The &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/05/27/29346.html ' target=_blank>Mars rover Opportunity resumed rolling freely across the Martian surface Saturday after scientists freed it from a sand dune where it had been mired for nearly five weeks, NASA officials said.
Engineers at the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2003/01/16/42120_.html ' target=_blank>Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the mission, cheered when images beamed back to Earth showed the rover's wheels were free.
"We've got a working rover on Mars that cost $400 million to build and ... keep working," project manager Jim Erickson said. "I'd like to wear it out rather than lose it."
A photograph taken by Opportunity and posted on the laboratory's Web site showed the long tracks of its wheels crossing a featureless dune.
Opportunity's wheels started slipping April 26 during a planned 295-foot trip. While trying to drive over a foot-high sand dune, the robotic explorer stopped moving, its wheels hub-deep in soft soil.
US President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Qadimi signed an agreement on July 26 to formally end the USA's military presence in the country by the end of the year