It's ALIVE: Mars Spirit rover lives

Thursday, November 13th 2008, 5:49 pm
By: News 9

By News9 Meteorologist Carrie Rose.

This week's vlog episode is on the "death" of the Mars Phoenix Lander, which sent its last signal to Earth November 2, 2008.  I mention in this episode that one of the factors contributing to Phoenix's death was a dust storm that moved over the lander in late October. 

Dust storms like that one are common on Mars, and interfere with space exploring equipment refueling from solar energy.  Two other explorers, Spirit and Opportunity, have also been plagued by dust storms recently.  NASA scientists have been waiting to call time-of-death on Spirit, having not heard from it in days.  Then suddenly...well, check out the story that just came out below:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Despite a nasty Martian dust storm, Spirit lives.

NASA had not heard from the 5-year-old Martian rover for four days. Just when engineers feared having to give up the ghost, the aptly named robot radioed back to Earth on Thursday that it survived.

Engineers shouted "she's talking," at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, Calif. They were afraid that a dust storm had drained Spirit's solar batteries, triggering it to shut down. Spirit's batteries are low, but working.

Spirit and its twin, Opportunity, are living long past their planned three months on Mars.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

It's ALIVE!  And thank goodness, because how many NASA deaths can they handle in a short amount of time?  First Phoenix, now Spirit?  That would seriously lower "spirits" in NASA.  Sorry, couldn't resist the pun...