Roving for Ten Years

The first color image returned by the rover Spirit in Jan 2004.  Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

The first color image returned by the rover Spirit in Jan 2004. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

It’s hard to believe but true, this year marks 10-years of roving the red planet. The Mars Exploration Rover Spirit landed on Mars on 4 January 2004 (UTC).

The image above was taken on 6 January 2004 by the rover Spirit. At the time this was the highest resolution image returned from another planet. It is still one of the best images taken.

A month after the image was taken Spirit used the RAT or Rock Abrasion Tool to drill into a rock dubbed Adirondack (on 6 Feb 2004).

In May of 2009 Spirit got stuck in soft soil. The soil consisted of iron sulfate which does not provide very good traction.

Problems with the flash memory were evident a few months later in October. Then in late November and into December problems with the wheels on Spirit began to crop up.

In January 2010 Spirit stopped roving and became a stationary science platform. In addition to the previously mentioned problems during 2009, communications problems were also occurring. The last contact with Spirit was on 22 March 2010, although later unsuccessful attempts were made until May 2011.

Spirit’s mission was ended on 25 May 2011.

The matching rover, Opportunity landed on Mars on 25 January 2004 (UTC) and is still conducting science and yes roving.

Just incredible.  See a complete time-line from NASA.

As an aside:  I meant to publish this back on 05 Jan, but for some reason it never made it on the queue.  Oh it was my fault all right.  Good thing these rovers were a set.  

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