The last communication from the Mars Rover Spirit was on March 22, 2010. A few moments ago NASA announced that there would be no more attempts to contact the space robot after a transmission that will end on May 25th.


It is suspected that Spirit’s internal circuitry was damaged by very low temperatures experienced during the Martian winter. While it was hoped that solar panels would allow heaters to bring the robot back to life, this apparently has not happened. The resources that would be needed to continue what seems to be a fruitless attempt at communication are now needed elsewhere. According to NASA,

Engineers’ assessments in recent months have shown a very low probability for recovering communications with Spirit. Communications assets that have been used by the Spirit mission in the past, including NASA’s Deep Space Network of antennas on Earth, plus two NASA Mars orbiters that can relay communications, now are needed to prepare for NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission. MSL is scheduled to launch later this year.


  1. #1 Riman Butterbur
    May 24, 2011

    I bet there’s a lot of mourning at NASA.

    Remember the poignant eulogy to the first Mars lander in The Planetary Report?

  2. #2 Charles Sullivan
    May 24, 2011

    It sure had a run way beyond expectations.

  3. #3 Vince whirlwind
    May 25, 2011

    That’s going to be one lonely rover when it eventually wakes up…

  4. #4 Joshua Zelinsky
    May 25, 2011

    You did good, Spirit, you did good.

    (Also, it might just be that I cry really easily but I did actually cry at the xkcd from a few months ago about Spirit )

  5. #5 Art
    May 25, 2011

    Computerized mechanisms don’t have souls; I doubt humans have souls.

    But Spirit gave worked longer and harder, and provided more fodder for science, than anyone had any reason to expect. If a human gave such a generous return on so small an investment, under such lousy conditions we would say they had a lot of heart, grit and determination. We would declare them a hero.

    Spirit may not have had a lot of smarts or independent creativity, but it had heart. It is, and always will be, a heroic inspiration.

    I get he feeling that one day, perhaps years from now, when the resources are free and some smart-assed intern points it to in the right direction on a lark there will be a faint signal of a forlorn robotic explorer requesting orders.

    And in a decade, or ten, when we land humans on Mars, they will wander out on a lark and find the brave little explorer and erect a cairn.

  6. #6 gwen
    May 25, 2011

    There is nothing I can possibly add to the previous posts…*sniff,sniff*

  7. #7 Bodach
    May 25, 2011

    Thanks, little guy, and thanks to everyone @ NASA that could pull something like this off.

  8. #8 Patrick Tomlinson
    May 25, 2011

    I’m actually really sorry to hear that. Who knew I’d get emotionally invested in the little critter. Keep on rollin’, Opportunity!

  9. #9 Rory
    May 26, 2011

    Very well said, Art. Maybe someday after we’ve gone to Mars our kids will visit the Smithsonian and see Spirit in a well-deserved place of honor.

  10. #10 Paco
    May 26, 2011

    Wow. I feel like a friend has died. I hope they build you and your brother (sister?) a statue on the Washington DC Mall.

    Kudos to NASA for getting it right (unlike the abysmally stupid and wasteful ISS and shuttle programs).