- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 5, 2005

PASADENA, Calif. (Reuters) — NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity is making tracks across the Martian landscape again, after nearly five weeks stuck in a sand dune, engineers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena said yesterday.

NASA engineers cheered this weekend when images returned from Mars showed the six-wheeled geological research vehicle was finally freed from the dune and making tracks, according to a posting on the laboratory Web site, www.jpl.nasa.gov.

Engineers worked for nearly five weeks to maneuver the craft out of the dune.

Opportunity and its twin robotic explorer, Spirit, are 16 months into their mission and have been traversing opposite sides of the Red Planet since landing there in January 2004.

Early in the mission, Opportunity found layered bedrock bearing geological evidence of a shallow ancient sea. More than a year later, Spirit found layered bedrock after driving more than two miles.

Opportunity got stuck April 26 while trying to cross the soft sand of the Meridiani Planum, a ripple-shaped dune.

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