NASA's Mars rover prepares to escape the worst trouble of its life.
- By Tony Reichhardt
- AirSpaceMag.com, November 09, 2009
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Grant still thinks Spirit will get there. But if it doesn’t, the scientists will undoubtedly make whatever observations they can, for as long as they can, even if the rover never moves again. Callas figures the rover can make it through one more winter before it will need to reorient its solar panels and recharge its batteries.
In dollar terms, Spirit and Opportunity cost just under $1 billion to design, build, launch, and operate for six years. But as the only working robots on Mars, their actual worth goes far beyond that. In fact, they may be the most valuable machines in the solar system right now—which is why the JPL operators, when they finally start to free the rover, will take their time.