Spirit Rover Status
You know it had to happen sooner or later! After six years of performing valuable scientific research on the planet Mars, the Spirit Rover has found its final parking spot. On January 26, 2010, NASA designated the once mobile robot a “stationary science platform.”
Last April, the Spirit Rover was traveling along the edge of a plateau named Home Plate when its wheels broke through an icy crust and became stuck in the loose sand below. For the last ten months, scientists had been trying to free the robot. As you know, the Spirit Rover had lost the functionality of one of it’s wheels back in 2006 which made the task of extricating the hardy robot much more difficult. With the Martian winter beginning this month, scientists decided to stop trying to move the robot and instead, focused on tilting the solar panels toward the sun.
The current tilt of the Rover is not ideal. The panels should be pointed to Martian north, but given the unfortunate circumstance of being stuck, the vehicle could not be moved into the proper alignment and the solar panels are still tilted nine degrees to the south. This may cause the rover to lose power and subsequently, contact with Earth for an extended period of time this winter.
As of now, Spirit is parked for the winter, but it is not dead! Check back with us during the Martian spring for another update. If you can’t wait that long to get more information about the Spirit Rover or any of NASA’s other Mars Rovers, NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Mission Site is a great place to keep your eye on.