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: SpaceX breaks ground on Texas rocket launch site

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mars rover heads uphill after solving 'doughnut' riddle

Feb 15, 2014

(Phys.org) —Researchers have determined the now-infamous Martian rock resembling a jelly doughnut, dubbed Pinnacle Island, is a piece of a larger rock broken and moved by the wheel of NASA's Mars Explorat ...

Curiosity crosses Dingo Gap dune

Feb 10, 2014

NASA's Curiosity mega rover has successfully crossed over the 'Dingo Gap' sand dune- opening the gateway to the science rich targets in the "Moonlight Valley" and Martian mountain beyond.

In the eye of the beholder

Jan 24, 2014

Astrobiologists are developing 'intelligent' instruments that could help future robotic explorers make their own decisions about where and how to collect data. Although focused on Mars exploration for the ...

With 10 years as Martians, rovers unveil true grit

Jan 20, 2014

In the 10th year of a 90-day warranty, the Mars rover Opportunity begins its second decade of exploration and still traverses the oxidized terrain to answer crucial questions of cosmic exploration.

Recommended for you

NASA launches RapidScat wind watcher to Space Station

18 hours ago

A new NASA mission that will boost global monitoring of ocean winds for improved weather forecasting and climate studies is among about 5,000 pounds (2,270 kilograms) of NASA science investigations and cargo ...

User comments : 0