Spirit phone home! NASA waited to hear from its aptly named little Mars car for over a year before formally saying good-bye. On July 19, John Callas, Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager, eulogized the rover at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s “Spirit Celebration.” Callas praised Spirit’s durability and capacity, and its spirit, of course, saying, “beyond all the exploration and scientific discovery, Spirit has also given us a great intangible. Mars is no longer this distant, alien world. It is now our neighborhood. We go to work on Mars everyday.”
But what about Spirit’s twin, Opportunity? Check out the OPPORTUNITY UPDATE which describes how this far ranging rover has driven more than twenty miles as it nears Endeavor, a very large crater! I’ve been following the Mars Exploration Rover Mission for eight years, and I still get excited when there’s news and postcards from Mars.
I’ll be following the latest Mars Exploration Mission, Mars Science Laboratory. The launch date is planned for this fall, with arrival on the Red Planet in the fall of 2012.
The Mars Science Laboratory rover is named Curiosity which is the size of a SUV–a lot bigger than the golf-cart size rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. Curiosity is a a mobile robot for investigating Mars’ past or present ability to sustain microbial life. This is one road trip I don’t want to miss! I’ll keep you posted.