Controllers Cheer as Data Arrive from NASA's Spirit Rover

Nov 13, 2008
The deck of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit is so dusty that the rover almost blends into the dusty background. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit communicated via the Mars Odyssey orbiter today right at the time when ground controllers had told it to, prompting shouts of "She's talking!" among the rover team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

"This means Spirit has not gone into a fault condition and is still being controlled by sequences we send from the ground," said John Callas of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., project manager for Spirit and its twin, Opportunity.

The solar-powered rover still has low energy, a condition worsened by a dust storm in recent days. Today's communication confirmed that Spirit had received commands sent on Tuesday and that the battery charge had not fallen low enough to trigger a pre-programmed fault mode.

Callas said, "The baby is crying, which means it is healthy enough to communicate normally. Now we are analyzing the data we've received to determine what the next commands should be, but this is all good news."

Spirit has been operating on Mars for nearly five years in an exploration mission originally planned to last three months. The recent dust storm is clearing, but a coating of dust on Spirit's solar panels is reducing the rover's ability to generate electricity even when the sky is clear.

Provided by NASA

Explore further: How bad can solar storms get?

Related Stories

Interesting facts about planet Mars

Feb 16, 2015

Mars is a constant point of discussion for space explorers around the world. We've sent dozens of spacecraft there to study it. Some want to land astronauts on it. The planet is just far away to make that ...

What other worlds have we landed on?

Jan 14, 2015

Think of all the different horizons humans have viewed on other worlds. The dust-filled skies of Mars. The Moon's inky darkness. Titan's orange haze. These are just a small subset of the worlds that humans ...

Opportunity rover struggles with flash memory problems

Dec 24, 2014

NASA's Opportunity Mars rover, also known as "Oppy", is continuing its traverse southward on the western rim of Endeavour Crater despite computer resets and "amnesia" that have occurred after reformatting ...

Recommended for you

How bad can solar storms get?

May 22, 2015

Our sun regularly pelts the Earth with all kinds of radiation and charged particles. How bad can these solar storms get?

Mars rover's ChemCam instrument gets sharper vision

May 22, 2015

NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover's "ChemCam" instrument just got a major capability fix, as Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists uploaded a software repair for the auto-focus system on the instrument.

GOES-R satellite begins environmental testing

May 21, 2015

The GOES-R satellite, slated to launch in 2016, is ready for environmental testing. Environmental testing simulates the harsh conditions of launch and the space environment once the satellite is in orbit. ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.