xkcd Spirit rover comic

roverxkcd.png (Click for the rest.)


  1. Yeah, having scenes like this running through your head is pretty much the reason not to use dogs for one way space missions.

  2. Pretty much sums up my thoughts. Maybe when we have outposts there, they can retrieve it for the spacesonian museum.

  3. it’s a machine, people. (and I have a black, shriveled heart)

    I can’t imagine the elation of the people working on this project, having been able to collect data for years after the projected life of the rover.

    In an episode of COSMOS, Carl Sagan suggested that one day we would send rovers to Mars and the world would watch through their cameras as they discovered many wonders. I guess it’s a good thing he wasn’t around to see how quickly the world got bored with rocks. I’d like to think he’d still be giddy about it, though.

    1. I don’t think it’s the actual rover that made us sad, it’s the personified rover in the comic that made us sad. Actually, it’s more “dog-ified” than anything else. Now, had the real rover never existed and he just drew a comic like this, I don’t think people would have been sad either. The combination of the two produced a strange effect of making people feel sad for an inanimate object.

      1. Hell I was sad about the rover BEFORE this comic. I hope when we do get to Mars we collect our two wayward scouts and give them the respect they deserve.

  4. Be sure to tune in for part two, where after an alien space probe collides with Spirit, it turns into S’pit, a giant angry cloud entity that heads off to Earth to find its makers…

    1. Damn it, you beat me to it. I don’t think the sadness of the post would have been so great without the influence of Wall-E, leading me to automatically project human emotions onto cute little machines like that…

  5. How about we make a space program as a stimulus thing to fix the economy. We could go to the moon and even Mars. Or we could cancel manned space and give to the trillion dollar march into banker pockets.

    Don’t worry little guy, sooner or later we will be there to pick you up. Truth is I hope we never take him home but instead house him in a nice museum in the thriving capitol city of free Mars.

  6. Rather poignant. Makes me want to hug my old Tandy Model 102 (my favorite piece of field equipment and long time friend…).

  7. I’m with redmonkey – goddamn anthropomorphism at 6 a.m. I’m not generally a softie but I have a tepid spot in my heart for these rovers. (Good boy…)

  8. Usually I regret reading comments on articles, but not on Boing Boing. I was glad to see somebody else was sad.

  9. I came here to read the comments even though I read the cartoon last night. I needed some closure to my sad-robot feelings. Thanks # 1, 7, 9, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21-23…. Particularly 17, though Maxwell’s anthropomorphism can be a little crushing.

    captcha: material careened


  10. Wall-E was far from the first. Neither was “The Brave Little Toaster”, and it was published in 1980 (the movie came seven years later).

    We (humans) seem to haves personified our tools and machines as long as we have had them. “Enola Gay”? Boats with eyes? A hauberk named Emma? Various named swords?

    I figure that if your average car has a designed life expectancy of 150,000 (I think in miles, but it doesn’t really matter), it would have to run for 3.24 million to match Spirit’s record. Great job, NASA.

    And it isn’t done yet. It just won’t be roving any longer.

  11. I’m also reminded of that killer final scene from “Silent Running,” where the little drone-robot, all alone, tends the garden in the geodesic dome adrift in space.

  12. Count me among the sad. Munroe is damn good at what he does. If only he would use these powers for good.

    I don’t think we’re going to have trouble accepting AIs as equals. We already feel sorry for AS’s like this guy.

    “Guy.” See? I can’t help it. And he IT’s not even cuddly.

  13. Dammit. <strike> is a perfectly legitimate text mod, BoingBoing!

    OK, my own fault for not previewing. Or, of course, remembering that BB doesn’t allow <strike>.

    The third sentence in my post above should be stricken, as should the word ‘he’ in the last sentence.

  14. Many of you feel bad for this rover. That is because you crazy. It has no feelings. And the new one is much better.

    Honestly, though, I couldn’t help but go, “Awww… poor rover.”

    1. Many of us feel sad for the rover in the comic strip. Unlike the one that’s really on Mars, this one *does* have feelings.

  15. in fact, the reason that CD is not published is that we had trouble both identifying and acquiring the rights to all the tracks. the copyright office denied our claim for a sound recording saying that overlaying and mixing were not authorship…


  16. Why would a dutiful rover expect to return home (which I assume is earth)? This makes no sense to me. Thery’re put on Mars to execute a mission, explore, and do all sorts of cool stuff. Why return to earth to hang from the ceiling of the Smithsonian for a bunch of nose-picking fatsos to ignore.

    I hope my Honda isn’t longing to return to the Honda plant in Ohio.

    Maybe I’m bitter because mr stick figure cartoon guy’s cartoon makes in on boingboing, but my concept album about rovers didn’t.

  17. It ain’t over until the electronics freeze. As long as it talks to us there’s still science it can do- NASA mentions collecting data to determine whether Mars has a solid or liquid core.

    Perhaps some future generation will bring them back, but I’m sure the people who put them there would prefer that they stay there.

  18. We pray for one last landing
    On the globe that gave us birth;
    Let us rest our eyes on the fleecy skies
    And the cool, green hills of Earth.

    — Robert A. Heinlein

  19. I have to concur that I would prefer its shrine be in place. A nice little bubble with a plaque and some landscaping… This can be done. We can do this! I’m in; let’s go!

  20. Touching. Definitely touching.

    Asimov would be turning in his grave…attaching human feelings to machines… stop over-analysing.

  21. We finally have justification for a manned Mars mission.

    “We go to Mars not because it is easy, but because dammit that little rover needs a hug!”

    And yes, I cried. Wanna make something of it, punk?

    1. he reason they don’t is because the old mop is portrayed as an ex-lover, someone we might feel a little bad for, but ultimately hope to see move on. If they portrayed it as a child or pet abandoned to the cold, we’d feel a lot more sorry for them.

      Of course, they don’t want us to really connect with the mop – nobody would ever buy a swiffer.

      Anyways, the moral of the comic is obviously to include a GOOD_JOB message in all remote control interfaces.

  22. “And all I ask is a merry yarn
    from a laughing fellow-rover
    And quiet sleep and a sweet dream
    when the long trick’s over.”

  23. We didn’t do a good job of telling you this before, Spirit. But you ARE home. You were built to thrive exactly where you are. Of all the things ever brought forth from Earth, you and Opportunity are the only ones entitled to call Mars home.

  24. By the time we humans get to Mars, Spirit and it’s brood are going to be armed and waiting.

    Much love Spirit!!

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