|NASA Model of the Spirit Rover on Mars.|
The rover is likely frozen and dust covered, unable to generate enough power from its solar cells to reawaken. It was hoped that the Martian summer would thaw it out, but it doesn't seem to be the case. It is a sad loss for NASA, the plucky rover has been a scientific workhorse on the Martian surface.
Spirit was originally designed to work for just three months, but ended up roving for over 6 years! That's 25 times what was expected, imagine living 1500 years! It has accomplished so much in its short time, including studying interesting rocks, climbing hills, examining soil, peaking into craters, and traveling 7.7 kilometers since landing.
Spirit's "twin", Opportunity, is still functioning on the opposite side of Mars, working just as hard for just as long as Spirit has. They will be joined by a new rover soon, in a few months, the golfcart-sized "Curiosity" Mars Science Laboratory will be launching. This rover will be able to cover a wider range of the Martian surface and has better instruments than any previous mission.
Spirit will be missed. However, we got more then our money's worth out of the little fellow. It's work will aid in the future study and exploration of Mars. Perhaps, one day, a human will find Spirit among the deserts of Mars, since we hope to be going there soon. We might find out exactly what happened to the rover to cause it to shut down. But until then, we have to be thankful for all the hard work of the rover and scientists involved in the mission.
|Spirit on Mars as interpreted by xkcd.|