A Nasa buggy is free again on Mars after suffering every driver’s nightmare – getting stuck in sand.
Opportunity got bogged down in loose martian soil last month as it tried to cross between two dunes to head for Victoria Crater half a mile away.
The rear two of the robot rover’s six wheels spun in the soft sand as operators in California tried to free it. They finally got back onto solid ground it by edging the rover very slowly backwards over several days.
Opportunity is exploring the Meridiani Planum near the Martian equator. Nasa has decided to name the sand trap Jammerbugt, meaning the Bay of Lamentation in Danish.
Opportunity and sister rover Spirit will get a software upgrade this month over a distance of 242 million miles. They are still roaming the Red Planet more than two and a quarter years after they landed on missions designed to last just 90 days.
Spirit is resting out winter with a broken wheel in Gusev Crater on the opposite side of Mars to Opportunity.
The image is courtesy NASA/JPL.