NASA's Spirit rover communicated with ground controllers early this morning, sending back some data and giving hope that normal operations might resume.
The rover had gone mostly silent Wednesday, returning only beeps to acknowledge it was alive. For unknown reasons, Spirit could not transmit data.
NASA officials said in a statement this morning they had received a signal at the agency's Deep Space Network antenna complex near Madrid, Spain at 7:34 a.m. ET.
Spirit communicated for 10 minutes initially and then later for 20 minutes more, for a total of a half-hour of data transmission.
The transmissions arrived during 90-minute window of opportunity after the rover woke in the Martian morning. Data was transmitted at a rate of either 10 bits per second or 120 -- two separate NASA statements give differing numbers. Officials did not indicate whether the rate was normal or how optimistic they are based on the transmissions.
"The spacecraft sent limted data in a proper response to a ground command, and we're planning for commanding further communication sessions later today," said Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager Pete Theisinger at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
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