After being launched some ten years ago and after returning 240 000 images of Mars, it appears the spacecraft come to an end of its career.

The spacecraft hasn't made contact with the Earth since the 2nd of November, attempts to contact it have failed.

The spacecraft being assembled:

Mars Global Surveyor

"Realistically, we have run through the most likely possibilities for re-establishing communication, and we are facing the likelihood that the amazing flow of scientific observations from Mars Global Surveyor is over," said Fuk Li, Mars Exploration Program manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "We are not giving up hope, though."

Efforts to regain contact with the spacecraft and determine what has happened to it will continue. NASA's newest Mars spacecraft, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, pointed its cameras toward Mars Global Surveyor on Monday. "We have looked for Mars Global Surveyor with the star tracker, the context camera and the high-resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter," said Doug McCuistion, Mars Exploration Program director at NASA Headquarters. "Preliminary analysis of the images did not show any definitive sightings of a spacecraft."

The next possibility for learning more about Mars Global Surveyor's status is a plan to send it a command to use a transmitter that could be heard by one of NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers later this week.

An example of one of the spacecraft's images it returned to the Earth, the Mars Global Surveyor proved conclusively that Mars once had liquid freely flowing over its surface:

An example of just one of the pictures the spacecraft sent back to Earth

"It is an extraordinary machine that has done things the designers never envisioned despite a broken wing, a failed gyro and a worn-out reaction wheel. The builders and operating staff can be proud of their legacy of scientific discoveries and key support for subsequent missions," said Tom Thorpe, project manager for Mars Global Surveyor at JPL.

The Mars Global Surveyor is just one of those spacecraft that just seems to keep on going, despite being succeeded by better spacecraft it kept on returning data. It’s always sad to see a spacecraft come to the end, like the MGS appears to have done. Especially one that smacked Hoagland in the mouth so hard.

The face on Mars:

The "Face" on Mars