Spirit may be fading on Mars, NASA says
An August 2004 image from NASA's Mars rover Spirit shows a rock outcrop on the red planet.
May 25th, 2011
11:48 AM ET

Spirit may be fading on Mars, NASA says

NASA to Mars rover:  Phone home or else.

The space agency said it will reach out to contact the Mars rover Spirit a final time Wednesday after a series of unanswered attempts.

NASA speculates that an extreme Martian winter may have frozen the rover’s communication apparatus or weakened its energy level, hindering its ability to communicate.

In a press release Tuesday, NASA said, in essence, what we have here is a failure to communicate.

"We no longer believe there is a realistic probability of hearing from Spirit," Dave Lavery, NASA’s program executive for solar system exploration, said in the release.

Created for a three-month mission, Spirit landed on Mars in January 2004 and exceeded its intended life span by several years, giving scientists an in-depth look at the surface conditions of the red planet.

But there have been obstacles - namely massive dust storms, paralyzing sandboxes and plain ol' feisty weather that has challenged the rover's functionality.

Over most of the past seven years though, despite various violent conditions, Spirit has always managed to re-establish connection.

Not this time.

The last transmission received by the rover was March 22, 2010, NASA said.

The rover program will now focus its energies on Spirit’s twin rover, Opportunity, which landed 21 days after Spirit. Also, NASA is prepping the November launch of Curiosity, a bigger, more-tricked out rover (six 20-inch wheels?) slated to arrive on Mars in mid-2012.

As for Spirit, NASA said any communication from the rover will basically be relegated to voice mail.

“The Deep Space Network may occasionally listen for any faint signals when the schedule permits," Lavery is quoted in the release.

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Filed under: Mars • Space • Technology
soundoff (230 Responses)
  1. Bob

    It was not the weather that got the Spirit. It was the Martians they disabled the communication console since they are launching a full onslaught against Earth on October 21st 2011 THE END OF THE WORLD MUH HA HA HA HA HA

    May 26, 2011 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
  2. tj

    There is no question that it's Solar Cells were stolen

    May 26, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Smuba

    "No, it wasn't the airplanes. It was BEAUTY that killed the beast!"

    May 26, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Farout

    I think it would be Neat if the rovers had small packed parachutes that could be deployed after no contact in 30 days. It wouldn't do much, but would be cool if the wind caught it.

    May 27, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Auth

    With respect, it's not true that lierbals realize that Obama is bad for America. They see him only as incompetent not able to bring the liberal utopia into existence. They don't believe that a liberal utopia isn't a good idea. They just think Obama wasn't able to make it happen, mostly (they think) because of the obstructionist Republicans.In other words, they live in an alternate universe and have no connection whatever to reality. They are also unprofessional, unethical, and dishonest, as the behavior of this CNN reporter clearly shows.

    April 23, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
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