The Rover Spirit is a robotic rover. It is often referred to as Spirit or MER-A (Mars Exploration Rover –A) or MER-2. It was one of the two rovers NASA operated. The second rover that landed three weeks on Mars after the Spirit is called Opportunity or MER-B. Opportunity was regarded as Spirit’s twin. Spirit’s dimensions were 1.5 meters by 2.3 meters by 1.6 meters, and its rover dry weight was 185 kilograms. The Spirit is a solar-powered robot with six wheels, to aid it to move in rough terrains. Moreover, each of the six wheels was fitted with its own motor. The rover was launched to Mars in 2003. The Spirit was fitted with the following scientific gadgets:
- Hazard Avoidance Cameras (Hazcams)
- Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS)
- Magnet arrays
- Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT)
- Panoramic camera (Pancam)
- Miniature Thermal Emission Spectrometer (Mini-TES)
- Microscopic Imager (MI)
- Navigation Cameras (Navcams)
- Mossbauer Spectrometer
Outlined Objectives of the Spirit Rover Mars Mission
The purpose of the Spirit Rover mission to Mars was to:
- Sample a range of soils and rocks that were formed by processes such as sedimentary cementation, precipitation, hydrothermal activity and evaporation.
- Evaluate the environments to establish whether it was favorable for habitation.
- Categorize coarseness of soils and rocks and also find out the processes that formed them.
- To establish ecological settings that were in place when there was liquid water by looking for geological indications.
- Finding out the structure and distribution of soils, minerals and rocks around the landing site of Spirit.
- Detect iron-containing minerals. It will also find and count specific minerals that were either made by water or comprise water.
- It will standardize findings given by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. It will aid in knowing the usefulness and precision of apparatuses that gauged the orbit from Martian geology.
- It will also help in finding out geological process that has helped inspire chemistry as well as form local terrain.
The journey and discoveries made by Spirit Rover in Mars
Notably, Spirit outlived her 90-days scheduled mission. The spacecraft landed in Gusev Crater, and immediately the airbags flattened and retracted. In addition, the petals unfastened, and it deployed its solar arrays. Spirit surveyed Gusev Crater which was its landing site. It took scientific measurements and sent out images to Earth though it had lost one of its wheels. MER-A unearthed that long-ago Mars was wetter than it is now. This discovery assisted the scientist in their understanding of Martian wind. In 2009, Spirit was stuck in a pocket of soft sand. The scientists on Earth tried their best to remove Spirit from the soft sand, but their efforts failed. During this time, Spirit continued to transmit its data to Earth. The scientists were unable to direct the solar panels towards power for it to survive winter. Sadly, the last transmission sent to Earth by the rover was in 2010.NASA terminated the rover’s mission on the 25th of May 2011. MER-A traveled 7.73 km for its duration that lasted well over six years.