NASA's Hibernating Mars Rover may not Phone Home
NASA mission controllers have not heard from the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit since March 22, and the rover is facing its toughest challenge yet – trying to survive the harsh Martian winter. The rover team anticipated Spirit would go into a low-power "hibernation" mode since the rover was not able to get to a favorable slope for its fourth Martian winter, which runs from May through November. The low angle of sunlight during these months limits the power generated from the rover's solar panels. During hibernation, the rover suspends communications and other activities so available energy can be used to recharge and heat batteries, and to keep the mission clock running.
Dr. Michael Meyer
Lead Scientist, Mars Exploration Program
MEYER (:08): Over the next six months…plus…we’re going to be listening and hoping that Spirit revives, gets enough energy, and is able to communicate with us.
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MEYER (:09): There’s science for it to do without even having to get out of the hole that it’s in and we’re just hopeful that it survived the winter and can build up enough power to talk to us.
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