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Spirit parked for the winter
Posted: Sun, Feb 14, 2010, 1:45 PM ET (1845 GMT)
Mars Exploration Rover (NASA/JPL) NASA's Mars rover Spirit has reached its final parking position on the Martian surface prior to the upcoming winter season and may soon go into hibernation. Rover controllers had hoped to reposition the rover, stuck since last year in a patch of sandy soil, into an orientation where the solar panels faced the Sun. However, controllers were forced to leave the rover an in unfavorable orientation that will reduce the amount of power the rover's panels can generate during the winter. As a result, mission engineers expect that the rover will be out of contact with the Earth for several months, starting within a few weeks, as it conserves what power it can produce. NASA had tried for several months to free the rover from its current location but recently acknowledged that it was likely the rover would be stuck there for the remainder of its mission.
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