Monday, January 3, 2011

Mars Rover Spirit Still Quiet

NASA’s Mars rover Spirit has had its odometer stuck on 4.8 miles for more than 18 months and has not transmitted any data or signals since March 2010. NASA doesn’t know if Spirit is dead or alive, but is continuing to listen for any peep as the rover remains trapped in a sand trap. “There's a realistic possibility that Spirit may never wake up again,” Dave Lavery, Mars rover program executive at NASA headquarters, told AP's Alicia Chang.

Spirit’s solar panels rely on light from the Sun to charge. The Sun will continue to provide increased daily sunlight until it reaches its highest-point in the sky in mid-March. After that, the odds of the rover coming back online dwindle. If Spirit doesn’t transmit a signal by March, it’s “probably not going to,” Lavery said. But, he said, the mission will continue to listen after March, but will scale back the daily passes of the orbiters.

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