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Spirit Isn't Dead

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→ http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/01/22/1728224&...
→ http://www.drudgereport.com/

I'm somewhat annoyed with sites like Slashdot and the Drudge Report declaring the Spirit rover dead, just because it hasn't been sending data back to earth for a day or so. While it may be dramatic to proclaim the mission a failure, it just isn't accurate.

→ http://www.spaceflightnow.com/mars/mera/status.html

A better site for mars rover news is spaceflight now. There mission status center has the following update:

But earlier today, a signal was sent from Earth to Mars and Spirit responded with a simple tone.

"We did send a command to the spacecraft on a specific channel and we got a response back basically saying 'yeah, I am here' and we got exactly what we expected from it. So that gave us the indication, because it is on that specific channel that we got the response, is that the spacecraft is in safe-mode. Something kind of went wrong and it put itself into a safe-mode," Elachi said.

A safe mode is a far cry from a failed mission. As an example, the Mars Pathfinder's computer reset itself twice within the first week after it landed. Ground controllers had to find and send the right commands to get it communicating again.

I strongly expect Spirit to be up and roving again in a few days, with the major complications being from having to diagnose this problem as the second rover, Opportunity, races towards Mars.

- Tom | permalink | changelog | Last updated: 2004-01-22 19:25

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