NASA officials remember Mars rover Spirit

By the Associated Press | July 19, 2011 | 7:59 PM EDT

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — The legacy of the Mars rover Spirit has been remembered by the team responsible for the workhorse explorer.

Scientists and engineers gathered Tuesday at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California to pay tribute to the durable rover.

Spirit and its twin, Opportunity, landed on Mars in 2004 for what was supposed to be a three-month mission. Both survived longer than expected and uncovered geologic evidence that the red planet was once warmer and wet.

Spirit operated on the surface for six years. In May, NASA declared Spirit dead after it had not responded to commands for more than a year.

Opportunity remains active and is nearing the rim of a huge crater.