Above, one of the last images taken by the Mars rover Spirit (NASA/JPL/Cornell).
NASA this week announced it will cease attempts to re-establish contact with the Mars Exploration Rover "Spirit," which last communicated on March 22, 2010. From an item on the Space Coalition website:
The stuck in the sand Mars rover reached a point where there was inadequate energy to run its survival heaters. That being the case, the rover likely experienced colder internal temperatures last year than in any of its prior six years on Mars. Many critical components and connections would have been susceptible to damage from the cold. Today, a transmission from Earth will be the last in a series of attempts to reawaken the robot.
Spirit drove 4.8 miles (7.73 kilometers), more than 12 times the goal set for the mission. The drives crossed a plain to reach a distant range of hills that appeared as mere bumps on the horizon from the landing site; climbed slopes up to 30 degrees as Spirit became the first robot to summit a hill on another planet; and covered more than half a mile (nearly a kilometer) after Spirit's right-front wheel became immobile in 2006. The rover returned more than 124,000 images. It ground the surfaces off 15 rock targets and scoured 92 targets with a brush to prepare the targets for inspection with spectrometers and a microscopic imager.
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