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.