Lost in Space: NASA Gives Up on Mars Rover Spirit

Another one of humanity's most interesting vehicles has been deemed lost to the adversities of space and other planets. After loosing contact with Mars Exploration Rover Spirit on March 22, 2010, NASA announced it is ready to finally give up trying to raise the vehicle from the dead and put it back on its track on Martian soil.

On Wednesday, the American space agency will make a final attempt to get in touch with the lost rover. Hopes are (although those hopes have proven futile in the past 10 months or so) that the rover might be reawakened by the sun, after what was a harsh Martian winter.

Spirit arrived on Mars, at the Gusev Crater, on January 3, 2004. It left Earth alongside its brother vehicle Opportunity. Their mission, the first on the site exploration of the Red Planet, was supposed to last for three months. However, the two rovers managed to impress the entire world by continuing to operate for years after they were supposed to break down.

The entire Mars rover project cost NASA $820 million. In return for their money, the agency received the single slowest, most expensive self-propelled vehicles ever made by man: 0.18 km/h is the vehicles' top speed. Now, NASA is getting ready to launch, by the end of the year, the third Martian rover, the Curiosity.

"We're now transitioning assets to support the November launch of our next generation Mars rover, Curiosity," said Dave Lavery, NASA’s program executive for solar system exploration. "However, while we no longer believe there is a realistic probability of hearing from Spirit, the Deep Space Network may occasionally listen for any faint signals when the schedule permits." 
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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