NASA Gives up on Silent Spirit Rover

Natalie Wolchover:

Spirit’s final troubles began in April 2009, when it got stuck in a patch of Martian sand. Engineers worked for eight months attempting to free the rover, but to no avail. In its stationary position, Spirit’s solar panels weren’t able to tilt toward the sun and so it lost power during the winter of 2009 and 2010.

When Spirit lost power, its internal temperature plunged to minus 67 degrees Fahrenheit — the coldest it had ever experienced — and it likely sustained electronic damage that prevented it from powering back up last spring.

Mission managers had been considering scaling back the listening campaign from once a day to once a week, but on Monday, Callas notified the rover team that he decided against that plan, saying that any continued effort would cut into other missions.

NASA got an amazing seven years of scientific discovery out of this amazing little machine. It is sad to see it go.