Feeds

NASA kills comms with deceased Mars rover

Bids farewell to Spirit

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

NASA will today end attempts to contact its Spirit Mars rover, killed by lack of sunlight during a "stressful" Martian winter.

The agency last heard from Spirit on 22 March 2010, when it transmitted from the sand trap in which it had been stuck since April 2009. The orientation of its solar panels led scientists to conclude it probably wouldn't be able to generate enough power to survive a harsh Red Planet winter, and as the rover's internal temperature fell to an estimated -55°C, it was doomed to an icy death.

NASA explains: "Engineers' assessments in recent months have shown a very low probability for recovering communications with Spirit. Communications assets that have been used by the Spirit mission in the past, including NASA's Deep Space Network of antennas on Earth, plus two NASA Mars orbiters that can relay communications, now are needed to prepare for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission."

Dave Lavery, NASA's "program executive for solar system exploration", said: "We're now transitioning assets to support the November launch of our next generation Mars rover, Curiosity. 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."

Spirit landed on Mars on 3 January 2004, followed by its twin, Opportunity, on 24 January. The pair were expected to operate for three months, but battled heroically on. Opportunity is still operational, and continues to trundle across a plain of windblown sand on a "long-term trek" towards a crater dubbed "Endeavour".

The rovers' principal investigator, Steve Squyres, said last year when Opportunity broke the "longevity record" for operating on the surface of Mars: "Even though we know we might never get there, Endeavour is the goal that drives our exploration." ®

Bootnote

You can find the rovers' image gallery here. Try this impressive snap taken by Spirit back in 2006:

Spirit view of Mars. Pic: NASA

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.