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Spirit Spacecraft

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December 12, 2007 | John Johnson Jr., Times Staff Writer
With their third Martian winter fast approaching, the twin rovers patrolling opposite sides of the Red Planet are showing distinct signs of age, even as they uncover fresh evidence that the planet was once hospitable to rudimentary life forms. In fact, Spirit made one of its most significant discoveries because of its deteriorating health.
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SCIENCE
December 12, 2007 | John Johnson Jr., Times Staff Writer
With their third Martian winter fast approaching, the twin rovers patrolling opposite sides of the Red Planet are showing distinct signs of age, even as they uncover fresh evidence that the planet was once hospitable to rudimentary life forms. In fact, Spirit made one of its most significant discoveries because of its deteriorating health.
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SCIENCE
February 3, 2004 | Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writer
NASA's Spirit rover is alive and well -- and back to work on Mars, mission controllers said Monday. "Spirit made incredible progress over the weekend," said mission manager Jennifer Trosper. "Today we are doing science on Spirit. She is back to the state she was in on Day One." Halfway around Mars, Spirit's twin, Opportunity, sent back its first full-color panorama of the small crater it landed in on Jan. 24 and deployed its instrument arm to begin looking at the soil more closely.
SCIENCE
April 15, 2006 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
The Mars rover Spirit, hampered by a broken wheel, has failed to reach its destination and will spend the Martian winter at an alternate site, scientists said Monday. After failing three times to get it to climb McCool Hill, engineers steered Spirit to a closer slope, where it arrived over the weekend, said principal scientist Steve Squyres of Cornell University. The new site should provide enough sunlight for Spirit, but the light won't be as strong as it would have been on McCool Hill.
SCIENCE
January 14, 2004 | Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writer
NASA's Spirit rover severed its final connection to its lander and made the first of three turns that will line it up for its roll-off after 1 a.m. Thursday. "It's ready to rove," flight director Chris Lewicki said Tuesday. All that's left are two more turns scheduled for overnight Tuesday that will point the rover north-northwest for the roll-off.
SCIENCE
January 24, 2004 | Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writer
As NASA's Opportunity rover streaked toward Mars for its 9:05 landing this evening, its crippled twin, Spirit, began transmitting data to Earth again -- albeit very slowly -- after nearly 48 hours of relative silence. Spirit, which landed on Mars on Jan. 3, sent back about 30 minutes' worth of engineering data.
SCIENCE
January 21, 2004 | Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writer
The Spirit rover's first look at the soil of Mars has left earthbound researchers pleased and a little puzzled -- pleased because the instruments are working exceptionally well and puzzled because some initial results were not quite what they expected. The findings "have posed some new questions for us to pursue in the weeks and months ahead," said principal investigator Steven Squyres of Cornell University.
SCIENCE
June 16, 2004 | Eric D. Tytell, Times Staff Writer
Showing its advancing age, NASA's Spirit rover has developed a problem in one of its six wheels but has overcome a communications glitch that was preventing it from receiving commands from Earth, mission controllers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena said Tuesday. The right front wheel is using two to three times more electricity than the others, suggesting that the wheel is failing, team members said.
SCIENCE
January 13, 2004 | Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writer
NASA's Spirit rover is continuing on course for its scheduled roll-off from the Mars lander sometime early Thursday morning. Engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena have been rehearsing the roll-off using lander prototypes and are ready to begin the real process overnight Monday. The first step will be to sever the 2-inch cable connecting the rover to the lander using what amounts to a guillotine powered by a small explosive.
SCIENCE
January 27, 2004 | Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writer
The malfunctioning of NASA's Spirit rover on Mars was apparently caused by a memory shortage that sent the craft into an endless cycle of computer reboots, officials at Pasadena's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said Monday. Like an underpowered home PC, Spirit does not have enough random access memory, or RAM, to juggle the massive number of data files it accumulated during its flight to Mars.
SCIENCE
October 17, 2004 | John Johnson, Times Staff Writer
Winter on Mars is a cruel season. Nights are long. The sun is a shrunken orb, appearing half its size from Earth. With temperatures plunging to a heart-stopping minus 175 degrees, there is little relief from the alien chill. What lies ahead is even worse: dust storm season, when howling, planet-wide siroccos can claw at the surface and choke the atmosphere. NASA's twin rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, have been operating in this brutal environment since they landed on Mars in January.
SCIENCE
June 16, 2004 | Eric D. Tytell, Times Staff Writer
Showing its advancing age, NASA's Spirit rover has developed a problem in one of its six wheels but has overcome a communications glitch that was preventing it from receiving commands from Earth, mission controllers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena said Tuesday. The right front wheel is using two to three times more electricity than the others, suggesting that the wheel is failing, team members said.
SCIENCE
June 12, 2004 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
NASA's Spirit rover has discovered more evidence of water on Mars, a high concentration of salt in a trench dug by the rover in the Gusev Crater region it has been exploring. "We have found more evidence of salts, more evidence for the action of water -- much more compelling evidence than we found anywhere else at Gusev," said principal scientist Steven Squyres of Cornell University.
SCIENCE
April 3, 2004 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
NASA's Spirit rover uncovered more evidence that there was once water on Mars, although not in the quantities its twin Opportunity found traces of halfway around the planet last month, the space agency said Thursday. Spirit found clues that limited amounts of water altered a volcanic rock, coursing through tiny fissures that crisscross the boulder and cementing together the multiple layers that mask its surface.
SCIENCE
March 12, 2004 | Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writer
After traveling over the Martian surface for more than 30 days to reach the "Bonneville" crater, NASA's Spirit rover peeked over the rim and found that the crater floor looked very much like the terrain it had already passed over, researchers said Thursday. Notably absent in the 220-yard-diameter crater were rock outcroppings like those found by Spirit's twin, Opportunity, halfway around Mars in a much smaller crater at Meridiani Planum.
SCIENCE
February 20, 2004 | Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writer
The first look beneath the Martian surface has shown that the soil composition changes dramatically with depth and hints that trace amounts of water have been present recently or may even be there now, researchers said Thursday. The Opportunity rover has spent the last three days examining a 4-inch-deep, 20-inch-long trench it created with its front wheel in Meridiani Planum.
SCIENCE
March 12, 2004 | Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writer
After traveling over the Martian surface for more than 30 days to reach the "Bonneville" crater, NASA's Spirit rover peeked over the rim and found that the crater floor looked very much like the terrain it had already passed over, researchers said Thursday. Notably absent in the 220-yard-diameter crater were rock outcroppings like those found by Spirit's twin, Opportunity, halfway around Mars in a much smaller crater at Meridiani Planum.
SCIENCE
January 9, 2004 | Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writer
NASA's Spirit rover sent back another high-definition color picture of Mars on Thursday, a view north from the rear of the lander showing Sleepy Hollow, a depression that mission scientists think may be the first destination when the rover rolls off the landing platform sometime next week.
SCIENCE
February 7, 2004 | Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writer
The computer problems that plagued NASA's Spirit rover have been repaired, and its twin, Opportunity, has rolled away from its landing site to begin studying an intriguing rock outcropping that may provide crucial information about the history of water on Mars, mission controllers said Friday. "Our patient [Spirit] is healed," said mission manager Jennifer Trosper. Engineers at Pasadena's Jet Propulsion Laboratory erased Spirit's flash memory and reformatted it.
SCIENCE
February 3, 2004 | Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writer
NASA's Spirit rover is alive and well -- and back to work on Mars, mission controllers said Monday. "Spirit made incredible progress over the weekend," said mission manager Jennifer Trosper. "Today we are doing science on Spirit. She is back to the state she was in on Day One." Halfway around Mars, Spirit's twin, Opportunity, sent back its first full-color panorama of the small crater it landed in on Jan. 24 and deployed its instrument arm to begin looking at the soil more closely.
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