A Heartfelt Goodbye to a Spirited Mars Rover

By John Callas

Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager John Callas sent this letter to his team shortly after the final command was sent to the Mars rover Sprit, which operated on the surface of Mars for more than six years and made numerous scientific discoveries.

Artist's concept of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover
Artist’s concept of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Dear Team,

Last night, just after midnight, the last recovery command was sent to Spirit. It would be an understatement to say that this was a significant moment. Since the last communication from Spirit on March 22, 2010 (Sol 2210), as she entered her fourth Martian winter, nothing has been heard from her. There is a continued silence from the Gusev site on Mars.

We must remember that we are at this point because we did what we said we would do, to wear the rovers out exploring. For Spirit, we have done that, and then some.

Spirit was designed as a 3-month mission with a kilometer of traverse capability. The rover lasted over 6 years and drove over 7.7 kilometers [4.8 miles] and returned over 124,000 images. Importantly, it is not how long the rover lasted, but how much exploration and discovery Spirit has done.

This is a rover that faced continuous challenges and had to fight for every discovery. Nothing came easy for Spirit. When she landed, she had the Sol 18 flash memory anomaly that threatened her survival. Scientifically, Mars threw a curveball. What was to be a site for lakebed sediments at Gusev, turned out to be a plain of volcanic material as far as the rover eye could see. So Spirit dashed across the plains in an attempt to reach the distant Columbia Hills, believed to be more ancient than the plains.

Exceeding her prime mission duration and odometry, Spirit scrambled up the Columbia Hills, performing Martian mountaineering, something she was never designed to do. There Spirit found her first evidence of water-altered rocks, and later, carbonates.

The environment for Spirit was always harsher than for Opportunity. The winters are deeper and darker. And Gusev is much dustier than Meridiani. Spirit had an ever-increasing accumulation of dust on her arrays. Each winter became harder than the last.

It was after her second Earth year on Mars when Spirit descended down the other side of the Columbia Hills that she experienced the first major failure of the mission, her right-front wheel failed. Spirit had to re-learn to drive with just five wheels, driving mostly backwards dragging her failed wheel. It is out of this failure that Spirit made one of the most significant discoveries of the mission. Out of lemons, Spirit made lemonade.

Each winter was hard for Spirit. But with ever-accumulating dust and the failed wheel that limited the maximum achievable slope, Spirit had no options for surviving the looming fourth winter. So we made a hard push toward some high-value science to the south. But the first path there, up onto Home Plate, was not passable. So we went for Plan B, around to the northeast of Home Plate. That too was not passable and the clock was ticking. We were left with our last choice, the longest and most risky, to head around Home Plate to the west.

It was along this path that Spirit, with her degraded 5-wheel driving, broke through an unseen hazard and became embedded in unconsolidated fine material that trapped the rover. Even this unfortunate event turned into another exciting scientific discovery. We conducted a very ambitious extrication effort, but the extrication on Mars ran out of time with the fourth winter and was further complicated by another wheel failure.

With no favorable tilt and more dust on the arrays, Spirit likely ran out of energy and succumbed to the cold temperatures during the fourth winter. There was a plausible expectation that the rover might survive the cold and wake up in the spring, but a lack of response from the rover after more than 1,200 recovery commands were sent to rouse her indicates that Spirit will sleep forever.

But let’s remember the adventure we have had. Spirit has climbed mountains, survived rover-killing dust storms, rode out three cold, dark winters and made some of the most spectacular discoveries on Mars. She has told us that Mars was once like Earth. There was water and hot springs, the conditions that could have supported life. She has given us a foundation to further explore the Red Planet and to understand ourselves and our place in the universe.

But in addition to all the scientific discoveries Spirit has given us in her long, productive rover life, she has also given us a great intangible. Mars is no longer a strange, distant and unknown place. Mars is now our neighborhood. And we all go to work on Mars every day. Thank you, Spirit. Well done, little rover.

And to all of you, well done, too.


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    121 Responses to “A Heartfelt Goodbye to a Spirited Mars Rover”

  1. Mostafa Molazehi Says:
    May 25th, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Thanks to Dear Dr.Firouz Naderi and Tem

  2. Francisco Says:
    May 25th, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    It’s like seeing a child for the last time, it gives you fear, tendernes, it makes you feel like a father or mother. And then you let it go to an unknown place, then you help it from the distance unti the very last time of it’s existence.
    Rest in peace spirit and thank you for all you gave us.

  3. Marti McKenna Says:
    May 25th, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Thank you, John, for sharing this letter with the rest of us. I’m having a hard time with the “don’t grieve, celebrate” thing myself, and I can’t imagine it’s any easier for you guys. I applaud you all for your hard work and can certainly celebrate that and Oppy’s continued successes and discoveries. But some part of me will always hope that Spirit wakes up and calls home or, failing that, that you send me to Mars with a hairdryer.


  4. Nuno Says:
    May 25th, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Uma grande máquina que pouco a pouco foi tornando-se humana e entrou nos nossos corações, parabéns Spirit e a minha admiração a equipa do JPL.

  5. Glen Nagle Says:
    May 25th, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Spirit has done so much more than change our understanding of Mars.
    She is more than the sum of her parts or the discoveries she made possible.
    She is feet, hands, eyes, tools and senses (dare I say ’soul’) of a team of scientists, engineers, drivers and dreamers who believed in her and guided her across a planet that rarely made her journey an easy one.

    Over the last 7+ years we have seen how she has changed the public’s perception and understanding of space exploration and how she (and her sister) inspired a new community of amateur space explorers and helped establish the notion of ‘participatory exploration’.

    She has been the catalyst for countless numbers of children to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Children who will one day follow in her tracks, exploring worlds across the Solar System and beyond.

    Thank you to all who worked on and with, and cared for Spirit.
    You are her living legacy.

    Spirit’s adventure will continue for a trillion, trillion sols to come and none of us will ever forget her.

  6. Kevin McCauley Says:
    May 25th, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Spirit is the the little rover that did! I have been a space enthusiast since Neil & Buzz landed when I was 8 years old. The MER program has been the most successful robotic mission (imo) to date! I applaud the teams of incredible people who designed, built, launched, flew, landed and operated these intrepid explorers that I have grown to love and admire as if they were alive themselves. I shed a tear for my little Spirit, may she rest for now and one day hopefully be returned home and placed in the Smithsonian, thats what she deserves!

  7. Suresh Says:
    May 25th, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    Simply Fantastic! Great synopsis of the valiant Spirit. And of course, congratulations on a job well done to the team without whom Spirit would not have achieved all that she did. She will forever be remembered in the annals of Human space exploration.

    RIP Spirit.

  8. Matteo Says:
    May 25th, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    To Spirit and the Rover team. You changed the way we look to machines, for real, and our idea of science and exploration. This is something that will grow. Thank you!

  9. wayne smith Says:
    May 25th, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Just so good ! I’ve been following this program from the start and it has brought so much enjoyment to so many…..thanks to the entire team for all of their hard work….

  10. Mike Gale Says:
    May 25th, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them.

  11. Rafael Dolinski Says:
    May 25th, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    Thanks John and all the people that worked with the Spirit. That little rover brought so much information to us, so many great pictures that I loved and shared with my family. So much knowledge and fun. I love the space and Mars and to have access to such wonderful far places is amazing, just amazing.
    It sure was an fantastic job from you guys. I admire your work so much!

    Thanks Spirit!!

    Take care,
    Rafael Dolinski
    São Paulo, Brazil

  12. Tricia Avenido Says:
    May 25th, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    “Spirit” a fitting name. Also goes to show that tenacity goes a long way…Things always seemed to turn out harder and harsher for her than was expected, and she lost pieces of herself along the way and yet she lasted 6 years, not just 3 months. Yes, “Spirit” is most definitely a fitting name! Her legacy and what she represents will last forever. =)

  13. Karel Says:
    May 25th, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    Well done Spirit and the entire team!

    Since the very beginning I have followed this amazing tale and celebrated the discoveries she made with admiration and I’am sure above all she will keep the spirit alive for all mankind to keep wondering about the great unknown and the desire to explore it!

    Once again, great respect to all of you involved in this project!

  14. Lisa Hayes Says:
    May 25th, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    I have been a fan of NASA and the space initiative since President Kennedy said we should reach for the stars and we did! I watched history in the making with Alan Shepard’s first flight into space as well as the rest of the early astronauts, and the Apollo history with Apollo 13 and all those that have followed over the years. Because of their initiatives taken, the Space Shuttle’s exploration and space station stays, and now Spirit’s 4-year mission that was more than was originally hoped for, we are still in the Space Race and learning more and more as time goes on. Thank you for your epitaph on Spirit’s valliant effort to remain viable in the face of overwhelming odds. Unless a manned flight to Mars happens in the future, I doubt that Spirit will come home to Earth to rest, but at least she has a place that she will stay for eternity if she cannot get home any other way. Well done, good and faithful servant. Rest in Peace.

  15. Rob' Ramos Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 1:33 am

    omg, I’m actually crying.

    A wonderful summation, sir John. Thank you for this wonderful eulogy for a rover that has become beloved by many. Of course, both will always be treasured by those of us who’ve followed their wild and wonderful romp across the Red Planet, but Spirit will always hold a special place in my heart for all she’s done despite the odds Fate threw her way.

    To the team, thank you for everything, for all the hard work and perseverance. From the designers who designed one of the most amazing robot explorers ever, to the drivers and specialists who kept Spirit going on despite everything… thank you.

    And to Spirit, for a wonderful six years, for all you gave humanity. You were named true. Rest now, you wonderful explorer, a rest you more than deserve.

    And when Man finally sets foot on Mars, I hope we put up a monument for you, no matter how small, in remembrance of a gallant little probe that surmounted the odds to greatly expand human knowledge, and the amazing humans who were behind her every inch of the way.

  16. Jim Tyler Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 5:39 am

    I sit here stunned by this sad news. But grateful to the many wonders of Spirit. Aside from the great scientific discoveries, Spirit did something far more wonderful. She gave us a personal contact with Mars that will only be surpassed by one other event - Man’s actual walking on Mars.
    You cannot imaging what great pleasure I had in viewing the many images, amazed at the beauty of Mars (”Magnificent desolation” to quote Buzz Aldrin, but Mars was anything to me except desolate). Bare in mind that I grew up not only watching the Moon landings live on TV, but all the Gemini early Apollo flights leading up to the Moon (I was born in 1957, but don’t remember seeing Mercury). So, to me, seeing near-live pictures from Mars was astounding!
    I conclude with these wishes: Thank, you and eternal rest to Spirit; Godspeed, Opportunity; I hope to see men walk on Mars quite a few times in my life (Hurry, I’m 54!); and, I hope that one landing site will be at Spirit’s last stop - Not to take her away, but maybe some needed material, and lots of pictures.
    Thank you, Spirit team. My condolences, and job very well done!

  17. O.G. Mike Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 5:53 am

    Why is this machine a “she” and “her”? Why not a “he”? Seems sexist to me. The rover is an “it”.

  18. A Heartfelt Goodbye to a Spirited Mars Rover | JPL Blog | Hometown Pasadena | Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 6:58 am

    [...] Read on Blog’s site » [...]

  19. Carol Southern Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 7:04 am

    It’s hard not to anthropomorphize: I wish that Opportunity could rescue Spirit, but I understand why…

  20. Bloodthirsty Liberal » RIP Spirit Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 8:14 am

    [...] She’s gone: Dear Team, [...]

  21. 26.05.11: Farwell, Spirit… : Astro Guyz Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 8:40 am

    [...] and spacecraft redesigns, a small story came our way of the end of an era; earlier this week, NASA announced that it would no longer attempt to hail the Spirit Lander on the surface of Mars. Of course, we [...]

  22. Sonia Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 8:43 am

    OMG I am sad :( …thanks for all the great job done Spirit!!

  23. Sonia Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 8:48 am

    From the bottom of my heart, hope you’ll be taking back to the Earth some day. My best wishes for you Spirit from a little country of your native planet, Peru!

  24. R.Gagne Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Thank’s to everyone involve with Spirit journey on Mars….historical moments to remember.

  25. Tim Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 10:20 am

    I knew this day was coming and I had hoped Spirit would rise one more time but no. So I celebrate this moment. It’s been a great ride. Well done team.

  26. Pep Brown Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 10:30 am

    I’ve really enjoied by following Spirit and opportunity adventures on Mars. They always amazed me with their discoveries…. Farewell Spirit!

  27. Jedim Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Estimados, escribo en español, lengua materna, desde Chile, al fin del mundo por el sur.
    Desde este remoto lugar, escribo con mucha pena y tristeza, por el amigo caido en accion, por el soldado muerto en batalla, por cumplir una mision. Esperando que algun dia vuelva a casa glorioso y triunfante. Spirit fue y será el más grande de todos los rovert’s construidos. Pavimento un sendero lleno de dudas, controversia y dificultades, supo salir adelante pese a todas las dificultades. Gracias a la gente que hizo posible todo los descubrimientos realizados. Nos emociona quizas la partida de este rovert’s por la falta de Heroes hoy en dia, y este de seguro es EL MÁS GRANDE DE TODOS. Gracias Spirit, gracias a todo el equipo que manejo y le proporciono la vida a este rovert. Saludos y hasta muy pronto querido Spirit. We loved, bless

  28. gary Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Another mission well done and another monument to add to the growingones up there with the Vikings and the Sorjourner and of course the crashed american/Russian probes, rock on ROVERS! Next one will be NUKE PWERED so it will be AWE-Sum!!!!!

  29. David Clow Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Everyone on the Spirit team can be proud of every day she worked, every inch she crossed, and every astounding photo she sent back. And every American owes you all our gratitude for this virtuoso display of curiosity, competence, dedication and enthusiasm you gave us. The best of America was at work here. Thanks for taking us all on this spectacular adventure.

  30. Giovanni Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Eterna gratitudine a tutti coloro che hanno consentito al nostro “Spirito” di volare sempre più in alto.

  31. phil pritchard Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Perhaps one day, someone may fetch Spirit back home.

  32. German Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    El Hardware se quedo en Marte, pero el Software sigue vivo entre nosotros…
    Buen trabajo!!
    The hardware was left on Mars, but the software still alive between us …
    Good job!!

  33. Henrique Matos Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Valeu, Spirit!
    Serás lembrada para sempre por tuas descoberta. Parabéns JPL. Por essas pessoas e feitos é que dá orgulho de ser humano.

  34. Well Done, Little Rover. | Talk of Our Towns | Hometown Pasadena | Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    [...] Read Callas’ complete letter here. [...]

  35. Michael Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    I’m a fan of the space exploration. When I was three, I witnessed Apollo 11 landing on July 20. It was my earliest brain memory. I later learned about history of the astronomy, rocket pioneers, and space exploration. In 1965, Mariner 4 was the first successful spacecraft to reach Mars after USSR/later Russia’s Mars 1 lost contact in cruising flight to Mars. In 1971, Mars 3 Orbiter released Mars 3 Lander that made a landing on Mars. 20 seconds after landing, it lost contact in the possible major dust storms. Mars 3’s “Marskhod” was actually a small rover. In 1976, Viking 1 became the first successful lander to reach Mars. Viking 2 followed. Twenty-first later, Mars Pathfinder landed successfully on Mars and released Sojourner that became the first rover to rove Mars. In 2003, I watched Mars Exploration Rovers launched on TV live. In 2004, Spirit and Opportunity explored Mars after landing. They were still active in over six years until Spirit ended operating. Its still-active twin Opportunity is still going and going and going to Mars’ Endeavour crater. Our next-generation Mars rover Curiosity is scheduled to launch this autumn. Great job, NASA. Farewell, Spirit. Rest in peace.

  36. Jeff Fielding Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    To everyone who made it possible for us to share in Spirit’s incredible journey: thank you so much.

    I hope one day people will be able to see that plucky little rover in the Mars annex to the Smithsonian.

  37. Andrew Hindmarch Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    I’m one of those who grew up with the Apollo missions and I teach these and the adventures of Spirit and Opportunity at science events at the local schools . ‘Always teach children to reach for the stars’.

    A fabulous heart rending tribute. I knew this day had to come but we followed the journey of Spirit continuously until they became ‘alive’ and had their own personalities.

    Thank you to all at NASA for sharing this with and we will make sure we never forget your little rover named ‘Spirit’.

  38. Earl Pleasant, Jr. Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    This amazing adventure has ended. Looked at one way, it has all the best elements of a novel the late Robert Heinlein might have written. A team of competent engineers and scientists on Earth sends a pair of twin sisters -geniuses - to explore Mars. But one, Spirit, decides to live her own life, wild and free. Injury slows her progress, but she tries that much harder to explore. For a time, even the dust and the bitter cold can’t stop her. Somehow, even injured, she surprises the team with important discoveries. But finally the harsh elements win; even she can’t overcome them one more time.

    There is one difference in the plot, however. You see, this is a true story of outstanding teamwork, suspense, surprises, persistence, tragedy, and ultimate triumph.

  39. Chris Seale Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    Exceptional, inspiring, amazing. Spirit and Opportunity, and the teams who designed, built, and managed them, stand as such remarkable examples of what’s possible when you think big, demand the best and most from yourself and each other, and never say die. Believe it when I say that you are my heroes. Fantastic work.

  40. Museo de la Ciencia de Valladolid » El largo adiós de MER Spirit Says:
    May 27th, 2011 at 3:47 am

    [...] información sobre Spirit aquí, y en este otro enlace podéis leer (en inglés) una entrada de John Callas, jefe de proyecto de MER, en la que se “despide” del rover. Pero si queréis algo denso, dentro de la web del [...]

  41. Jonatas7t Says:
    May 27th, 2011 at 7:43 am

    I thank the spirit a beautiful work done by him and his team. Thanks Spirit. NASA tras please him back. Goodbye spirit. we love you.

  42. Kimberly M Says:
    May 27th, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Once JFK said “We choose to go to the moon… because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win…” I pray we will always keep exploring the challenges! Thanks for a great run.

  43. Michel Cusson Says:
    May 27th, 2011 at 10:10 am

    What an exploit this little probe brought all interested. As with Opportunity, Spirit went beyond the gameplan and inspired us in exploring what Mars is and ,most important, imagining what it was… What I enjoyed the most of this were the pictures: just to see Sun setting on another planet, dustdevils sweeping the surroundings and following the scientists findings of ancient water patterns makes it worthwhile in staying tuned with these wheeled probes in their over-achieved sejour… Can’t wait till Curiosity gets rolling… Cm2k11

  44. Ellie on Planet X - Goodbye, Spirit! Says:
    May 27th, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    [...] reader Carsten pointed us to this article at the NASA JPL website. Spirit, one of the two twin rovers that had been making their ways across [...]

  45. Eric Hertenberger Says:
    May 27th, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Spirit: “It took a licking and kept on ticking.” I hope someday they bring it back to earth to the air & space museum. I would love to see it up close.

  46. Malingo Says:
    May 28th, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Thanks for letting us join the great journey.
    One day, we, our children, or our grandchildren, will stand there, next to Spirit.

  47. James Katt Says:
    May 28th, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Goodbye, Spirit.
    We will miss you.

    And thanks for all the fish.

  48. Larry Button Says:
    May 28th, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    So sad to see the end of Spirit. But I really enjoyed following her many adventures and pics returned from her. Spirit should be remembered for not only the contributions made to science but for her tenacity to overcome the many challenges she met along the way. The whole team who commanded Spirit should be very proud of their accomplishiments and are to be congratulated, job well done!

    Thank You

  49. Spirit’s mission ends : Hobbies and Rides Says:
    May 29th, 2011 at 5:27 am

    [...] NASA’s Spirit Rover Completes Mission on Mars – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory /– A Heartfelt Goodbye to a Spirited Mars Rover – JPL Blog /– NASA closes book on Spirit rover’s historic mission – Spaceflight Now /– [...]

  50. Adam Burgess Says:
    May 30th, 2011 at 4:48 am

    Every day, for the last four years, it has been my routine to log on to the rovers web site, and check the latest updates and pictures. I often sit there, zooming in and out, taking in every rock, and every grain of dust. I felt an intimate connection and longing for this lonely desolate place. Spirits eyes were my eyes. To think, such a lifeless place, with such a weight of silent, unwitnessed time. No warmth of consciousness to light its cold landscape for billions and billions of years. Then came spirit. Then came us.

    Her path mirrors that of every one of us. She extends the spark of life, of consciousness to the dark, silent unseen places. When they are seen, they become wonderous and beautiful. To strive, to give every ounce of once being to the last…this is heroic.

    The greatest gift, your team has given me is something more than visiting another world. For the first time, I feel I can visit my own. Having seen another world, I feel like a stranger on my own. Rolling oceans, blue sky, mountains, streams, colours textures and ….Life!!!!!!! My God, I finally see my wonderous blue home is teeming with Life! How precocious this pageant of life is! How fragile and beautiful. There is hope for our strange species.

    God Bless you all! You have brought poetry to cold far away place.

  51. mpanga.peter Says:
    May 30th, 2011 at 5:25 am

    Something which was suposed to last for six months,then it goes for 7+ years
    that is a big achievement.Thanks to all engineers of NASA.

  52. Ken O'Brien Says:
    May 30th, 2011 at 8:10 am

    Yes, well done, little rover Spirit. You have broadened our horizons.

    Though the Mars Exploration Rovers are an American project through NASA and JPL, many people in countries around the world — like me in Canada — have shared in the excitement of this exploration. We live in marvelous times.

  53. John Rogers Says:
    May 30th, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Every week - as I checked on “my” Rover - the comment revealed, “Spirit Remains Silent at Troy”. I have had difficulty reading beyond that - but now that the last command has been sent - it is time to say goodbye.

    Thank you NASA for sharing this mission with an awe struck public - and thank you John for your words of departure.

  54. Adam Burgess Says:
    May 30th, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    The greatest gift, your team has given me is something more than visiting another world. For the first time, I feel I can visit my own. Having seen another planet, I feel like a stranger on my own planet. Rolling oceans, blue sky, mountains, streams, colours textures and ….Life!!!!!!! My God, my wonderous blue home is teeming with Life! How fecund this pageant of life is! How fragile and beautiful is our wonderous home.

    God Bless you all! You have brought poetry to a cold far away place.

  55. Marek Jarzembowski Says:
    May 31st, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    I stuimbled on to this site some years ago and was absolutely enthralled, as a complete layman, by the thought that somwhere out there the first steps of “Star Trek” are being taken.
    Over the years this has been one of the web-sites that I have visited most frequently and for the last year I have done so almost daily, hoping against hope that Spirit would respond. I have no reason for this, just the deep, almost visceral need hope that the future is just around the corner, waiting for us to arrive.
    This little planet of ours is beautiful and wonderful. What wouldn’t I give to be able to see more of these “beautiful and wonderful” places.
    Thank you Spirit for letting me see through your “eyes” the first steps on the journey “where no man has gone before”.

  56. Karl Gerds Says:
    May 31st, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Thank you. That was a beautiful and fitting tribute to Spirit and to all those humans who made it possible.

  57. William Stillings Says:
    May 31st, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    R.I.P. Spirit rover. a Great Spirit that has Proven Life on Mars time and time again.
    as Andrew D. Basiago says
    ” Mars is an Inhabited planet “

  58. Peter de Vries Says:
    May 31st, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    Vanaf het eerste begin volgde ik de avonturen van Spirit. Ik zal de verhalen en foto’s missen… thank you Spirit!!

  59. Doc42 Says:
    June 1st, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Thank you very much Spirit for so many beautiful pictures and great science !!! I followed every day of your adventure from beginning of the project and I’m very happy because the result is better than my best dreams :)
    I continue in my language. Thanks.

    Merci mille fois pour la plus belle exploration de Mars à ce jour !!! c’est une étape importante qui a été franchi. Mars apparait maintenant beaucoup plus proche et nous tends les bras plus que jamais.
    Vivement le premier pas de l’homme sur Mars… Spirit aura été un important éclaireur pour l’accomplissement de ce rêve.

    Encore une fois, un grand BRAVO pour la mission qui m’a fait le plus rêver de toutes les missions spatiales jamais faite à ce jour. (je n’oublie pas opportunity)

    Spirit est maintenant éternelle!

  60. Bob Silverstein Says:
    June 2nd, 2011 at 10:10 am

    A great job by all. I repeat what others have said long ago.

    ave atque vale


  61. Peter Lindsay Says:
    June 3rd, 2011 at 5:52 am

    Thanks Nasa for the beautiful trip I have had for so long on Mars.
    The photos and discoveries Spirit gave us are what counts most for Nasa and USA to have done this great science experiment and journey to Mars for such a long time.
    I have enjoyed this interesting event for the entire time and will still do so with Spirit’s partner still going about its job of discovery on distant Mars.
    And while I am at this comment, may I add that I continue to closely watch what Cassini is doing even further afield then Mars and with wow! and awsome results traversing around Saturn and its moons.
    While merrily taking photos and carrying out experiments that I have this funny feeling about Cassini.
    I feel Cassini is soon to reveal to the world something far more interesting then we first thought that would be out there.
    Hold your breath because I can almost predict that by the time Cassini completes its mission and not to mention its extended missions, something is soon to be revealed to us here something spectacular that it will shock everyone indeed.

  62. RIP Mars Rover Spirit. - FFCars.com : Factory Five Racing Discussion Forum Says:
    June 3rd, 2011 at 6:43 am

    [...] Blog - NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

  63. Elizabeth Rock Says:
    June 3rd, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Farewell, little rover. Designed to last 3 months, you ran for 6 years. At last, you made Mars visible to its small blue neighbor - and in the process took us all on a nearly unimaginable trip. I can recall the chill I felt when I saw for the first time, the first images of the surface of Mars. And what images - not blurry, indistinct long-shots, but extraordinary, detailed views. Here was the surface of Mars, at eye level; the dust, rocks, colors, textures, just beyond our own fingertips.
    Kudos to the amazing people at NASA on your team, for their tremendous engineering, and for creating this extraordinary mission; a journey that has captured the imaginations and hearts of a tired, jaded nation. I too am one of those people who checked the Spirit page almost daily. Thank you for this journey. All hail Spirit.

  64. Spirit, RIP «ScrollPost.com Says:
    June 3rd, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    [...] [...]

  65. Clark Jeschke Says:
    June 3rd, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Goodbye Spirit! I have been following the two rovers ever since they landed. I was always followed Spirit just a little more than Opportunity. Maybe it’s because Spirit got there first. Anyway, it was tough to see that Spirit was still silent each time I would check the site. It’s like a friend was in a coma and you didn’t know if they would come out of it. And now we know that Spirit is truly gone; but not forgotten. Thanks for everything, Spirit!

  66. Don Emanuel Says:
    June 3rd, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Dependable. Resourceful. Enlightening. Forever proud, May the Spirit of Mars live on.

  67. Richard Gempere Says:
    June 4th, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    I have been following the mars rover program over all the years as a bystander and I can only congratulate the engeneering team at NASA`s JPL. All of you working there to give us the understanding and knowlege of Mars I can only thank you for all of the exciting pictures and reports we could share with you. Thank you

  68. richard thompson Says:
    June 5th, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    i have been wathcing the explorations of spirit and opportunity since the beginning. this has been the most amazing experience and the most educatuional trip of my life, from rocks to dust to mars snowflakes, the last 6 years of the rovers travels has been one of the best times for the human spirit, we have all been enriched by the pictures, the science, the tireless efforts of the team. opportunity will go on to her destiny and will someday join spirit in her sleep. i believe none will ever appriciate the true value of these rovers and the discoverys that they have and continue to make.
    thank you SPIRIT! sleep well.
    OPPORTUNITY! keep on keeping on!
    thanks to the team for six years of amazing stuff. i will still keep you guys in my favorites!
    richard thompson

  69. L Toure Says:
    June 5th, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    Dreams of the moon, to the plains of Mars…Spirit has certainly exceeded expectations, and delighted us with a plethora of information and images.

    As I sit here and think about a possible martian breeze, massaging the compounded metallic chassis; slowly concealing the Spirit as she slumbers…I cannot help but imagine future spirits roaming the plains, following her trail, and paying homage.

    God willing, One Day…

  70. Ann Smythe Says:
    June 6th, 2011 at 9:32 am

    It may be silly, but I cried when Spirit “died”…..what an awesome gift she gave us! I am amazed that we could visit another planet through her eyes; she was a wonderfully engineered machine. Congrats to those who conceived and built her and her sister, Opportunity. You did a fantastic job and the visions of Mars that the rovers have given us are priceless. To a baby boomer, it’s an awesome and magical gift to be able to view those pictures of Mars…..how much we can accomplish is truly amazing. Thank you to all the NASA and JPL people who worked so hard to try and save her. You did your best. And thank you, little Spirit, you plucky little machine, for all you gave us. Rest in peace, job well done!

  71. Joe Colletti Says:
    June 6th, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Congratulations to the Spirit team for a job well done!!!

  72. HilaryC Says:
    June 7th, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    It’s when spirit stood on top of Columbia Hills and had a look around that I was most moved, that Mars seemed most real to me.

    An amazing achievement, and a source of inspiration to all.

  73. ED 83 Says:
    June 7th, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    Thank you Spirit for your discovery. I will never forget you. Goodbye!

  74. Richard Hall Says:
    June 7th, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    I have watched Spirit since her launch and have been fasinated with every discovery she made. So long, sleep well little one.

  75. Fiona Stafford Says:
    June 8th, 2011 at 5:50 am

    I spent many a happy hour looking at the images sent back by Spirit and am sad that she is no longer able to continue. Your letter was a lovely, fitting tribute John. Well done Spirit, and well done to all those who made her possible.

  76. Daniel R Low Says:
    June 8th, 2011 at 8:11 am

    To the teams of People who designed, built, and operated Spirit; Thank You. What a great accomplishment you’ve brought humanity!

    The rover Spirit which you all brought to life for the world is not only a machine. She is part all of you and has become part of all of us.

    Emily Dickinson wrote words appropriate for Spirits passing;

    Death is a Dialogue between
    The Spirit and the Dust.
    “Dissolve” says Death — The Spirit “Sir
    I have another Trust” –

    Death doubts it — Argues from the Ground –
    The Spirit turns away
    Just laying off for evidence
    An Overcoat of Clay.

    “Death is a Dialogue … ” by Emily Dickinson

  77. archil Says:
    June 8th, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    good by spirit

    well done


  78. Bob J Says:
    June 10th, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    I will truly miss this little rover. Congratulations and condolences at the same time to anyone involved in this truly amazing endeavor. I followed it from launch until now and I can’t say enough about the joy and wonder it has brought us. Being able to follow the details of the mission on the web and the stellar upkeep of the site made this a very engaging and captivating experience. A lot of us kept watch and felt a part of the team as the little machine struggled and prevailed despite the many obstacles thrown at it. A wondrous success that has brought us all a little farther along in our growth as a species. Thank you all again.

  79. John Beeston(barepooh) Says:
    June 10th, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    So Spirit is playing dead .
    have you tried swearing at it.
    Always works with the kids.

  80. E. Yeoman Says:
    June 13th, 2011 at 9:07 am

    What’s next? Love these rovers…

  81. Shaheen Qamar Says:
    June 18th, 2011 at 10:33 am

    The job well done and far exceeded everyone’s expectation including rover designers, planners and programmers. Spirit has contributed so much to the planetary exploration enthusiast, theorist and researchers alike that it will take years to comprehend the accumulated data and information.

    The Spirit limped to its final resting place leaving a legacy and tracks for exploration to follow. Its imprints on the martian soil and every milestone it crossed during its aduous journey will remain hallmarks of success and glort to its designers and programmers.

    Salute to you all and rest in peace Spirit for the centuries to come!!

  82. obi one Says:
    June 19th, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    long life to Spirit,…it will return…

  83. jose prieto Says:
    June 22nd, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    …y se convertirá en un Espíritu Puro… en nuestro hermoso planeta rojo. Gracias a todos.

  84. Steve Says:
    June 23rd, 2011 at 4:33 am

    Spirit — the first Martian.

  85. Giorgio Says:
    June 23rd, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Goodbye :-) Have a nice rest looking at the small dot named hearth. I’m sure it’s nicer from there. Peace

  86. Dean Says:
    June 23rd, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    The little machine that could, and could, and could. And Opportunity still does.

  87. Jos Vermeiren Says:
    June 27th, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    It’s one small step for men, but it’s a giant leep for mankind…

    She deserves as much credit as Neil did.

    Way to go Spirit !! You gave us the spirit to move on and to boldly go where no one has gone before !!

    Gonna miss you, but hey, who knows, maybe one day, we’ll hear from you again.

    Hats off for the entire JPL team.

  88. Suresh Intwala Says:
    June 28th, 2011 at 3:53 am

    Goodbye !!!!!!!. Spirit First foot print on mars like Neel Amstrong first foot print on Moon.

    Have a nice sleep spirit…..

  89. Perk Cartel Says:
    June 29th, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    Oh come on, you people! The little ROV isn’t dead, the batteries are flat, two wheels are busted and it’s bogged, that’s all. All we have to do is get another one out there with some tools, new wheels, some array cleaner and batteries and KAZAM! it’ll be as good as new and off again, ready for more.

  90. Kelvin Martin Says:
    July 1st, 2011 at 12:11 am

    Good-bye my dearest Spirit. You were always my favourite of the two, though Opportunity is also dear to me.

    May you rest in peace, it was a great journey and I am honoured to have been part of it, even if it was only to be a witness and fan from your beginning till end.

    You will be remembered.

    Kelvin (S.A.)

  91. Mike Rowson Says:
    July 1st, 2011 at 1:03 am

    Fantastic job Spirit.

  92. Elyse Says:
    July 1st, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Aww, I love those robots! I have followed their story since I was in 4th grade. I’ve done reports on them, and when my school did a “egg drop”, I designed a package for my egg based off the landing gear of the rovers using a net of small balloons, and the egg survived the two story drop in perfect condition! They have an amazing legacy and it makes me proud that they have gone on for so long! I hope the team will continue to use Opportunity till she wears out also. Love you Spirit. We will come for you someday.

  93. Waldo Bezerra de Oliveira Says:
    July 5th, 2011 at 6:11 am

    I followed Spirit (and Opportunity) daily; I am going to miss it. Thank you, all of you for sharing this wonderful mission with us.

  94. James Cayz Says:
    July 5th, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    To all the hardware, software, designers, planners, commanders, and everyone else involved with Spirit from initial design to doing the last ping:

    Thank You!

    Like many others, I’ve always been intrigued by space, and remotely-operated vehicles, and the 3-month mission that turned into several years of sometimes exciting, sometimes boring, but never dull, mission updates, really shows not only what we as Humans (not Americans, or Russians, or …) can build, but also how humans can perserveer in the face of adversity.

    Not only did Spirit put on a Good Show, so did you all! It is that kind of creativeness that assures me that someday we will step foot upon another planet, another starsystem, another galaxy.


  95. Dalton Morris Says:
    July 11th, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Thanks Spirit and the Rover Team,You really did change the way we look at robots or machines.
    Truth is,I study volcanoes on any planet.And I didn’t even know that there were volcanoes on Mars until I heard about Spirit and Opportunity.
    But my questions are,is Spirit still alive,And why did you send Opportunity to Mars when you already had a rover their.
    Thanks Spirit and Opportunity,I really did learn a lot from you.

  96. Lillian Says:
    July 13th, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    So is Spirit still working on Mars even today in July of 2011?

  97. M.Natrayan, Tamil Nadu Says:
    July 21st, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Thank you! I am very much eagar to know about mars in the sky! We have to go a long distance to complete our project! There are so many planets and stars in the sky! Can we do the analysical report very shorly? Not known !!

  98. Naomi Says:
    July 23rd, 2011 at 9:12 am

    I am just an ordinary American grandmother who was living in Florida and was blessed to be able to watch the launches of Spirit & Opportunity! What awe inspiring moments to watch them streak across the Florida sky! I checked on them from time to time and was thrilled that they continued to explore, even though their “life” expectancy was only 3 months. What a great job Spirit did and Opportunity continues to do. Hats off to the JPL team and the excellent work they did and are doing. Perhaps someday, Spirit will awaken or we may go there and fix her, either way, she was a great explorer and will be remembered. Thanks for the adventure and the knowledge!

  99. Alexandra Siy Says:
    July 26th, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Thank you Spirit and NASA for a fabulous adventure! I look forward to riding along with Curiosity on the next great Mars quest! Alexandra Siy, author of CARS ON MARS: Roving the Red Planet

  100. Kevin Tomlinson Says:
    July 26th, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I got a little chill down my spine reading Spirit’s “eulogy” from the team leader. I have followed the journey, discoveries, and difficulties of both rovers through numerous visits to NASA websites and APOD, and can well understand how Spirit can be thought of as more than an assembly of nuts and bolts. Congratulations on a job well done!

  101. Ambar Pandhare Says:
    July 29th, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    i am very very proud of Spirit………..all the data it has given us was valuable and useful for our future missions…….all the hard work and efforts that have been made to make this project successful is commendable…………….i would like to wish Opportunity good luck…..and keep on working till curiosity meets you there………….
    Love You NASA……

  102. Alan Says:
    August 2nd, 2011 at 6:26 am

    We talk about Spirit and Opportunity as if they are alive - and in many ways they are, or were. But in fact they are just bits of metal and wire and solar cells and such. What they really are is a condensation of all the intelligence, ingenuity, inspiration, intellect, passion, enthusiasm, curiousity and spirit of the human beings who worked so long and hard to imagine them, realise them and send them off to another world. A stunning example of what the human race can do if it puts it’s collective mind to something, and is very humbling to be able to look in and be a part of such a fantastic adventure. Too few people around the world appreciate what these rovers, and the other probes that are out there, really mean. Sitting here in an office half a world away I can, at the touch of a few keys, be sitting looking at a planet millions of miles away, looking at wonders I will never be able to see with my own eyes. A great privilege, thank you NASA and JPL, and all the people you represent. Thank you Spirit, and here’s to many more miles for Opportunity.

  103. Doug Gibson Says:
    August 4th, 2011 at 7:30 am

    I am a long-term space explorer vicariously thanks to NASA and JPL. Every day I could make new discoveries and see new sites exploring with my keyboard. Carl sagan always said that societies in which science is shared are healthy. We are indebted to the Rover team and to “Spirit” and “Opportunity”. Later in the year, let’s see what “Curiosity ” can do. Thanks to you all.

  104. Deng Vergara Says:
    August 4th, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    To the Spirit team, congratulations for a job well done. Truly, Spirit has surpassed more than what was expected of her and she has given us so much not only valuable information about Mars but also inspiration to push to the limits and go beyond our expectations.
    To Spirit, not only will the images live on but your spirit as well!

  105. S. Smith Says:
    August 10th, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    I think it’s anthropromorphism (sp?) when we give human characteristics to something other than humans but this letter made me cry over the loss of Spirit. I followed her journey for years and rejoiced at her long life. Our Space Program will live on even though the current space shuttle program has ended and we need to encourage our children to look towards space as a great adventure as we strive to “go boldly” (the original “to boldly go” is a split infinitive I refuse to use) into the future. I hope that one day Spirit comes back to earth for scientific testing. What made her last so long? Good engineering and perhaps just a little bit of magic? This eternal optimist will keep reading JPL and NASA bulletins and news. Share your passion for space expoloration with others please!

  106. Andy Says:
    August 13th, 2011 at 1:16 am

    I’m choked. I’ve followed these bold little rovers from the day they were launched and am, to my surpise, quite emotional at the loss of Spirit.
    Every single person involved with this project should be proud of what they, as a team, have achieved. The whole program is so much more than the sum of its’ parts.
    I just don’t have adequate superlatives to express my admiration for you all, and of course those plucky little robots Spirit and Opportunity.

  107. Steve Hall Says:
    August 15th, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    I wonder if he will DREAM ?

  108. Bruce Kloc Says:
    August 22nd, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    What great fun it’s been keeping weekly tabs on the rovers. Many of the photos have been used for my laptop’s screen saver background, prompting questions from my work colleagues about what each was. With Opportunity now at Victoria, and a new rover to launch later this year, there’ll be many new discoveries that will capture our imagination. Thank you NASA and JPL for sharing everything with us common folk. To all who bemoan the end of the shuttle and believe that our space program is headed towards oblivion, I suggest you add at least the Cassini, Juno and New Horizons sites to your “favorites” .

  109. Marco Says:
    August 28th, 2011 at 3:58 pm


    Sleep well little rover.. Slaap zacht…

    ……..One day we will bring you back to Earth….

  110. Mad Max Says:
    September 2nd, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Spirit ….. a story loved, a spirit that cannot die

    Australia Salutes `

  111. Mars Rover Discovers Rock With Zinc, NASA Overjoyed | Alkaon Network Says:
    September 2nd, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    [...] discovery comes just months after NASA said goodbye to Spirit, Opportunity’s identical rover counterpart. Spirit went silent after a sand trap last [...]

  112. Nicholas Bartell Says:
    September 6th, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    impulse power neat right

    Congress likes the info!

  113. skip Says:
    September 7th, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Thanks John for sharing your touching letter with the world. I’m grateful. I also thank God my father and Jesus my savior for giving us people like you and the people who engineered Spirit and Opportunity,well done ! As a former tv technician,how often I wish I could go there myself and not only see the awesome beauty of mars itself,but maybe just maybe,to get Spirit working one more time. Thanks!

  114. LIFE ON MARS: The Truth! – This weblog is for sounding DIVINE TRUTH in the ears of the dead! Says:
    September 13th, 2011 at 3:18 am

    [...] discovery comes just months after NASA said goodbye to Spirit, Opportunity’s identical rover counterpart. Spirit went silent after a sand trap last [...]

  115. naprawa laptopów lublin Says:
    September 21st, 2011 at 9:31 am

    I learned about this internet site via Google two days ago and that I am certainly enjoying all the statistics being shared appropriately! Many thanks again!

  116. caleb Says:
    October 18th, 2011 at 7:27 am

    i lov mars

  117. Dee Says:
    November 16th, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    I’ve watched since day one. What a trip it’s been. And what a trooper Spirit has been. It’s been like watching a child grow up and then leave home. This has been some amazing work you guys have accomplished. Totally amazing. Who would have thought it would last this long? Thanks to all of you and most of all, thank you Spirit for your contributions to mankind. Hope you can come home to rest one day.

  118. Peter Says:
    December 8th, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Congratulations to the teams who designed, flew and operated Spirit. It is sad when our remote sensors come to the end of their life but at least you have the satisfaction of knowing that they have greatly exceeded their goals and we are much more knowledgeable about our near neighbour planet. Thank you for making this information so freely available.

  119. Richard Noh Says:
    December 29th, 2011 at 1:58 am

    What an incredible journey the Mars Rover has had. I remember watching the news and hearing of it’s successes. RIP and thank you for your service.

  120. VinDC Says:
    February 6th, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    I was in denial. I didn’t want to come back to this site for fear of a message like this. I feared it was the little rover that had the wheel problems and a looming winter. In my mind, the fearless rovers were forever exploring. I was told today that Spirit stopped communication with NASA. Spirit was her name personified.

  121. The Little Rovers That Could | The Unified Republic of Stars Says:
    February 9th, 2012 at 8:02 am

    [...] She also returned over 124 thousand images of Mars to study. But what did she discover? From the press release announcing her “death”: This is a rover that faced continuous challenges and had to [...]

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