What is the Spirit Rover?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

The Spirit Rover is robot that has gone where no human has traveled before. It is part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) exploration of Mars, and it has a twin robot called Opportunity. Both robots were designed with a number of features that allow them to collect and document information on Mars, and they began this work in 2003, when they were launched, and especially in 2004, when they landed within two weeks of each other on Mars’ surface.

The Spirit Rover has traveled to Mars.
The Spirit Rover has traveled to Mars.

Both the Explorer and Spirit Rover can move across Mars because of heavy-duty wheels, though Spirit got stuck in spring of 2009. They possess other instruments like panoramic cameras, spectrometers, which help to identify different types of materials, magnets, and microscopic imagers. As Sprit Rover and Explorer collect information, this is transmitted back to NASA scientists so it can be analyzed.

The world is indebted to these two robots for most of the precise information had on Mars. Manned explorations to Mars would be challenging, though they are certainly being considered. However, these mechanical geologists have functioned very well in their collections and observations, and they’ve revealed lots of information about geological structure and what this means about Mars’ past. For instance, studies by the robots do seem to confirm that Mars once had a fair amount of water.

There have been several objectives planned for Spirit Rover and Explorer. These include searching for soil or rocks that would suggest water on the planet, evaluating geological structures to determine how they were formed and checking the facts of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. This is a spacecraft that orbited Mars and performed geological surveys from above the planet.

Though both Rovers have done very well, they’ve not been perfect in their mission. First, their mission has lasted much longer than previously planned because they’ve outperformed initial expectation of run-time. Spirit Rover caused anxiety when it first landed on Mars because it began to cut off communication from time to time and it got stuck. In 2009, it was stuck again in soft soil. Its accidents have sometimes proved victorious. When Spirit lost a wheel, this caused it to remove some surface layers of soil, revealing an environment that may have once harbored microbial life forms, or suggests certain types of features on Mars exist that would be extremely compatible with at least microbial life.

The opportunities to view photographs taken by Explorer and Spirit Rover are truly unique. Many of the photographs taken and findings documented by the Rovers are available on the NASA website. These are worth viewing, if only for the fact that there is nothing like them in this world.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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