Characterization of traverse slippage experienced by Spirit rover on Husband Hill at Gusev crater

Rongxing Li, Bo Wu, Kaichang Di, Anelia Angelova, Raymond E. Arvidson, I. Chieh Lee, Mark Maimone, Larry H. Matthies, Lutz Richer, Robert Sullivan, Michael H. Sims, Rebecca Greenberger, Steven W. Squyres

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Spirit rover experienced significant slips traversing Husband Hill. This paper analyzes the slippage Spirit experienced from Sol 154 to Sol 737. Slippage with respect to terrain type and slope is computed using data downlinked from the rover, rover position, and orientation estimations from visual odometry (VO) and photogrammetry based bundle adjustment (BA) method. Accumulated slippage reached a maximum of 83.86 m on Sol 648. However, as Spirit descended into the Inner Basin, the direction of slippage reversed, and accumulated slippage approached zero by the end of the entire traverse. Eight local regions with significant slips and nineteen traverse segments have been analyzed. Slippage was found to be highly correlated to slope direction and magnitude; the reverse of slope directions in the ascending and descending portions of the traverse proves to be the main contributor to the observed cancellation of slippage. While the horizontal component of the slippage almost canceled out, the difference in elevation continually accumulated, mainly during the ascent. In general, long traverse segments created more slips than short ones. This is reflected in both the accumulated and individual slippages. In considering the four major Mars terrain types, Spirit performed best on bedrock, managing to drive on slopes close to 30°. Fine-grain surfaces were the most challenging; though progress was made on slopes up to 15°, slippages of over 100% (more slippage than distance traveled) occurred for short segments. The results of this work can be incorporate into a traverse planning framework in which rover slippage is minimized. Results can be employed in landed planetary missions for precision navigation to avoid potentially dangerous regions by considering expected slippage.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberE12S35
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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