NASA Podcasts

Free Spirit: Six Years on Mars
12.31.09
 
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Hi, I'm John Callas. As we observe the sixth anniversary of the rovers' arrival on Mars, let me update you on the status of Spirit.

We've been trying to get Spirit unstuck from this location on the west side of "home plate" but the going has been very slow. It's been very difficult, we've been having all these problems so we haven't actually been able to get going with the extrication process.

This is a really difficult time for Spirit. We're still in this very difficult situation – we're mired in Troy and we now may be a four-wheeled rover which is going to make getting out even more difficult than it would have been with a five-wheeled rover.

We're pretty sure that it's just not going to make it through the winter if we stay at this location.

Spirit's gotten herself out of tight spots before. There's been at least two previous occasions when winter was coming and Spirit was trapped and she managed to break her way free and get to safety. And we're certainly hoping that this will make three for three.

Spirit has definitely had some dramatic moments in her past and I think this will be another one to add to that, but we have a lot of things left to try so I think she has a very good chance of overcoming this obstacle.

She wouldn't be who she is without the people who designed her and built her, and who help to guide her across Mars to this very day.

You know, the rover has been on Mars for almost six years, we'll beyond its original 90 days, and its accomplishments are phenomenal.

We're facing a really tough situation but there's a saying among the team members – particularly the rover planners like myself, that you don't bet against Spirit. It's a good way to lose money.

I think I've started to think of Spirit as being the Indiana Jones of Mars, where she is just , you know, these just impossible challenges seem to be dumped on her and dumped on her and dumped on her and somehow she manages to roll under that closing door and go back for her hat and keep right on going.

Our job is to wear these rovers out and who would've thought that they would still be operating after six years on the surface of Mars. This is a great testament to the scientists and engineers who designed, built, and operate the rovers. It's a great adventure.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

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