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. First


    May 25, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • John


      May 25, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • JTSJ17

      No you weren't! HA HA HA HA

      May 25, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. asgardshill

    Send Captain John Carter to check it out. KAOR!

    May 25, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Skynet

      Did you say John CONNOR?

      May 25, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Carl

    Wonder if Vin Diesel got to it?

    May 25, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. nasaman

    hmmmmm,,,,,, I'm waiting to talk to E.T. .. Leave me alone !!!

    May 25, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jo Jo McGee

    Maybe the phone that Spirit was using was from AT&T.....not Verizon.....CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW???

    May 25, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. nasaman

    ....and we have homeless, jobless hungry Americans and this is what we do with our money instead ??? REALLY ??? The people we pay to sit and listen for a robot to talk back....... WOW.. I want that job !!!!

    May 25, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • AGeek

      You know what? For something designed for a three MONTH mission, we got darn near six YEARS. That's FAR more of a bargain than anything else the US government has delivered in DECADES.

      May 25, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      But you couldn't do their job, because you're an uneducated idiot.

      May 25, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pedro

      You can't handle that job.

      May 25, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just Trust Me

      We will always have homeless, jobless and clueless.
      But that shouldn't stop those of us from excelling and reaching our potential as a race.

      May 25, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Major Tom

      What you fail to realize is that less than 0.6% of the fed budget goes to fund all of NASA.

      May 25, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jessica

      Really NASAMan? Someone turns on a computer program that listens for the single and then she goes and does other more important work while the program runs. Then she stops back from time to time to peruse the data and if no single she again goes on to do other things.

      May 25, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Canadian Genius

      OK, here it comes.....

      I'd rather pay money for space missions than hand it out to a bunch of lazy welfare cases.

      OK, bring it on.

      May 25, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chris

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

    Really? Did they really have to use a movie quote?

    May 25, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      That wasn't a NASA quote. That's CNN using a movie quote to summarize what NASA said.

      May 25, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Reading comprehension fail.

      May 25, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Canadian Genius

      Rover was sent there for cutting the heads off parking meters, apparently.

      May 25, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. scribble

    Energizer bunny to the rescue!

    May 25, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. wes


    May 25, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jameskim


    May 25, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jessica

      No, boo hoo

      May 25, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  11. rm

    Its last transmission was, "MY GOD, ITS FULL OF STARS".

    May 25, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Roverman3000

    It's all Obama's fault. It would work if he wasn't so concerned with Isreal.

    May 25, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. killallthewhiteman

    "What we have here is a failure to communicate. Some rovers, just can't be reached"

    May 25, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bob223

    We have learned a lot from space exploration. And learning more about the other planets in our solar system has helped up understand our own Mother Earth. Some don't see the need or importance of NASA; including some in the current administration. OH! a side item. On the placement of the retired shuttles: What was New York's contribution to the Space program and how was it decided to be of much greater importance than NASA itself? Obama had nothing to do with it? Yea, right.

    May 25, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Fast Fred

    Naww.... Obama's is just gathering budget info for the next round of foreign aid for England.
    The Queen is running short of jewelry polish.

    May 25, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe

      LOL.... yeah, and at the added expense of who made them what they are.... stealing off the backs of the
      Brit working class !!!

      May 25, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
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