Despite the dismal outlook, NASA will make a last-ditch effort to communicate with Spirit, which fell silent a little over a year ago. If there's still no contact in the next month or so, the space agency will scale back its listening campaign for Spirit and focus on its healthy twin, Opportunity. That Spirit has not called home suggests that something is more seriously wrong than just a power issue, said program manager John Callas at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
The solar-powered rover became bogged in a sand trap in 2009 during a routine drive. Despite efforts to wiggle free, it remained stuck and could not tilt itself toward the sun as the Martian winter approached. Without an adequate amount of energy reaching its solar panels, it went into hibernation. Engineers had expected Spirit to wake up once there was maximum sunlight where it's trapped. But that point came and went earlier this month with no response.