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Mars NASA Space Science Technology

Mars Rover Opportunity Set To Roll Into Its Ultimate Crater 48

Posted by Soulskill
from the opportunity-knocks-on-endeavour's-door dept.
coondoggie writes "NASA's Mars rover Opportunity will likely peer over the rim of its ultimate destination this week, the huge Endeavour crater. According to a NASA post late last week, Opportunity was only about 120 meters from 'Spirit Point,' the first landfall on the rim of Endeavour crater."
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Mars Rover Opportunity Set To Roll Into Its Ultimate Crater

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  • by Tackhead (54550) on Monday August 08, 2011 @03:20PM (#37025774)
    K'breel, speaker for the Council, emphasized that preparations for the final battle were complete.

    "Citizens, the last of the two mechanical invaders that first touched down on our red soil, has reached its ultimate destination. Intelligence reports from the blue world confirm that the alien fiend will likely peer over the rim of its ultimate destination this week, the huge End-Devaur crater."

    K'Breel confirmed that the source of this intelligence leak was a communications node of the blue world's so-called "Planetary Society" [planetary.org] has been neutralized. Its data flows as sluggishly as the brine that oozes forth from beneath the summer soil. Soon, the invading force whose activities it purports to document, shall be neutralized along with it! ONWARD TO VICTORY!

    When a junior reporter speculated that the reason for the temporary downtime of the communications node might be related to a surge of network traffic from blue-worlders whose only interest was peaceful exploration, K'Breel had the junior reporter's gelsacs effectively slashed .

    • by sconeu (64226)

      Thank you. We always hunger for the words of the mighty K'Breel!!!!

      • I must have missed the memo, who is K'Breel? Google provides many amusing links, none of theme explanatory though :-)

        • by sconeu (64226)

          Did you even read the GP?

          For years, whenever there's a Mars story, Tackhead has been posting these updates from the Council on Mars, ruled by K'Breel.

          • I read it, but my perfunctory google search showed me numerous authors. Thanks for the corrective clue stick.

  • by graveyhead (210996) <`ten.scinorthctelf' `ta' `hctelf'> on Monday August 08, 2011 @03:21PM (#37025792)

    Well, our spirit is gone but at least we've got some opportunity left! :-)

  • Translation (Score:2, Flamebait)

    We just finished building the Endeavor crater movie set in Area 51 for all you gullible suckers to ooh and aaah at. NASA, you haven't fooled ME!

  • They should have licensed the rover to Burger King; we could be instead be seeing a Whopper-tunity rising over the crater (likely pulling The King on a snowboard or some such thing) and claiming Mars for the right to Have It Your Way.
  • According to the wiki page Opportunity has been on this road trip since aug 2008... Thats a good 3 years now.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endeavour_(crater) [wikipedia.org]

  • by tp1024 (2409684) on Monday August 08, 2011 @04:12PM (#37026410)
    Otherwise, they'd keep building them.

    Those rovers are easily the most successful probes on a planetary surface ever. And this has been clear for years now. When you do something that turns out to be wildly successful, the most reasonable reaction that people have is to do it again. But not NASA. NASA could have build, launched and operated at least ten or twenty duplicates of Spirit and Opportunity for the price of its current "Curiosity" rover (some $2,300,000,000) that may or may not work.

    What happened to the good old scientific practice of repeating your measurements and assuring your hypothesis? NASA could have spread new landing sites all over Mars and could even have gone so far as trading the risk of losing a few rovers to unfavorable terrain for the chance to do exploration of scientifically more interesting landing sites, that are more than flat deserts with the occasional crater.

    Quantity is a quality all of its own that you must not underestimate.
    • by kamapuaa (555446)

      Right! Instead of doing new experiments, scientists should just do the same thing over and over and over. They can save a lot of money that way!

      • Your romantic Hollywood picture of science notwithstanding, science is for the most part about doing the same things over and over again under only slightly differing circumstances. It may not be spectacular. - But imaging what we would know if all of earths geology came from two surveys conducted somewhere in the North German plains and the US middle west prairie. Right: nothing much.
        • by kamapuaa (555446)

          Oh totally! That is an excellent comparison, since basically everything we know about Martian geology comes from the Opportunity and the Spirit! They have been the backbone that has given mankind untold amounts of information about the planet! They were in no way kept operating mostly because they gave NASA good publicity! NASA never planned to take them offline but reneged because of a furor given by non-scientists! I'm not being sarcastic, I just can't help ending my sentences with exclamation points

          • by adri (173121)

            But it does beg the question - once you've got a working design and engineering, operations, management, etc teams with lots of experience, does the total cost per mission drop when you start doing it in bulk?

            Ie, once you've got a better idea of the mission lifespan, and yes assuming that the "getting it to mars" costs aren't coming down soon(ish), why not run 10 of them in parallel, on an "average" 5 year lifespan for each?

            I'm sure there's something obvious missing from this, so someone please fill me in.

            • by tomhudson (43916)
              Or run 1,000 of them on the lunar surface (a lot closer, a lot cheaper), charging people to operate them along their designated mission profiles.

              It could be like a big online game, with a leaderboard, credits for school, etc. Self-supporting, it would not only explore a lot of the lunar surface, but give preparation for repeating the whole thing with Mars a few years later.

      • by bhcompy (1877290)
        Like going to the Moon again to check out different things.. Oh wait, it was the Apollo Program. There is no reason they couldn't save costs and send the same design to different parts of Mars to explore the various locales.
      • Mars is huge, compared to what the rovers are covering.

        They could put a hundred identical rovers up there, and they'd all be finding different things, and the project would get some cost savings on the design side.

        Of course, the main cost isn't in the design side, but in the heavy lift and ongoing operations.

        • by tp1024 (2409684)
          Quite the contrary. Getting stuff to Mars is cheap - about 10% of the project cost in those NASA projects. Ongoing operations are on a similar order of magnitude. Design is the most important part of the cost, hardware cost is quite neglible.

          This is quite unlike the japanese JAXA - where launch costs can make up 50% of the mission. But the Japanese, too, only send single missions and pay for it by having unreliable hardware (although part of this may be, because their missions tends to be technologically
          • by Anonymous Coward

            JAXA missions are ambitious BECAUSE they have low budgets. They don't have the money to do things safely--namely, test out new technology over multiple missions--so they have to put multiple new technologies on a single vessel (and compound risks of failure) in order to have state of art designs.

            The Hayabusa asteroid probe, for example, was first and foremost an engineering testbed for ion engines, but also of spacebound lithium-ion batteries, autonomous control of a space probe to orbit around an asteroid,

      • by Anonymous Coward

        There's not a lot of other spots to send these rovers, but there are a lot of interesting places to go.

        Mercury is both too hot and too cold depending on exact position.
        Venus is too hot and has a corrosive atmosphere.
        Asteroids are too rough.
        The Jovian system has too much radiation (maybe a good quantity of antimatter too).
        We've already been to our moon (although it'd allow for near real-time experimentation).
        Most other moons are too far away to use solar power.
        Titan is too cold, but *very* interesting due to

    • It's the same as Firefox developers. They don't want to make a solid product, they want to make something new. Why? Because it's fun. Screw what the rest of us think.
    • I think you are minimizing the impact of even one failed mission. In a government funding environment where even the military budget and Social Security are no longer sacrosanct, you can't afford any negative publicity when you are going hat in hand to your funders. The thinking public understands the risk, but thinking people don't control the purse strings -- politicians do.
    • by tokul (682258)

      Otherwise, they'd keep building them.

      And don't advance any further. How many times you do same stuff without getting bored.

      They don't need 1000 rovers and 1000 pieces of space junk on Mars. Goal was to put two pieces of scientific equipment on Mars, make sure that it survives for 90 days and get some research data from there.

      What happened to the good old scientific practice of repeating your measurements and assuring your hypothesis?

      Budget cuts

      • by tp1024 (2409684)
        Then I've got a grand idea for Ferrari. Stop building cars, only build prototypes - because only prototypes are any advance at all and who cares about actually driving a car? Once a prototype is finished it shouldn't be allowed to build another of that kind to maximize advancement in automobiles. I'm sure like that Ferrari would have been long past the flying car by now. (Not.)
    • Those rovers are easily the most successful probes on a planetary surface ever. And this has been clear for years now. When you do something that turns out to be wildly successful, the most reasonable reaction that people have is to do it again.

      The most reasonable reaction is to do it again, only if you want to do the same thing again. Otherwise, not so much.

      But not NASA. NASA could have build, launched and operated at least ten or twenty duplicates of Spirit and Opportunity for the price of its cu

  • Opportunity will get JPL on its toes until then.
  • by MagicM (85041) on Monday August 08, 2011 @04:16PM (#37026454)

    Opportunity's last transmission:

    Wheeeeeeeee!!!

  • The US government is going to roll something into a crater? Is this Slashdot or the finance pages?

  • I still remember the best joke seen on /. [slashdot.org] back when there was a software problem reported on Spirit during the flight to Mars, there was some issue related to flash memory, so that's what comes to mind every time: The Spirit is willing but the flash is weak :)

    • No, the best joke on /. was when Spirit got stuck in the sand trap and someone suggested that it's designation be changed from Rover to Spot.

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