NASA Waits For Spirit To Send Signal From Mars   Leave a comment

Sound Asleep: NASA’s Mars rover Spirit, seen here in an artist’s rendering, has been hibernating through the the cold and dark Martian winter, and mission scientists aren’t sure when its solar panels will have charged the batteries enough for it to wake up.
text size A A A July 19, 2010
If you’re really desperate to escape the heat that’s blanketing North America, you might consider visiting Gusev Crater on Mars. It’s winter there, no problem with heat at all.

If you go, you’ll find a robot from Earth already there. The NASA rover called Spirit landed in Gusev Crater more than six years ago. Since then it has been snapping pictures and exploring the Red Planet’s watery past. Until recently, that is. Now the rover is silent. It’s in a kind of hibernation mode in order to survive the Martian winter. Almost every instrument, including the communication radio, is shut down.

EnlargeNASA
Spirit extends its arm on its 2,052nd day on Mars (Oct. 11, 2009), in an attempt to free the stuck rover whose wheels sunk into soft soil.
Winter is always a tough time for a solar-powered outpost on Mars. Days are short, the sun is low on the horizon, and it’s cold. Really cold. More than 60 degrees below zero.

“That’s colder than the rover has ever been on Mars,” says John Callas, mission manager for NASA’s rover program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “The rover was tested to that temperature here on the ground, but that was seven years ago with a brand new rover. This is a rover that is quite senior.”

And this was a mission that was intended to last 90 days, not seven years

Posted July 19, 2010 by dmacc502 in Nasa, space

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