Spirit has died.  One of two NASA rovers on Mars, no contact has been made with the plucky little machine since March 2010.  NASA had been hoping that with the return of summer to the region, the amazing little machine would come back to life.  Sadly, it appears that will not happen.

Transmissions to the Martian surface from Earth, and from orbiting relay stations have failed to elicit a response.  Age and the terribly cold Martian winter have finally silenced the science lab on wheels.

The next generation rover, Curiosity, is nearing it’s launch date, and NASA must reconfigure Earth bound transmission arrays, as well as the satellites orbiting Mars, to support the new mission.  Spirit will stand silent sentinel near Gusev crater now, slowly collecting a layer of Mars dust, waiting for the day when humans arrive to reclaim the sturdy little machine designed to operate for 90 days.  Landing January 5, 2004, Spirit studied Mars for 6 years.  Perhaps, someday, we’ll collect up Spirit, and return it home.  An honored spot at the Smithsonian would be appropriate, I think.  It’s certainly earned that distinction.

It’s twin, Opportunity, still roves on the other side of the planet, sending science back to eager researchers on Earth.