Saturday, May 28, 2011

Abandoned Spirit

Spirit, the plucky little rover on Mars, is thought to be no more.

Spirit was the first of the two rovers, the other being Opportunity, to land on Mars. Originally, both were thought to have 90 day lifespans. That was in 2004.

While Opportunity landed in a Meridiani Planum, where new discoveries seemed to happen every day, Spirit landed in Gusev Crater where the discoveries of a more subtle nature.

The poor little guy got stuck and then lost functionality in one of his wheels. Unfortunately, the angle of his solar arrays wasn't very productive and he's been getting weaker ever since. Then, in March last year winter descended and Spirit slipped into a coma. NASA hoped it would wake up by spring but it has not. NASA will continue to listen to the end of the month (May, 2011) and then pull the plug.

I've always thought of Spirit as the dogged accountant brother to Opportunity, his flashy traveling salesman brother. Larry to Moe and Curly. Bud Abbott to Lou Costello. Hardy to Laurel. Martin to Lewis. The straight man.

Little Spirit is gone now. Let's remember him.

New York Times and here
Wikipedia: Spirit and Opportunity
JPL Rover Home Page and here

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