Valiant Spirit rover finally goes to Mars heaven

As of today, NASA is officially abandoning hope of ever making contact with the six-wheeled Spirit rover on Mars. It's a sad, quiet end for the humble 'bot, which exceeded NASA's original expectations twenty times over.

It's been a long year and two months since NASA last heard from Spirit on March 22, 2010. NASA had hoped that it would be able to reestablish communication with the rover after a cold and nearly sunless Martian winter, but it looks like the planet's spring was unable to recharge Spirit's survival heaters. It's clear to NASA now that Spirit will never phone home, ever again.

Deployed in 2004 to Mars, Spirit was originally designed for a three-month long mission to collect information on the planet's rock, soil and climate, but it was able to keep going for seven years. In 2009, the the first signs of doom for Spirit became apparent after it found itself stuck in soft soil and unable to free itself. Sadly, it's been stuck there ever since, but continued to beam info until last year.

Without any means to reconnect with the rover, NASA's calling it quits and shifting all support over to the launch of Curiosity, its next Mars rover. Launch for Curiosity is scheduled for November, and as we mentioned two months ago, it will not have 3D cameras, much to James Cameron's chagrin.


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