It's now six whole years since NASA's little Rovers landed on Mars, for what were only to be three month long exploration projects. But the Rovers Spirit and Opportunity have been living up to their names, continuing to pursue their missions with power derived from their array of solar photovoltaic panels.
Image: Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.
Alas the attempts to rescue Spirit from the soft crust it broke through 10 months ago have not proven successful. So the little guy will now take up the role of a stationary Mars science platform, while it's buddy, Opportunity, keeps on rolling around the Red Planet. Although there is some urgency to re-orient Spirit's solar panels so it can readily receive sufficient power to maintain warmth for its electronics over the Mars Winter commencing in May.
As we noted in 2005 these indomitable robots just don't want to give up. A great endorsement for the reliability of solar power.
"There's a class of science we can do only with a stationary vehicle that we had put off during the years of driving," said Steve Squyres, a researcher at Cornell University and principal investigator for Spirit and Opportunity, quoted in the ::NASA Media Release "Degraded mobility does not mean the mission ends abruptly. Instead, it lets us transition to stationary science."