Photo Gallery: The Best Views From Spirit's 6 Years of Mars Roving

By Aline Reynolds | February 19, 2010 10:23 am

After more than six years of exploring the Red Planet, the Mars rover Spirit will rove no more. The robotic adventurer is mired in a sand bed, and NASA has officially given up on trying to extricate it.

While it will continue to operate as a “stationary research platform” for the time being, there’s no denying that the rover’s swashbuckling days are over. No longer will Spirit spot an interesting landmark in the distance and gamely trek towards it, with the possibility of a fresh scientific discovery around every corner and under every rock. This photo gallery is a well-deserved eulogy for Spirit, in which we’ll survey its travels and achievements.

In 2003, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory launched Spirit and its twin rover, Opportunity, on a three-month mission to investigate Martian terrain and atmosphere on opposite sides of the planet. The solar-powered rovers surpassed NASA’s wildest dreams, extending their missions by nearly 25 times their anticipated lengths.

Since landing on Mars in January 2004, Spirit has snapped more than 127,000 pictures. The robot probed beneath the worn surface of Mars, analyzing the microstructure of rocks and soil with a sophisticated array of instruments: spectrometers, microscopic imagers, and other tools. Spirit has also gathered strong evidence that water once flowed on the Martian surface, which could have created a hospitable environment for microbial life.

Spirit and its twin rover (which is still traveling on) will be replaced by more advanced machines that will roll onto the Martian soil in the coming decades. But Spirit will be remembered long after its operating system flickers off for good. Like a robotic Neil Armstrong, the rover has earned its place in the space explorers’ hall of heroes.

All text by Aline Reynolds. Image: NASA/JPL/Cornell

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Photo Gallery, Space, Technology
  • mike

    breath taking views of mars from this fine brave robot, my thoughts r with u spirit has u settle fown for the long cold winter
    good night

  • My Reference Frame

    What these guys, the people behind the robots, have been able to accomplish is just stunning to me.

  • Calv

    Absolutely stunning. the detail in the pictures, the clarity…. love it.

  • Oppurtunity

    Go Spirit! You’ll last through the winter. You’ve already done so much for science, and you’ll continue to advance our understanding of Mars. No little green men here, at least n0t yet.

  • Daryoosh Matsudaira

    That’s the Spirit!
    Wish we could have larger images to use on our desk top!

  • Dave

    I never thought the demise of a robot could be so sad….

  • Ron Bennett

    I have been following Spirit and Opportunity for the last 6 years and have compiled over 4,000 color images that I made out of the raw images received by NASA JPL at their website, it takes at least 3 raw RGB images to make one color image. Here is a place I stored over 1,400 color images at Google-Picasso site including panoramic views and the latest images of the meteorites found at Opportunities site, enjoy:

  • Jeff Price

    Well done Spirit Team, well done….

  • John Ferree

    It has been an absolutely remarkable achievement that, in my opinion, has not received near the recognition that is deserved. To place a vehicle on another planet, cruse all over the place, document the adventure in photos and transmit them back to humanity – one word – “unbelievable”!

  • Dixon Jeevananda

    Hope the day human race will land on Mars is not too far away.

  • http://aol wm. white

    How did they decontaminate the bungie cords from virus and bacteria?

  • Shelly

    Amazing these rovers could last so long.

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