SPIDER was released from her balloon at 5:55 am local time today (11:55 EST Saturday, January 17), and parachuted gracefully (we think) to earth. She took a pretty weird tour of the continent. The winds didn’t act exactly as we expected, and we went very slowly along for most of the time. Since our cryogens (the fluids that keep SPIDER cold and operating properly) ran out yesterday afternoon, and the winds would have only pushed us further north, we cut her down. SPIDER’s final landing place appears to be about 70 kilometers from some small bases with landing strips, which might be used for recovery of the data drives and other small parts.
With recovery the last remaining piece of the campaign, much of the crew headed north yesterday. Only six of us remain, and we will all be glad to no longer be on shifts watching for our little data packets. Hopefully we can get a quick recovery done and head north ourselves, but we’re not sure when that will be yet.