NASA scientists on Friday said data sent by the rover was captured by one of the antennas of the international Deep Space Network near Madrid, Spain at 1234 GMT.

The communications came about 90 minutes after the start of the Martian day at a transmission speed of 10 bits per second, which is considered very weak.

The brief revival came after scientists attempted in vain to establish contact with the rover throughout Thursday.

Mystery snag

Specialists first noticed trouble with the rover when communications were interrupted on Wednesday, the rover's 19th day on the surface of the red planet.

Scientists first blamed the breakdown on a storm raging over Australia. But they later conceded the problem could be more serious and crippling in nature.

NASA engineers are to send Spirit several commands in the coming hours hoping to get some information about its condition and determine the source of its communication trouble.