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NASA's Mars Rover has Uncertain Future as Sixth Anniversary Passes

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posted on Jan, 10 2010 @ 09:43 AM
In another thread Here, I was tracking the unsuccessful efforts to free the Mars Rover "Spirit" from a sand trap that it has been stuck in for the past nine months.

Last Sunday (January 3, 2010) marked the Sixth anniversary of Spirit landing on Mars. In those six years, Spirit has driven a total of 7.72 km (4.8 miles) and has made some remarkable discoveries.

However, it seems likely that Spirit has driven to its final destination back in May, 2009 when it broke through a crusty surface and got stuck in the sand. The rover can still do plenty of science where it is stuck (it got stuck in a very interesting place) -- but it may not survive long enough to do all that science. Its solar panels may not be positioned correctly to keep the batteries powered though the upcoming Martian winter -- and without power the Rover may freeze to death.

Here's an excerpt from an article describing Spirit's present dire situation and how it got there:

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars rover Spirit will mark six years of unprecedented science exploration and inspiration for the American public on Sunday. However, the upcoming Martian winter could end the roving career of the beloved, scrappy robot....

...A sand trap and balky wheels are challenges to Spirit's mobility that could prevent NASA's rover team from using a key survival strategy for the rover. The team may not be able to position the robot's solar panels to tilt toward the sun to collect power for heat to survive the severe Martian winter.
More here:
Source Article: NASA's Mars Rover has Uncertain Future as Sixth Anniversary Nears

The other Rover -- "Opportunity" -- will mark its sixth anniversary in about two weeks (January 25, 2010), and it is still operating in relative good health.

[edit on 1/10/2010 by Soylent Green Is People]

posted on Jan, 10 2010 @ 02:28 PM
Not to shabby considering they had an estimated life span of around 90 days when they were launched.

posted on Jan, 10 2010 @ 07:37 PM
reply to post by zombiemann

Yes -- this is one of those rare occasions that the government got their money's worth.

Lets hope Opportunity manages to survive another couple of years and NASA keeps funding its operations. I have the feeling that NASA will pull the plug monetarily even before the Rover dies.

posted on Jan, 10 2010 @ 07:43 PM
R.I.P. Spirit!! Bless you and all your robotic goodness. *takes hat off and places over chest* May we one day recover you and stick you in a museum to sit lifeless for the rest of your eternity.


posted on Jan, 10 2010 @ 09:09 PM

Originally posted by Myollinir
R.I.P. Spirit!!

Hey, Spirit's not dead yet! Let's just wait and see what happens first.

This blog contains a summery of what has been done so far, for anyone interested. Spirit's still "extricating"

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