Spirit is a robotic rover that remained in communication on Mars until March 22, 2010, when it came across an area of soft soil, where its wheels and mechanical system were unable to get it out. After more than a thousand attempts to communicate with the rover, it was decided to conclude the recovery efforts on May 25, 2011.


This robotic Spacecraft is part of a pair of rovers from the Mars Exploration Rover Mission (MER); the other rover is known as Opportunity. Spirit was launched on June 10, 2003 and landed on Mars on January 4, 2004. This rover´s main Science objectives included the search and classification of various types of rocks and soils which could provide clues for the presence of water in Mars´ past.

90 day mission

While the original plan for this mission consisted of only 90 sols (Martian days), the rover´s capability was extended several times, making it to remain active for 2,210 sols on Mars ‘surface. On March 22, 2010, spirit ceased to communicate with personnel on earth and this mark the last day of communication with it.

Aiding natural events for the mission

Although the capability to store power from the sun due to its distance from Mars and the accumulation of dust on the panels had been taken into account and presented a big constrain for the mission, it´s believed that a dust devil could have been responsible for the cleaning of rover´s solar panels, extending the period of the mission.

These whirling natural dust formations are common on Mars and may have occurred persistently around the environment, helping the rover recharge its power, increasing performance. From March to April 2009, the energy output of the solar panels increased from 223 watt-hours to 372 watt-hours or 800 kj-1,349 kJ per hour.


The samples gathered by Spirit on the Martian surface helped confirmed the existence of water on the surface of Mars in ancient times. This discovery is aiding scientists to determine whether the planet could have ever been able to be a suitable environment for the development of life. This contributed to fulfill the main four goals of this Mars Exploration Program.

Unable to drive

On sol 1892 -- May 1,2009, Spirit spacecraft came across a mound of disguised soft soil, containing iron sulfate, which is known to possess little cohesion, making the rover´s wheels lose traction.The site at which Spirit got trapped was informally named Troy and was the soil unearthed by the sinking wheels was intensely studied by spirit´s robotic arm.