Paper models, photos and musings of a Paper Kosmonaut

24 March 2013

MER-A Spirit - second part: Troy 1/40

It only comes naturally, to have this follow-up after what I just have finished. I made the beginning of Spirit's journey with the launch of the Delta II that carried her to Mars in 2003. It seems only fitting now to show her end. Spirit's final resting place is where she had to spend her last winter: in the Columbia Hills, in a sand pit where she couldn't get out any more.
(the people at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, who coordinate the rovers on Mars, refer to Spirit (and her still active twin Opportunity as "she", so I do too.)

A computer generated picture of Spirit in the Columbia Hills on Mars. image: ©NASA

After a while, Spirit was getting troubles with her front wheel, it became harder and harder to let it run. In the end it just got stuck and forward movement was out of the question. JPL decided to let Spirit roll backwards, and this way, dragging her limp wheel behind her, Spirit continued her journey to Columbia Hills. Her stuck wheel even got her a remarkable discovery when it scraped the surface layer off and revealed a white under layer, which consisted of silica rich dust, which could be a clue to life on Mars long ago.
However, Spirit still did what she was made for and drove further. She proceeded climbing the hills, something she was never made for but apparently had no problems with. That was in 2006.

Unfortunately, while exploring the Columbia Hills, in 2009 she got stuck in a bowl of sand which was so loose it almost had no cohesive power and her wheels were whirring around without getting grip. After almost a year of trying to get Spirit out of this sand, it became clear she was stuck for good. Her drivers called the place where she got stuck "Troy". From there they tried to do as much research as possible before the winter started. With the winter there, Spirit went into hibernation to save energy and to be awoken in spring.

But spring never came for Spirit. The winter was cold and harsh. She froze and when in the spring JPL tried countlessly to contact her, she didn't answer. After only 7,7 kilometres but over six years, much more than the 90 days and 1 KM radius NASA officially had estimated,  the little rover slept for good and was given a heartfelt goodbye.

The Columbia Hills, named after the perished crew of the shuttle of the same name, seen from where Spirit started out, her landing base platform.  image ©NASA

Okay I am getting all misty here again, let's just start talking about the building of the diorama, shall we?

More after the jump.

I started out with the diorama frame. It is a 15x15 cm photo frame, in which I made a cardboard construction which I am going to fill with gypsum. The four outer walls will be removed when the gypsum has dried.

In the centre there will be a concave space which will be filled with red sand, which also will be glued to the outer rims of the "bowl".
pouring will occur some time later, first up now is Spirit herself. I reduced the kit I am going to use to 50%, making it about 1:40. the kit itself is a reworking by Ton Noteboom of a kit made by Erik te Groen. I took the liberty to make some extra modifications myself, too: I recoloured the solar panel surface a little. More on that next time.

That's it for now,
thanks for watching!
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