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Requiem for a Mars Rover

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.

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