Monday, July 11, 2011

Mars Rover Spirit: Mission Over After 7 Years on Martian Surface

Posted by Vishnureddy at 8:36 AM

Share this Post and Be Awesome

PHOTO: NASA Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity have been exploring regions on opposite sides of Mars since January 2004.

The mission of the Mars rover Spirit is finally over after seven remarkable years roaming the cold Martian surface, NASA said today. Spirit landed on Mars in January 2004, and was expected at the time to last about three months. Instead, it kept going for more than five years. "We always knew we would get to this point," said John Callas, the project manager for Spirit and its twin rover Opportunity, which is still operating. "We're here today because we wore Spirit out."
You may recall that the rover got stuck in 2009 on the edge of a small crater, and when controllers on earth couldn't free it after months of trying, they knew the clock was ticking.
Among other things, they couldn't move the rover to a sun-facing slope for the six-month-long Martian winter, so that its solar panels could gather at least enough energy to run heaters and the rover's radio system. The solar panels are considered essentially useless unless the sun shines almost directly down on them.
PHOTO: NASA Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity have been exploring regions on opposite sides of Mars since January 2004.
NASA Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity have... View Full Size
Why Take a One-Way Trip to Mars? Watch Video
Space Shuttle Endeavour's Last Launch Watch Video
May 18, 2009: Hubble Telescope Repair Watch Video
Without heaters, the temperature of the rover's electronics, NASA says, probably dropped to something like 65 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Its last confirmed signal came on March 22, 2010.
After the Martian winter ended, engineers tried repeatedly to get the rover's computer to respond to signals. They sent hailing signals once a week. No joy. They said they would make one more try overnight and then stop.
"We're all taking a realistic look at the situation," said David Lavery, NASA'S program executive for solar system exploration. "We drove it basically until its wheels came off."
Spirit's twin, Opportunity, is still driving slowly on the opposite side of the planet, making a forced march toward a large crater called Endeavour. It landed a month after Spirit arrived.
A reminder: NASA's gotten its money's worth out of the rovers. When Spirit landed, NASA (perhaps playing down expectations), said it planned a mission that would last 90 "sols," or Martian days. Today was sol number 2,537.
"Yes, there's a sadness that we have to say goodbye to Spirit, but we also remember what a massive overwhelming success it was," Callas said in a teleconference with reporters.
Lavery was asked if there would be an informal "funeral" for the rover.
"I think it's more in the spirit of an Irish wake," he said.

Love to hear what you think! Thanks Would make us Smile :)

Receive all updates via Facebook. Just Click the Like Button Below else Hit close icon


Search Entire Site

Custom Search
back to top