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February 12, 2004

Spirit Kicks Into High Gear

Rover Sets Mars One-Day Distance Record   

The Spirit rover shattered a one-day distance record on Mars, rolling nearly 70 feet across the planet's rocky surface, NASA said Tuesday. The drive covered more than three times the greatest distance that NASA's tiny Sojourner rover ever traveled in a day on its own 1997 mission to Mars, mission manager Jim Erickson said. Spirit drove "blind" about half the distance, following a planned route to a stopping point. For the second half of the short trip, the rover drove to a second stopping point, autonomously executed a turn, and then rolled onward before stopping, Erickson said. NASA has sent Spirit toward a crater nicknamed "Bonneville" that sits about 800 feet from where the spacecraft landed. NASA hopes the s

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