Spirit, the first of the two rovers NASA sent to explore Mars, landed successfully on January 4, 2004 and went on to function spectacularly outliving the planned 90-day mission by over 20 times. Spirit stayed on the Red Planet for a record 6 years and drove 10 km, 10 times more than planned. During the last 6 years the remote controlled robot sent unprecedented information on the geology and atmosphere of Mars.
Artist’s Concept of Rover on Mars
on May 1, 2009, approximately 5 years 3 months later, disaster stuck.
Sprit become stuck in deep sand, rendering it immobile. For nine months
NASA scientists tried every maneuver on book to try get Spirit's wheel
unstuck. On January 26, 2010 NASA officials announced that the rover was
likely irrecoverably though it will continue to perform scientific
research from its current location.
The rover continues to
operate as a static science station. However, if the rover's static
position cannot be improved so that its solar panels can be tilted more
towards the Sun, or if the wind does not clean the rover's dusty solar
panels, the rover might not be able to collect sufficient sunlight to
generate enough power to keep it in operation. With the Martian winter
approaching, Spirit might only remain active till May 2010.
The first color photograph by Spirit
Spirit rover images its lander on the surface of Mars
Rocky terrain ahead
Spirit looks back at it’s own tracks
Spirit rover's solar panels covered with Dust
Breathtaking sunset at Gusev crater
View from the summit of Husband Hill
Sprit’s wheel stuck in sand.