Martian Cold Forces Rover Spirit to Take a Day Off

By  | 

It's a lot cooler in the shade, even on Mars. That's what NASA scientists found when the shadow of the lollipop-shaped mast on its rover Spirit fell across the craft's high-gain antenna.

The extreme cold in the shadow kept the antenna's motors from moving it into position to receive commands from Earth. NASA compared it to starting your car on a cold day, but scientists think the problem's already fixed. They just have to wait for sunup again on Mars, which is tonight, Earth time.

The plans are for Spirit to cover as much as 83 feet in the coming workday, breaking the record of 70 feet that it just set.

Spirit's twin, Opportunity, continues to scoot along a rock formation halfway around the planet, taking pictures of finely layered rocks.