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Mars NASA Space

Mars Rover "Spirit" In Danger 222

Posted by kdawson
from the my-kingdom-for-a-sunbeam dept.
Riding with Robots writes "Just days after announcing that the Mars Phoenix Lander has met its icy demise, NASA reports that a dust storm has left the rover Spirit on the edge of power failure. During one recent Martian day, the robotic geologist's solar array produced only 89 watt hours of energy, the lowest output by either rover in their nearly five years on Mars. Mission managers are taking steps to protect the hardy, battle-worn spacecraft, but the agency describes Spirit's status as 'vulnerable.'"
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Mars Rover "Spirit" In Danger

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  • by danaris (525051) <danarisNO@SPAMmac.com> on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @01:53PM (#25735775) Homepage

    It would be very sad to see Spirit run out of power, but honestly, both the rovers have performed so far beyond their original expectations, it's astounding. I seem to recall they were originally meant for something like a two-month mission...four years ago.

    So if we do lose Spirit soon, for my part, I think we can be satisfied with what it's already accomplished.

    Dan Aris

  • Re:Hrm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Steauengeglase (512315) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @01:55PM (#25735803)

    -er calling, not call and it is more like saying my car is a boat because it traveled across the ocean on a freighter.

  • Anonymous Coward (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @01:58PM (#25735867)

    Perhaps they should have included a 'solar cell wipper assembly' (Patent Pending) to wipe the dust off???

  • by Java Commando (726093) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @02:03PM (#25735957)

    Indeed, Spirit can legitimately unfurl a "Mission Accomplished" banner, now.

    And have no regrets about it.

  • Re:Options (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @02:28PM (#25736323)

    . An 89 watt-hour high-speed dash to blow the dust off. By my calculations they should be able to go 6 feet at 4 mph so ok forget that.

    2. Launch a nuclear powered feather dusting support rover. No that's stupid.

    3. Fire a kazillajoule laser at Mars to energize the solar panels. This is actually the least worst idea so far which is depressing.

    4. Spend the remaining energy teaching the rover to do the Hammer Dance with it's eight independently swiveling wheels. If you got to go down, go down doing the Hammer Dance that's what I always say which is maybe why nobody sits with me in the cafeteria.

    Idea # 4 would probably generate enough public support to secure an increase in the mars program budget, perhaps enough to launch another rover.

    For that matter, why not do idea # 4, then use the money made to pay for # 2. # 4 may even have the same effect as #1. Or you could just get the Pentagon to develop # 3 by claiming it'll fry terrorists, and then have them lend it to NASA for the weekend (hurry up though, Bush is almost out of office and stupid-anti-terrorism-ideas will soon be starved for cash).

  • Re:Winter? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by plague3106 (71849) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @02:34PM (#25736459)

    If the solar panels get enoug sunlight, does anyone know if it's possible the rovers will "reboot?"

  • by Idiomatick (976696) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @02:58PM (#25736835)

    Adds an ending for the movie?

  • by compact_support (968176) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @03:26PM (#25737287)
    During a day, solar panels don't produce any watts of energy. Watts are a compound unit, specifically joules per second. Joules are a measurement of energy, and what would be produced in a a time period. Watts represent the instantaneous rate of power generation.
  • by MarcQuadra (129430) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @04:08PM (#25737893)

    Or they could have thrown the power budget out the window and used a nuclear-decay power source, like a lot of satellites do.

    Now that -power availability- seems to be the biggest issue with these landers, maybe we can build one with a power source that provides years of solid performance instead of solar panels.

    The devices wouldn't even be radioactive by the Mars gets crowded anyway.

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