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Space & Planetary Science

JPL Screws Up Spirit Shutdown Announcement

By Keith Cowing
May 24, 2011
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NASA to abandon trapped rover Spirit, AP
“The space agency tried every trick to listen for Spirit to no avail. Project manager John Callas of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said the last commands will be sent up Wednesday. Though orbiting spacecraft will continue to listen through the end of May, chances are slim that Spirit willrespond. “Spirit went into a deep sleep,” said Callas, who said the plucky rover will be remembered for demystifying Mars to themasses.”
Keith’s 5:45 pm EDT note: Funny how JPL PAO makes its people available to respond on the record to one reporter – but does not bother to offer the same access to other folks in the media … then again …
Keith’s 5:55 pm EDT update: I just got a media advisory from JPL PAO with just 5 minutes advanced notice for a 6 p, EDT telecon. When I called the number to get the media telecon number to actually listen in – it did not get answered. I’ll try again. Why not just put this on NASA news audio? Or better yet: plan ahead so that people can have reasonable advanced notice.
Keith’s 6:01 pm EDT update: Finally got through – to save other media folks the effort its 877-546-1568 password is “spirit”.
Keith’s 6:22 pm EDT update: John Callas could not explain why he chose to make an announcement via AP without consulting NASA HQ or using traditional media release procedures. JPL PAO tried to play down their screw up – and why they had no materials online with regard to this decision. When asked why there was not an official announcement – as is almost always the case at NASA – no one would give a crisp answer. Dave Lavery was then asked if this is the official announcement and he said “Yes”. Callas tried to excuse all of this by saying that “everyone knew this was coming”. But earlier he said that the original plan was to try and contact Spirit once a week and that they realized recently that probability of success was practically zero – and would use precious assets. So they decided to put that process to a halt ahead of schedule.

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.