Mars Rover "Spirit"

Aug 4, 2020

With the launch of NASA's Perseverance in the news last week, we thought you might be interested in learning more about NASA's previous Mars explorer missions and the rover Spirit.

Spirit was one of two rovers launched in 2003 to explore Mars and search for signs of past life, Spirit far outlasted her planned 90-day mission. Among her myriad discoveries, Spirit found evidence that Mars was once much wetter than it is today and helped scientists better understand the Martian wind.

Two Mars Exploration Rovers named Spirit & Opportunity landed on the red planet in January 2004 as the robotic hands and eyes of scientists back on Earth. Their mission was to search for evidence that water once existed on Mars. Spirit landed near Gusev crater and traveled 4.8 miles; making many new scientific discoveries that indicate Mars was once wetter and hotter. 5 years later, Spirit was stuck in loose soil in May, 2009 and despite repeated tries, could not free itself. Communication was lost in February 2010.

In May 2009, the rover became embedded in soft soil at a site called "Troy" with only five working wheels to aid in the rescue effort. After months of testing and carefully planned maneuvers, NASA ended efforts to free the rover and eventually ended the mission on May 25, 2011.

The Spirit carried the following Scientific Instrument(s):

  • Panoramic camera (Pancam)
  • Microscopic Imager (MI)
  • Miniature Thermal Emission Spectrometer (Mini-TES)
  • Mossbauer Spectrometer (MB)
  • Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS)
  • Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT)
  • Magnet arrays
  • Hazard Avoidance Cameras (Hazcams)
  • Navigation Cameras (Navcams)

View our specially commissioned replica of the Spirit Rover at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum. Click here to plan your visit and purchase tickets or you can buy tickets at the main Aviation Museum entrance.

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