Image Credit: NASA / JPL / CornelÂ
Mars, a bitter planet whose temperature can drop below negative 200 degrees fahrenheit can be hostile towards surface life, whether physical or electronic. But one robot seems to have defied the red planet for over 1000 solar days, although currently it seems to be clinging to life as it is unable to move.
Despite its current situation, Spirit seems to be upbeat about its mission, sending out amazing images of its travels on the Martian world.
(New Scientist Space) The most detailed panoramic view ever obtained on Mars has been returned by NASA’s Spirit rover in time to mark its 1000th Martian day, or sol, on the Red Planet. [...]
Spirit took the images over a span of more than five months, while parked on a slope called Low Ridge Haven during winter in the planet’s southern hemisphere. The relatively small amount of winter sunshine meant the rover did not have enough power to drive anywhere.
Despite being unable to move, the robot is providing detailed images of its surrounds. Although some joke that the Spirit rover may be getting frustrated, scientists on Earth are pleased with not only the robots performance but also how long this vehicle has lasted, as it has surpassed the expectations of many engineers.
But the rover may still have some hope left as winter is fading on Mars, which may allow the rover to roam Mars for another season.
(Cosmic Log) Even though one of Spirit’s six wheels is gimpy, things are looking up: The depths of winter have passed, and in two weeks Spirit is due to come out of a troublesome period for radio communications caused by the sun’s position directly between Earth and Mars.
Spirit, and it’s rover friend on the other side Opportunity are providing those of us on Earth with a glimpse of what life would look on Mars on the surface level. By providing NASA, and more importantly the public with images as well as analysis of the red planet, the mission to Mars becomes not only clearer, but hopefully more of a priority.
No one really knows how long Spirit will last on Mars as it has “surpassed its warranty.” But hopefully the little bot will last long enough for us to know a little more about our red neighbor behind us, and perhaps teach us how to survive on that red desert planet.
Update: Corrected image size and assigned image credit.