Monday, May 30, 2011

Goodnight, Goodbye, And Thank You, Spirit

NASA has terminated all attempts at contacting the Spirit Rover on Mars after the latest unsuccessful attempts.

This is not like calling off the search for a missing human explorer. And yet it feels similar, even though Spirit is a six-wheeled robotic vehicle, not even remotely human in appearance, even by Wall-E standards. Still, it is strangely easy to personify Spirit. Over the years, it has seemed intrepid, valiant, determined. It has no consciousness, but there has been something self-knowing in the photographs it has taken of itself, with Mars in the background. In its plight — stuck on the edge of a small crater tens of millions of miles from Earth — we feel a celestial solitude, as if we were marooned there ourselves.

Check out the Spirit coming strip on the PhysicsWorld blog.

It was a rover that could, and performed way beyond all expectations. It is a testament to the ingenuity of those who designed, built, and operated it.


1 comment:

James said...

Here is a relevant xkcd cartoon strip.