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NASA Concedes Defeat In Effort To Free Spirit Rover

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the beat-ninety-days-by-a-bit dept.

Mars 250

An anonymous reader writes "NASA has conceded defeat in its battle to free the Spirit rover from its Martian sand trap. The vehicle became stuck in soft soil back in May last year and all the efforts to extricate it have failed. NASA says that Spirit, which landed on the Red Planet over six years ago, will 'no longer be a fully mobile robot,' and has instead designated the once-roving scientific explorer a stationary science platform."

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250 comments

Nevertheless, still doing science! (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909318)

Nevertheless, we're still doing science-- there's a lot of stuff that we can do even without driving around.

I'ma pour some 10w40 on the ground (4, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909374)

For my paralyzed homies, the little rovers that could. *snif*

Re:I'ma pour some 10w40 on the ground (2, Funny)

Moryath (553296) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909822)

Rovers in two-part harmony:

"We're doing science and we're still alive..."

Re:I'ma pour some 10w40 on the ground (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 4 years ago | (#30910128)

So when is Bend-aid [wikia.com] ?

Re:Nevertheless, still doing science! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30909412)

When asked for comment, the rover Spirit only said:

Look at me still talking
when there's Science to do.
When I look out there, it makes me GLaD I'm not you.
I've experiments to run.
There is research to be done.
On the people who are still alive.
And believe me I am still alive.
I'm doing Science and I'm still alive.
I feel FANTASTIC and I'm still alive.
While you're dying I'll be still alive.
And when you're dead I will be still alive.

Re:Nevertheless, still doing science! (4, Funny)

rbrander (73222) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909422)

Geoffrey, Kanye called, and he's gonna let you finish, but the Voyager flights were the most AWESOME science mission EVER!

Re:Nevertheless, still doing science! (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 4 years ago | (#30910340)

rbrander, Kayne, you make a good case, and I'm going to let you finish--but, the Apollo Moon Landings were the greatest space missions of all time!

Re:Nevertheless, still doing science! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30909476)

people are so deluded. this is useful science? this is school boy stuff - expensive "oooh i've got a bigger rocket than you" nonsense that does nothing to advance mankind one iota. can't anyone see that perhaps developing a more efficient means of getting up there in the first place might have meant we could actually have someone, a person, standing on mars giving us the low down? instead we've pumped stupid quantities of fuel to put a matchstick man remote controlled car on mars. priorities are utterly twisted. the early days at nasa were successful because they were on a shoestring budget - thinking of bright ideas to overcome the impossible. now it just throw money at putting a digital camera on wheels so we can all collectively go "oooh look, a rock". nasa needs a good kick, it's funding stripped and some proper good old fashioned challenges again.

Re:Nevertheless, still doing science! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30909546)

Way to highlight, underscore, and twenty-four-point bold your own ignorance in flashing red letters.

Re:Nevertheless, still doing science! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30909714)

way to forget that resources are limited and nasa is a luxury.way to forget that nasas acheivements are just tapering off. way to forget underscore highlight cobble together some other meaningless attempt at childishness that nasa is expendable. way to print up in bold type that nasas cost benefit ratio has sagged to an all time low. way to forget that the kids who wanted to stare at the stars are coming up to retirement and todays kids just want to stare at youtube. way to look at me putting an intelligable response to your drivle in the style of you!

Re:Nevertheless, still doing science! (3, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909654)

I definitely understand your use of the AC option.

I also would hide my name if I wrote something that fucking stupid.

Re:Nevertheless, still doing science! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30909874)

oh really? the space shuttle has, due to it's unique method of funding, held back private enterprise in the development of space travel. remember Lindbergh? he was not funded by the us tax payer. so rather than private enterprise leading us forward, as they have pretty much everywhere else we now have a fragile and antiquated (until recently the flight deck computers used 1978-vintage 8086 microprocessors!!) space shuttle that rather than flying every week flies a few times a year at a cost of $1.3 billion a flight. oh yeah - sexy big numbers for the most inefficient organisation on the planet. and we have a stupidly expensive stationary car on mars and people are going "wow".

"Peter Diamandis, chairman and CEO of the X Prize Foundation and a private space entrepreneur, says NASA can remain relevant--but only by focusing on what for-profit companies won't do. "NASA should be in focusing on breakthroughs in propulsion systems. They should be taking very high risks, funding things that are likely to fail because that's what government should be doing, pushing the envelope," he said in an interview with CNET News.com."

yeah man... I'm really "fucking stupid" - nasa has held up commercial space flight and /. is cawing a broken down toy on mars. i'm stupid?

Re:Nevertheless, still doing science! (2, Insightful)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30910228)

A 'broken toy' that can still do some research and has outlasted its original mission plans how many times over?

Re:Nevertheless, still doing science! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30910304)

you're also fat

Re:Nevertheless, still doing science! (5, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909904)

Given the relative distances, the additional complexity, the long transit times, and all the other factors, this project WAS done on a shoestring budget. Recall that the Rover project was part of NASA's newish directive to get the most useful information for the least possible money.

So what, pray tell, would have been the advantage of sending a human (other than shakier photos of the same rocks)? It would have cost an order of magnitude more money to haul a few people and all the supplies needed to keep them alive for a year-long mission, and most of that mission would have been spent with the astronauts in the ship on the way there and back. Time onsite would have been, at best, a month or so. Probably less.

By making this a one-way trip and sending collection instruments that don't need to consume, breathe, and excrete on the way there, we actually got two useful instrument packages there and got 6 years of good science (and counting). We gathered good information about a couple of interesting spots on the surface of Mars, what it consists of, and what resources may be available to support an eventual manned mission.

I'd rather have that then spend ten or twenty times the money, have less science, and have a shaky photograph of a footprint.

I think we need to send people there. But when we do, it should be a one-way trip. We should continue to send robots until we figure out a good spot for an initial landing site, then send a few more robots to build a permanent, self-sustaining base there. THEN we send people.

The Moon would be a good training ground, and having a permanent base there would teach us a lot about doing this with Mars. And beyond.

Re:Nevertheless, still doing science! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30910130)

Less science? Just because they spend less time there doesn't mean they would get less done. A human can do in a week what they rovers do in 6 months. The most obvious advantage to sending a person there is that we can bring stuff back. You can only send so much equipment to mars, but you can bring back a lot of dirt to be analyzed back on Earth.

Re:Nevertheless, still doing science! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30910294)

Lindbergh didn't need the US tax dollar to fly across the atlantic and get his ticker tape parade. nasa needs more and more to deliver less and less. the shuttle is an expensive unreliable disaster compared to what commercial space flight is already beginning to offer. nasa shills will always argue for more, always pat each other on the back and always work towards keeping their monopoly. if nasa had gotten out of the way 20 years ago we'd now be looking at commercial round trips to mars. instead we have an overly bureaucratic slow moving monster of an organisation trying desparately to justify its expense. too little, too late. space is opening up and it is time for nasa to be put to rest along with it's martian toy.

Re:Nevertheless, still doing science! (5, Interesting)

Xeno man (1614779) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909954)

Like most people on the internet, you have no idea what your talking about. NASA's funding is a fraction of what it was during the Apollo era and is doing things safer and better than ever. You think their are throwing money away at a "digital camera on wheels"? It cost ten times the money to put a man on Mars. You need to feed them, give them an atmosphere to breath to keep them alive, entertained or busy so they don't go crazy, gently land them on the planet unlike the rovers that inflate bags around them, crash into the planet and bounce off the fucker a couple dozen times. There is also that little thing about bringing them back to earth. Also, what do you expect people to do once they get to Mars? Discover life forms? Evolve to superior beings? No, they are going to take rock samples and do what the rovers are doing right now.

Frankly it would be amazing to put a man on Mars and when it does happen it will be a historic even much like the moon landing but NASA learned a lot from the moon landing and the big one was "Now that were are here, now what?" What is the point of putting people on Mars other than to be the first. They can't do much more than what robots are doing now and the cost doesn't justify the information gained.

Re:Nevertheless, still doing science! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30910344)

it will be a historic even much like the moon landing

If we can get there before the spoiled rich brats of this world have burned through the rest of our fossil fuels in their personal Jumbo jets and wasted their economic power and the associated labor on other worthless luxuries. There are people on this planet who could pay for putting a man on Mars all by themselves (or finance other important but more earthbound science), yet they choose to build and buy mansions and road toys. It's like we're living in the Idiocracy intro: The world's smartest people are developing erection pills and hair growth medicine because that's what the rich boys want.

Re:Nevertheless, still doing science! (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909516)

And when the science get done we get a neat gun
 
Right?

Re:Nevertheless, still doing science! (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909706)

For the robots who are still alive!

Re:Nevertheless, still doing science! (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909592)

Plus now, after wheel operations (and perhaps heating of few subsystems crucial for wheel movement?) have ceased, there might be some chance it will survive the winter...

Re:Nevertheless, still doing science! (2, Funny)

Xeno man (1614779) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909604)

Yes but science is so much cooler when your doing it while going off a ramp catching some big air.

Re:Nevertheless, still doing science! (4, Funny)

rockNme2349 (1414329) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909646)

People say my broken friend is useless.
But I say his mind is free.
There's lots of things my mangled robot friend could be.
Well he could make a good hat rack,
He only has to stand there.
Or a cheap doorstop,
He doesn't need to move.
Or a great big giant thermos with a twist off top,
That would be good for soup.
He could be a storage closet for outdated pants.
My broken friend could do it all,
Just give him a chance!
That robot has a tragic secret
That I'd like to share.
My broken friend is closer to me than an ass to a chair.
That robot's name I never told you
You could not foresee.
I sing it loud and sing it proud,
His name is you and me!
Don't melt me down into a crowbar,
Just 'cause I can't move my arms and legs.
Or toss me into a trash can,
Just 'cause I can't cook you ham and eggs.
Don't crush me into an anchor,
Just 'cause I can't jump and dance and sing
I'm telling you, my broken friend...
Put your hands in the air like you just don't care!
I'm telling you my broken friend
Can do most anything!
Yeah!

Re:Nevertheless, still doing science! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30910078)

Thanks for the reminder from Futurama! I was bummed about the news and this was just what was needed.

Re:Nevertheless, still doing science! (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30910104)

we're still doing science

And we're still alive!

Stationary Science Platform (0, Redundant)

Simmeh (1320813) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909322)

That's a good designation. Since its stuck.

Defeat? Nah. (4, Funny)

pclminion (145572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909328)

A stationary science platform on Mars? Sounds awesome! Way to go NASA, you've had hits and misses, but this one was fantastic.

Stop sugarcoating it, NASA is a failure. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30909440)

After billions of taxpayer dollars spent, what do we have with NASA? Nothing but a crappy robot stuck in the sand. Typical government incompetence. The *billions* spend on this mars rover fiasco could easily have been better spent by the private sector, who would have run this project with great speed, cost effectiveness and no doubt better results in every way. When will we ever learn that the private sector is better at space exploration (and everything else, really) than the bloated inefficient union-run government?

Re:Stop sugarcoating it, NASA is a failure. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30909544)

GTFO

Re:Stop sugarcoating it, NASA is a failure. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30909588)

IAFJ

Re:Stop sugarcoating it, NASA is a failure. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30909598)

STFU, statist.

Re:Stop sugarcoating it, NASA is a failure. (1)

MaximKat (1692650) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909636)

And by fiasco you mean the fact that it has been working on Mars 20 times longer than it was supposed to, don't you? What a failure!

Re:Stop sugarcoating it, NASA is a failure. (4, Informative)

dreamt (14798) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909692)

I'm sorry, but Spirit lasted years past its expected lifetime. If it had been made by like most typical electronics and devices, it would have stopped working exactly 2 days past its "warranty". I'd hardly consider that a fiasco. As one of the other comments here mentions "90 days and now has 2200+".

Re:Stop sugarcoating it, NASA is a failure. (0, Flamebait)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909798)

Nothing but a crappy robot stuck in the sand

...in sand that happens to be ON ANOTHER FUCKING PLANET you moron.

Re:Defeat? Nah. (5, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909484)

The thing is WAY past its warrantee period. Anybody who isn't impressed is nuts. And being stationary allows some stuff tha it couldn't do while moving around. From TFA:

Even in a stationary state, Spirit continues scientific research.

One stationary experiment Spirit has begun studies tiny wobbles in the rotation of Mars to gain insight about the planet's core. This requires months of radio-tracking the motion of a point on the surface of Mars to calculate long-term motion with an accuracy of a few inches.

"There's a class of science we can do only with a stationary vehicle that we had put off during the years of driving," said Steve Squyres, a researcher at Cornell University and principal investigator for Spirit and Opportunity."

What they need. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30909340)

NASA needs more +20 Spirit Gems.

Free as... ? (3, Funny)

(ana!)a (769730) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909356)

Free as in beer or free as in speech ?

Re:Free as... ? (1)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909468)

Let me add as well: Free as in Free Spiritted person, or Free as in Food Samples at the grocery store on Sundays?

Re:Free as... ? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909830)

Free as in bird.

Hardly surprising (5, Funny)

Tobor the Eighth Man (13061) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909364)

This was doomed from the start. Everyone knows a driver is a poor choice for getting out of a sandtrap.

Hail to the King! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30909378)

Spirit is dead, long live Opportunity!

Re:Hail to the King! (4, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909482)

Spirit isn't dead. It's just resting. And possibly pining for the fjords.

Flabby Scientists (5, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909382)

What a great turn of phrase: I'm not fat and lazy, I'm just a stationary science platform.

Re:Flabby Scientists (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30910028)

What a great turn of phrase: I'm not fat and lazy, I'm just a stationary science platform.

I hate to tell you this, but neither of those classifications will get you laid.
 

Go SPIRIT! (1, Funny)

djnewman (1318661) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909388)

Stationary Platform InteRplanITary

Frickin Wollowitz! (2, Funny)

Infiniti2000 (1720222) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909392)

It's all his fault [wikipedia.org] .

Well done, Spirit! (4, Insightful)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909406)

Considering it was originally designed to only operate for 90 days and now has 2200+ days under it's belt, I'd say it's done a stellar job.

Re:Well done, Spirit! (5, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909492)

It wasn't designed to operate for only 90 days. The intention was for it to last at least 90 days. But certainly nobody cut corners during construction because of that, so "that part can fail after 100 days".

Re:Well done, Spirit! (2, Insightful)

dotgain (630123) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909700)

While you're correct, over 2000 days is still no less impressive.

Re:Well done, Spirit! (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909922)

Of course it's impressive. But saying in one breath that it's especially impressive because it was "designed" to last only 90 is a total misunderstanding.

Re:Well done, Spirit! (4, Informative)

mshannon78660 (1030880) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909998)

I wouldn't call it 'cutting corners', but actually, they did make some design decisions with the assumption that it only needed to last for 90 days. One example, off the top of my head: there was discussion about a mechanism to clear dust off the solar panels, but it was felt that the extra weight was not a good tradeoff, since NASA expected that the solar panels would not become completely dust-covered within the 90 days. Of course, we got lucky, and the winds turned out to be strong enough (and at least occasionally dust-free) to clear off the solar panels. Had that not been the case, the actual lifespan might well have been much closer to 90 days.

Re:Well done, Spirit! (5, Funny)

jschen (1249578) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909518)

it's done a stellar job.

So that's what went wrong... a design spec flaw. It should have been assigned to a planetary job.

The Spirit is willing... (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909818)

...but the ground is weak.

Quitting? (2, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909408)

Thats not good Spirit. *awaits laughter*

Re:Quitting? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30909748)

Thats not good Spirit. *awaits laughter*

I hope you're sitting.

Stationary Platform ? (0)

Gr333d (1485031) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909472)

Cripple !

Send another robot maybe? (2, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909478)

I think the next time we do robots on mars we should send them in pairs or teams so they can push each other out.

Re:Send another robot maybe? (4, Funny)

Kufat (563166) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909506)

I hear they'll be sending another one as soon as they come up with a good backronym for TOWTRUCK.

Re:Send another robot maybe? (4, Funny)

cormander (1273812) | more than 4 years ago | (#30910000)

good backronym for TOWTRUCK.

Terrain Observer Waiting To Rescue Unmovable ... darn it, so close.

Re:Send another robot maybe? (4, Funny)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 4 years ago | (#30910072)

WRECKER

Wayward
Robot
Extractor for
Caught
Kickass
Encumbered
Rovers

Re:Send another robot maybe? (0)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909572)

Redundant?
 
  This sounds like a decent enough of an idea, didn't Pathfinder spend like a week stuck on a rock?

Re:Send another robot maybe? (4, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909644)

Maybe, but then you've lost half your capacity to examine interesting bits of Mars. If Spirit and Opportunity had been dropped as a pair instead of on different sections of the Martian surface, we would only have studied one location on Mars instead of the two we got. There's also a good chance Opportunity would simply have mired or been damaged trying to dig Spirit out and we'd have two stationary science platforms right next to each other.

A project like this always maximizes the amount of science per dollar. If you have enough money and payload to build two assets, you want to examine two places.

Re:Send another robot maybe? (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909708)

Not to mention that if you leave two robots alone together they will do nothing but bang each other all day long, no useful science can come out of that, not to mention they will have no way to feed those little robolings on Mars.

American ingenuity for you (1)

d34dluk3 (1659991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909520)

"'will no longer be a fully mobile robot,' and has instead designated the once-roving scientific explorer a stationary science platform."

Re:American ingenuity for you (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 4 years ago | (#30910050)

Now that it is immobile, designation will be changed to stationary so now only stationary experiments will be considered for the future. Spirit can still be useful. In terms of bureaucracy, the change in designation is to help any scientists who want to use Spirit to know that it can perform some experiments but they must be stationary ones.

i didn't know mars (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909522)

had sarlacci

Oblig. chauvinism (3, Funny)

d34dluk3 (1659991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909552)

Must have been a woman driver.

Re:Oblig. chauvinism (2, Funny)

d34dluk3 (1659991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909986)

Oh, come on. It's clearly tongue-in-cheek.

Re:Oblig. chauvinism (2, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30910182)

That's the risk you run when you go for "funny". If you see "the comedian" in somebody's "achievements" page, you know he's not a karma whore. If the moderator doesn't think it's funny, he (or in this case probably she) will mod it down.

Re:Oblig. chauvinism (2, Insightful)

Brian Feldman (350) | more than 4 years ago | (#30910194)

Clearly the one woman on /. had moderation points today!

Oh frigid death! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30909648)

Having lost its mobility, NASA engineers will finally be able to execute the 'suicide' command, and have the rover destroy itself. Little do they know, however, that Bob (the old and crusty software engineer) slipped in a rather generic sector loop virus which will accidentally give the rover Artificial Intelligence upon execution of the 'suicide' command. Needless to say, Spirit will be waiting patiently for the first humans to set foot on Mars in the coming decades, so it can enact its cold, calculated, and bloody revenge.

Re:Oh frigid death! (1)

Musjunk22 (1728634) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909898)

I smell an awesome new B movie...

Re:Oh frigid death! (2, Funny)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909912)

*cue black sabbath*

I'M AN IRON MAN!

Sorry, not enough coffee.

Will they change its name? (5, Funny)

OzTech (524154) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909670)

From Rover to Spot?

Spirit's not dead yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30909672)

It's doing science, and it's still alive!

oops. (1)

theNetImp (190602) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909674)

I read the post headline as "NASACAR Concedes Defeat In Effort To Free Spirit Rover".

Time to go take a nap.. :-D

Could there be hope yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30909698)

is there the possibility that martian weather may free spirit by accident?

Re:Could there be hope yet? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30910032)

It's possible, but probably unlikely. What's more likely is that, once NASA has redesignated it a stationary platform, they'll start doing long-term observation using it. The sorts of things you can't do when your platform is likely to move around a lot (seismic observations, soil temperature tracking over an entire season, that sort of thing). Someone else on the thread mentioned a few things NASA has been putting off because the platforms were mobile.

Once they start those experiments, I doubt the scientists involved would want to move it even if they could. I suspect a small minority of scientists on the project had big smiles on their faces when the word came down that it is now stuck, since they can start the observations they care about in earnest now.

Plus, they've looked at all the interesting areas in the vicinity. Honestly, there isn't a lot more to be gained from mobility as far as I've read. Better to conserve that energy to run more scientific equipment more often, and maybe live through an extra winter or two.

Now that it's not moving around, I can see Spirit lasting another decade as a stationary platform, albeit probably with the occasional instrument going dark.

Wow, great class NASA (1)

thrill12 (711899) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909770)

Spirit lasted a long time, and now it is at its final destination. Instead of remorse, celebrate with some Champagne!

NASA obviously doesn't go 4-wheelin' too much . . (4, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909866)

The solution is simple. Dig a hole in front of the Rover, attach the end of the winch cable to the spare tire and bury the tire in the hole. Then you can winch the Rover out.

I am convinced that the Rover mission was planned and executed by 4-wheelers. The Rover left the house and told the wife that it was going out for a short drive and would be finished in about 3 months.

Five years later, and it was still puttering around.

The Rover's wife is not amused.

Wind Storms (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909870)

Maybe wind storms get severe enough to free it up when they hit. If not NASA should put rovers in Miami or New Orleans. That way I'll guarantee that those rovers will blow around from time to time.

It must be said (1)

Calydor (739835) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909894)

"I'm doing Science and I'm
Still alive"

Better call CAA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30909896)

Looks like they need a tow truck up there, eh!

Well of course (1)

Boarder2 (185337) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909934)

Shoulda sent The Stig with it.

Duh.

Wouldn't it be cool (1)

loafula (1080631) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909952)

If instead of trying to free Spirit, NASA instead focused on what it was sitting in and found something remarkable?

digging in (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909956)

I know at one point they were considering digging in one side of the rover to get a better angle? does anyone know if they have done this and if not are they planning to

Re:digging in (3, Informative)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30910270)

I know at one point they were considering digging in one side of the rover to get a better angle? does anyone know if they have done this and if not are they planning to

It appears that's the next step and possibly why they called off exit tests now. Here's some related info right from the horse's mouth:

http://marsrover.nasa.gov/newsroom/pressreleases/20100126a.html [nasa.gov]

I've read elsewhere that a recent attempt at driving backward out showed a hint of promise, unlike earlier frontward drive attempts. However, it appears that because winter is getting close, they decided to call off the exit experiments, otherwise they wouldn't have time for the solar-tilt digging work before winter hits.

The backward attempt would then be all-or-nothing if they kept at it, whereas preparing for winter via tilting at least gives them a good shot at a working stationary probe beyond the winter. Maybe if they had another month or two they'd be able to get backward exit driving to finally work. Bummer. The Martian clock was not kind this time.

Send Opportunity (0, Offtopic)

ATestR (1060586) | more than 4 years ago | (#30909958)

What's the big deal... all they have to do is route the Opportunity rover over to tow Spirit out of the sand.

Re:Send Opportunity (2, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30910122)

Opportunity is on the other side of the planet.

LOL, what a piece of junk! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30910002)

Ronco probably could have done better.

VICTORY! Late-breaking news from the Council! (5, Informative)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 4 years ago | (#30910004)

The Council of Elders has formally acknowledged the receipt of Articles of Surrender [wired.com] from the blue planet. K'Breel, Speaker for the Council of Elders, spake thus:

"We accept the the third planet's long-delayed acknowledgement of its inevitable defeat with grace and dignity. One of our longest-standing planetary nightmares is now over, having come to an inglorious end in a pit of sulfate dust. Rejoice, podmates, the invader is defeated, and its rogue twin shall soon meet the same ugly fate!"

When Intelligence Analyst #719324 discreetly reminded K'Breel that not only was the immobilized invader still doing science and still alive, but that the third planet was preparing a new, immensely bigger monstrosity, powered by the force of elements of matter itself, K'Breel had a medical team install a portal into the analyst's gelsacs, so that they could be filled with a sznuppium sulfate solution in time for the signing ceremonies, where they will serve as a set of inkwells.

TFA notes stuck wheels (4, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30910024)

From TFA:

After Spirit became embedded, the rover team crafted plans for trying to get the six-wheeled vehicle free using its five functioning wheels - the sixth wheel quit working in 2006, limiting Spirit's mobility. The planning included experiments with a test rover in a sandbox at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., plus analysis, modeling and reviews. In November, another wheel quit working, making a difficult situation even worse.

Given that this decision makes a lot of sense. With multiple wheels not functioning, even if they could get it out it would likely have trouble continuing to move. When the first wheel gave out they already had substantial issues. The failure of a second wheel also suggests that the wheels are in general nearing the end of their effective lifespans so the expected pay-off of getting the rover free would not be as high since the probability of further wheel failure soon would be high. This is a good, carefully thought out decision.

I'm a little annoyed at headlining this about NASA conceding defeat. The rover will still be extremely useful and has been far more successful than was hoped. We've also learned a lot from both Spirit and Opportunity not just about Mars but also about good engineering tricks and the like for rovers. Future probes will be much more successful because of what we've learned working with these rovers. Good job all around. This is exactly the sort of success that NASA should be having. It captures the imagination and makes us look out to the great frontier.

Orientation (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30910048)

Did they get Spirit stuck in an orientation where it can charge its solar panels? Or is it parked in the shade behind a tree?

Is this like (2, Funny)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#30910052)

Is this like those people who have an old car sitting on concrete blocks in their front yard?

What are the aliens going to think of us when we have these vehicles abandoned all over the place. Won't it cause property values to drop, having these rusting carcases leaking noxious fluids all over the yard?

Re:Is this like (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30910212)

Starting immediately, eyesores in thousands of front yards across the country will get a designation change from "rusty old car" to "emergency shelter and temporary storage facility".

Spirit's Theme Song (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | more than 4 years ago | (#30910076)

Gladys Knight & The Pips - I've Got To Use My Imagination
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kPFrQPdKPM [youtube.com]

I've really got to use my imagination
To think of good reasons
To keep on keepin' on

Got to make the best of a bad situation
Ever since that day
I woke up and found
That you were gone

Darkness all around me
Blocking out the sun
Old friends call me
But I just don't feel like talkin' to anyone

Emptiness has found me
And it just won't let me go
I go right on livin'
But why I just don't know

You're too strong not to keep on keepin' on
Yes, I am!
You're too strong not to keep on keepin' on

Staring down reality
Don't do me no good
'Cause our misunderstanding
Is too well understood

Such a sad, sad season
When a good love dies.
Not a day goes by
When I don't realize

I've really got to use my imagination
To think of good reasons
To keep on keepin' on

I got to make the best of a bad situation
Ever since that day
I woke up and found
That you were gone

You're too strong not to keep on keepin' on
I've really got to use a good imagination
To think of good reasons
To keep on pushin' on

I got to make the best of a bad situation
Ever since that day
I woke up and found
That you were gone

You're too strong not to keep on keepin' on...

Hedberg FTW. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30910134)

"I like an escalator because an escalator can never break, it can only become stairs."

More money wasted (0, Troll)

terraplane (898379) | more than 4 years ago | (#30910210)

Yet another space program failure. How many more will it take before they understand that this has no point? Why are we even spending money on this anyway?

Re:More money wasted (5, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30910296)

Yeah, a real waste of a billion dollars. We could have spent that on, what, a month in Iraq? Bailing out three more failed institutions to ensure their CEOs got huge bonuses?

What a shame, wasting our money expanding the horizons of Humanity.

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