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Mars Space NASA

Mars Rover Opportunity Turns 8 151

Posted by Soulskill
from the its-doing-science-and-its-still-alive dept.
New submitter el borak writes "Never mind all the talk about the revival of the American auto industry. What may be the greatest car the U.S. has ever built is currently a tidy 78 million miles (125m km) away from this world — resting on the edge of Endeavour crater in the southern hemisphere of Mars. It was on January 25, 2004 that the rover Opportunity bounced down on Mars for a mission designed to last a minimum of three months and a maximum of just a year or two."
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Mars Rover Opportunity Turns 8

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  • Great engineering! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Friday January 27, 2012 @03:04PM (#38843173) Homepage Journal

    Can you remember the last piece of technology hardware you had which outlived its warranty? For me, most of that was stuff made in the 80's.

    Considerable accomplishment, designing, accumulating all the bits, assembling it, putting it in a rocket, flying it to Mars, landing it and having it muck about in a place without AAA Roadside Service. Well done.

  • by twotacocombo (1529393) on Friday January 27, 2012 @03:10PM (#38843279)

    Can you remember the last piece of technology hardware you had which outlived its warranty?.

    Pretty much everything I own, seeing as how most warranty terms are a year at best. No company in its right mind would design a product that would NOT make it past its warranty expiration.

  • Re:It's not a car. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by taiwanjohn (103839) on Friday January 27, 2012 @03:12PM (#38843295)

    Except for freight cars, of course. "Car" is just a short version of "carriage."

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday January 27, 2012 @03:20PM (#38843443) Homepage Journal

    Can you remember the last piece of technology hardware you had which outlived its warranty?.

    Pretty much everything I own, seeing as how most warranty terms are a year at best. No company in its right mind would design a product that would NOT make it past its warranty expiration.

    You don't read the same reviews I do, on Amazon ... "This thing was DOA out of the box ..." "This lasted 30 days and then died ..." etc.

    Some stuff holds up well (which I theorize is inversely proportional to how much I use/depend upon) While I experience the same as these unhappy reviewers.

    After the learning experiences of Hubble and the failed ("inches? I thought you mean't Centimetres!") Mars Climate Orbiter, you can expect things are held to a very high standard - because failure is so very, very expensive.

    Still, we had a visitor to our local Astronomy club explain the one oversight which may ultimately doom Opportunity - dust build up on the Solar Panels. Next probe will probably have a little robotic arm and brush to sweep itself off now and then.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 27, 2012 @03:24PM (#38843503)

    The impressive aspect is not that it has operated for 8 years, or that it is "beyond its warranty" (which is a misnomer - there was no warranty). What is impressive is that it has operated in a harsh environment for 8 years WITH ZERO MAINTENANCE! None. No one has touched the device in over 8 years now. And it has continued to operate, by radio, despite dust, vibration, heat, cold and radiation beyond what most Earth-bound devices ever experience.

    Sure, my car has well over 100K miles on it and is over 12 years old. But it is only operating because I am performing routine maintenance on the car. If I had not maintained the car, it would have stopped working ages ago. The impressive aspect of the Mars rover is that it has survived without anyone needs to tighten a nut, change oil, replace a battery or wheel or any of the routine operations that we have to use for our normal machines to keep them operational.

  • Re:Yea ok (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PickyH3D (680158) on Friday January 27, 2012 @03:24PM (#38843507)

    A break-in period that consisted of being shipped slowly on a ship compared to a violent launch on the top of a rocket, as well as the re-entry into the atmosphere of a largely mysterious planet, and finally the potentially violent landing.

    Then, once in use and with the odometer actually ticking up, the Mercedes gets an oil change every few thousand miles, or every few months; it's also refueled probably every other week, at least. And it's probably not in a hostile environment the entirety of its driven life, at least without serious repair assistance.

    So, yes, we really should be proud of the Opportunity for lasting for eight years while 78 million miles from a repair shop.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 27, 2012 @04:08PM (#38844113)

    This does appear to be a concerted astro-turfing campaign.

    Not because it goes against the grain here at /. , but because these fucking morons are posting it in every single fucking story.

    Most individuals would have given up by now, perhaps figured their point got across, but this troll just keeps on posting on and on, in every single fucking thread, every single one. Just like those fucking annoying people who post advertisements in the middle of threads.

    If it has been two or three threads I could buy the idea that it was a concerned individual, but at this point no.

    If it is indeed a concerned individual, and he is reading this, please stop, you are hurting your cause tremendously. You made your point quite some time ago, now you are being counterproductive.

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