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NASA Concludes Attempts To Contact Mars Rover Spirit

May 24, 2011

Dwayne Brown 
Headquarters, Washington 

Guy Webster 
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 

RELEASE: 11-167


WASHINGTON -- NASA is ending attempts to regain contact with the 
long-lived Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, which last communicated on 
March 22, 2010. 

A transmission that will end on Wednesday, May 25, will be the last in 
a series of attempts. Extensive communications activities during the 
past 10 months also have explored the possibility that Spirit might 
reawaken as the solar energy available to it increased after a 
stressful Martian winter without much sunlight. With inadequate 
energy to run its survival heaters, 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. 

Engineers' assessments in recent months have shown a very low 
probability for recovering communications with Spirit. Communications 
assets that have been used by the Spirit mission in the past, 
including NASA's Deep Space Network of antennas on Earth, plus two 
NASA Mars orbiters that can relay communications, now are needed to 
prepare for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission. MSL is scheduled 
to launch later this year. 

"We're now transitioning assets to support the November launch of our 
next generation Mars rover, Curiosity," said Dave Lavery, program 
executive for solar system exploration. "However, while we no longer 
believe there is a realistic probability of hearing from Spirit, the 
Deep Space Network may occasionally listen for any faint signals when 
the schedule permits." 

Spirit landed on Mars on Jan. 3, 2004, for a mission designed to last 
three months. After accomplishing its prime-mission goals, Spirit 
worked to accomplish additional objectives. Its twin, Opportunity, 
continues active exploration of Mars. 

For more information on the Mars rovers, visit: 



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