover may be getting on in years and thus climbing a hill that is simply too steep may not be a part of its functional repertoire anymore.