Mars rover Spirit remains stuck in sand

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mars rover Spirit beached in sand

-- The Mars rover Spirit will rove the red planet no more.

That's because the six-wheeled vehicle that was sent to Mars along with its twin rover, Opportunity, in 2004 got stuck in a Martian sand trap and NASA hasn't been able to get it unstuck. Two of the rover's wheels are no longer working.

"Spirit's driving days are likely over," said Doug McCuistion of the space agency's Mars Exploration Program.

Still, Spirit's ride has been a historic one.

Spirit and Opportunity cost $820 million to build and send to Mars, where they were supposed to be able to explore for three months. Spirit investigated lava hills and plains on the planet, and Opportunity found evidence of water in sedimentary rock lining the planet's craters.

Scientists hope that, even in its stuck state, Spirit will be able to measure Martian gravity to determine if the planet is solid or liquid at its core.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company

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