Spirit is Dying; Long Live Spirit
By now, you have no doubt heard that Spirit, one of the two participants NASA’s eponymous Mars Exploration Rover mission is mired in the Martian regolith, without hope of extraction therefrom. In its eventful life, it transmitted the first high-resolution color photograph taken on the surface of another world (pictured here).
Despite being mostly dry and apparently lifeless, Mars is the member of our solar system most similar to Earth. Even with some major setbacks, exploration of Mars has enjoyed remarkable success, much of which is owed to the rovers we launched in 2003.
While it’s a shame to see Spirit trapped and doomed to lose power, it was bound to happen sometime. And the fleeting sadness over the loss of a mobile, remote-controlled laboratory underscores the importance of unmanned space exploration; when money rather than human life is on the line, the stakes are more bearable. Below is XKCD’s take on the mission; I am glad we can leave it to artists to personify the rover.