Jan. 3, 2004 – Mars Rover named Spirit lands on Mars. It has a 90 day mission to wander Mars and see what it can find. Three months later, Spirit was still rolling along, having completed its primary mission and starting to work on a little bit of over time, because why not?
A year later. Spirit is still roving. Two years. Four years.
On March 22, 2010, Spirit sent its last message to earth. NASA waited until yesterday, May 25th, 2011, to official confirm that there is no real chance Spirit will wake up and re-transmit. Spirit lasted six years and nine months longer than anybody ever thought it might, and it’s twin Opportunity, is still roaming.
Spirit also has an extra small achievement in that it was one of the first reasons I got a Twitter account.
NASA has announced that Spirit’s support assets, the Mars orbiters will be re-tasked for the upcoming Mars Science Laboratory Mission, which will include the new generation of Mars rover, Curiosity, which will likely be launching in November.
Bad Astronomy linked to an xkcd comic done about Spirit, and I will as well. It is an excellent comic, if a little sad, especially what we know now. Maybe someday, Spirit.