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Mars rover Spirit still running, but only in place

Six years into its 90-day mission, robot is stuck for good

4:55pm, January 26, 2010

After six years on the red planet and nine months stuck in a sand pit, the driving days are officially over for the Mars rover Spirit, NASA announced in a teleconference January 26.

“We do not believe that [Spirit] is extractable,” said Doug McCuistion of NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., director of the Mars Exploration Program. “The mobility of this rover is complete.”

The robotic geologist has been roving the planet since 2004, but slid into a sand pit in April 2009. A team of engineers spent the next six months testing strategies to free the rover, using a duplicate rover in a sandbox at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, Calif. Spirit began spinning its wheels again in

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