It is done: Spirit will RIP on the Martian surface

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.


More like this

"We'll start by steering the wheels straight and driving, though we may have to steer the wheels to the right to counter any downhill slip to the left" ... OMG have I ever been there before . But not on Mars. The Martian rover Spirit got stuck in the dust on April 23rd of this year. One wheel…
Can you imagine driving around on roadless terrain with a four wheel drive vehicle for eight years and not ever changing a tire, getting a tuneup, adjusting the suspension, replacing the hydraulics or brakes, or doing any other service whatsoever on your vehicle? I've actually done that, and I'm…
This just in from NASA: PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Project will pass a historic Martian longevity record on Thursday, May 20. The Opportunity rover will surpass the duration record set by NASA's Viking 1 Lander of six years and 116 days operating on the surface of Mars. The…
The Spirit Mars Robot is getting stuck in the dust, but it is still sending back data. But mostly about dust. From NASA: PASADENA, Calif. -- The five wheels that still rotate on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit have been slipping severely in soft soil during recent attempts to drive, sinking…

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

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

By Riman Butterbur (not verified) on 24 May 2011 #permalink

It sure had a run way beyond expectations.

By Charles Sullivan (not verified) on 24 May 2011 #permalink

That's going to be one lonely rover when it eventually wakes up...

By Vince whirlwind (not verified) on 24 May 2011 #permalink

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.

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

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

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.

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).