NASA has finally given up on the Mars Rover Spirit. No communications have been received from the rover since March last year, when it was known to be trapped in a sand pit.
This final end is no great surprise. It was always a vanishingly small chance that Spirit would survive the last Martian winter. Without enough energy to stay warm, the cold conditions were likely to do so much damage the long-running mission would never recover when the sun reappeared.
Still, the rover had a good run (or crawl) lasting far longer after its 2004 landing on the Red Planet than the 3 months originally envisioned. (See Nature’s previous report of the last days of Spirit from last year: Mars rover Spirit (2003–10).)
Spirit’s fellow rover Opportunity continues to rove, while NASA’s next Mars mission launches in November – the Curiosity Rover.