Spirit rover is out of intensive care, but the scrappy rover is still in critical condition. Engineers hope her energy will continue to improve.


I'm JPL Mars rover driver Scott Maxwell, and this is a Mars rover update.

The MER operations team heaved a collective sigh of relief as we heard from Spirit right on schedule this week, despite a dangerous Martian dust storm that darkened the skies above her location. This dramatic series of images taken by Spirit over a ten-sol period shows the sun being nearly blotted out by the storm, then slowly re-emerging.

The storm reduced the energy generated by Spirit's solar panels to an all-time low of only 89 watt-hours. That's about what it takes to run an ordinary kitchen light bulb for only an hour and a half. As a result, the team instructed Spirit to take emergency measures--not to burn costly energy communicating with Earth, but instead take every available step to reduce energy and ride out the storm.

The strategy worked great. Spirit is in much better shape now. Her energy level has doubled from its all time low, although it's still very low. So she's still in intensive care, but she's out of critical condition. We hope that her energy level will continue to improve over the next few days, and the storm continues to abate, and we'll hear from her again soon.

Meanwhile on the other side of Mars, Spirit's twin sister, Opportunity, is far away from this storm. It's rolling happily along under sunny Martian skies, and making excellent progress toward her next goal, Endeavour Crater.

I'm Scott Maxwell, and this has been a Mars rover update.
View all Videos