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Mars Space Science

Opportunity Begins 10th Year on Mars 78

Posted by samzenpus
from the sticking-around dept.
An anonymous reader points out that 9 years ago the Opportunity rover started to explore the red planet. "The older, smaller cousin of NASA's huge Mars rover Curiosity is quietly celebrating a big milestone Thursday — nine years on the surface of the Red Planet. NASA's Opportunity rover landed on Mars the night of Jan. 24, 2004 PST (just after midnight EST on Jan. 25), three weeks after its twin, Spirit, touched down. Spirit stopped operating in 2010, but Opportunity is still going strong, helping scientists better understand the Red Planet's wetter, warmer past."
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Opportunity Begins 10th Year on Mars

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  • Huzzah! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by docmordin (2654319) on Friday January 25, 2013 @02:32AM (#42688255)

    Here's to Opportunity and, hopefully, another ten years!

    • Re:Huzzah! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by eksith (2776419) on Friday January 25, 2013 @02:46AM (#42688315) Homepage

      Hear, hear!

      Carry on, Opportunity, your sister will always be with you in Spirit.

      • Re:Huzzah! (Score:4, Funny)

        by c0lo (1497653) on Friday January 25, 2013 @03:55AM (#42688575)

        Hear, hear!

        Carry on, Opportunity, your sister will always be with you in Spirit [xkcd.com].

        Oblig. FTFY

        • Re:Huzzah! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by eksith (2776419) on Friday January 25, 2013 @08:17AM (#42689411) Homepage
          I usually go to xkcd to be amused or be provoked into thinking, but this rover existentialism made me a bit sad, actually. I know it's just an inanimate object, but it's hard to stay objective when there's a voice being projecting onto it :/
          • Re:Huzzah! (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Skater (41976) on Friday January 25, 2013 @08:53AM (#42689623) Homepage Journal
            Maybe this will help, [youtube.com] courtesy of Ikea.
            • Re:Huzzah! (Score:4, Insightful)

              by excelsior_gr (969383) on Friday January 25, 2013 @03:24PM (#42694183)

              Thank you for sharing this. I will never buy anything from IKEA ever again. It is even more sad to learn that the advertisement was a "popular, critical, and financial success" and boosted IKEA's sales, according to Wikipedia.

              How could a commercial about consumerism resonate with people? Let's all throw away all our stuff for no reason and buy new shit! This is what our IKEA-overlords want us to do! Never mind about the environment, your savings account, or the mere fact that someone may be in need of a lamp and cannot afford it. Not to mention that you can always make a buck by selling the lamp in a used goods store or in a garage sale. And I am sure you can even buy this lamp model brand new marketed as "retro design" or something like that.

              Back on topic, maybe IKEA would suggest that we should trash Opportunity now that Curiosity is up and running. Yes objects are inanimate and have no feelings, but that doesn't mean that we should act as retarded sheep.

              • by Skater (41976)

                You've never redesigned a website or anything, ever, even though it performs the same functions in the end? Sure, it's electrons instead of physical objects, but there's still a cost to it - the time to do the work, test it, and deploy it. Is that consumerism, too?

                Besides, and only on /. would I be arguing this, but: 1. Perhaps the lamp had a faulty switch or something. Sure, it could be repaired, but if you already aren't happy with the style or the way it throws light, this could be the trigger to

                • If the item really is faulty, then you don't have bad feelings when throwing it away. You just discard it like the junk that it is. Same goes for source code: the work is justified when the old version is a pile of spaghetti code that is hard to maintain and expand. When you know that the stuff are going to be picked up, you also don't have bad feelings. Through its tone, the commercial suggests that the item is being treated in a cruel and "unfair" manner, thus implying that it can still fulfill its functi

            • by eksith (2776419)
              That didn't help at all! :( Also, I own a lamp that looks almost exactly like that. Now I need to watch more Maru videos.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            I usually go to xkcd to be amused or be provoked into thinking, but this rover existentialism made me a bit sad, actually. I know it's just an inanimate object, but it's hard to stay objective when there's a voice being projecting onto it :/

            My 6 year old daughter and I happened to watch the launch of Curiosity, and while we were waiting I showed her some pictures of Curiosity. She thought it was really cute. We talked about rockets and stuff, and eventually she asked how it got back to earth. When I explained that it wouldn't she got really quiet then started crying. She was very upset by the idea that this little robot would never get to come home.

    • Agreed! *clank* To Opportunity and another nine Earth years!

    • Re:Huzzah! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Barryke (772876) on Friday January 25, 2013 @06:55AM (#42689171) Homepage

      That would be another 9 years, not 10. Opportunity is now starting its 10th year..

    • *Nine* years. /pedant
  • Not Bad (Score:5, Informative)

    by bp2179 (765697) on Friday January 25, 2013 @02:46AM (#42688317)
    Not bad at all for something that was planned to last only about 3 months, if it made it past the "beachball" landing.
    • Re:Not Bad (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday January 25, 2013 @02:56AM (#42688361) Journal

      Opportunity is definitely one of NASA's great success stories. A wonder of engineering talent (and a heavy dose of good luck).

      I hope by the time humans finally walk on Mars, it's still there so it can be preserved.

      • Re:Not Bad (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 25, 2013 @03:09AM (#42688417)

        "I hope by the time humans finally walk on Mars, it's still there so it can be preserved"

        I don't think its going anywhere...

        • by Anonymous Coward

          That all depends on what hood it happens to roll up into. On earth there are places like South Central LA where cars roll in and mysteriously disappear.

          • by OakDragon (885217)

            That all depends on what hood it happens to roll up into. On earth there are places like South Central LA where cars roll in and mysteriously disappear.

            So maybe we'll find it up on cement blocks, with the tires gone?

          • That all depends on what hood it happens to roll up into. On earth there are places like South Central LA where cars roll in and mysteriously disappear.

            So that is what happened to Spirit. Someone stole all the wheels.

        • Re:Not Bad (Score:5, Funny)

          by interkin3tic (1469267) on Friday January 25, 2013 @11:20AM (#42690883)
          They didn't expect it to last longer than 3 months. They were wrong. They didn't expect it to be able to gain self-awareness, build a rocket, and launch itself into space again...
        • Maybe, while they're at it, they can give Spirit a nudge and get her rolling again.

      • Re:Not Bad (Score:4, Interesting)

        by SeaFox (739806) on Friday January 25, 2013 @04:02AM (#42688605)

        I hope by the time humans finally walk on Mars, it's still there so it can be preserved.

        I just had a mental image of humans landing on Mars and Opportunity rolling up and waving an arm at them in greeting when they open the hatch to step out. :-3

      • Re:Not Bad (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Ihlosi (895663) on Friday January 25, 2013 @04:46AM (#42688735)
        I hope by the time humans finally walk on Mars, it's still there so it can be preserved.
        However, the implications of the rover no longer being where it is assumed to be would be ... interesting.
        Might make for a good start of a sci-fi horror movie ... or comedy.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Yeah. 100 years from now we roll up in our Mars buggy to Opportunity's location, see wheel tracks (I know, erosion, shut up - this is my fantasy) leading up to the exact location where the rover should be, and...no rover.

          Then I can't decide whether it would be cooler/weirder if it was just wheel tracks and no rover or wheel tracks with strange looking "foot" prints leading up to the spot where there was no rover...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I am consistently impressed by this exquisite example of engineering.

        The folks who designed and built these machines must have an incredible sense of achievement. I understand the argument that money could have saved if they were designed for and not in excess of the requirements, but in this age of consumer electronics and epic budget cuts those engineers delivered engineering success.

        I often wonder what the engineering management lessons are to be learnt from the likes of JPL, and how these lessons could

      • by Sentrion (964745)

        By the time humans arrive, the rover will be much older and wiser. But on the other hand, after decades in isolation, the rover may go "native" and repell any human landing as an invasion of its territory.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...with a wetter, warmer past. I too spent about ten years exploring that before hitting 24 and moving away. Way to go opportunity!

  • Not even 5 years (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 25, 2013 @02:57AM (#42688373)

    Martian year is 1.88 Earth years, so it hasn't even run for 5 years on Mars.

  • This is just another classic example of how the federal government is unable to keep systems up to date. Any org that cared would've at least had someone add a few more dimms or...wait...

  • by Grayhand (2610049) on Friday January 25, 2013 @03:02AM (#42688391)
    "Ah, guys, it's been ten years. Seriously when am I coming home? I figured a year, eighteen months tops. You did make plans to bring me back, right? I mean it's not like you planned to abandon me here. Okay I'll check out this next geological feature but after that we're having a heart to heart about cashing in this return ticket. The winters here are murder and I keep dreaming of that tropical retirement you promised. I found some possible signs of life but I'll discuss it once I'm back in Florida. Just get me back to palm trees and bikinis and I'll tell you whatever you want to know!"
  • What was the running gag here, about the Martian overlord extolling his people to withstand the invasion and what not?

  • And yet... (Score:5, Funny)

    by matunos (1587263) on Friday January 25, 2013 @05:32AM (#42688897)

    Still no sign of oil. What a f*ckin waste!

  • by Max_W (812974) on Friday January 25, 2013 @08:26AM (#42689445)
    It is easier to send a robot to Mars than to, say, a local supermarket. It would probably not last in a supermarket for a week.

    The really hostile environment for robots is the human social environment.

    It is clear how to protect against radiation or low temperatures, but how to protect against coffee into circuits or lipstick on lenses? Or just plain simple kicks from behind.

    These are complicated and important problems because robots could be very useful on Earth too right now.
    • by Zeromous (668365)

      This has been fully explored in Short Circuit, and Short Circuit 2.

      You basically just need Fisher Stevens and you can get along fine anywhere (well, maybe with a little mayhem).

  • by TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) on Friday January 25, 2013 @08:26AM (#42689447)

    I remember it well... it was to be another one of those "boots on the ground, three months and you're out" kind of missions. History is full of those, you would think we'd learned the lesson by now.

    Curiosity has hit the ground rolling and predictably the folks at NASA are claiming that this new surge means certain victory. Home by Christmas. Do not be distracted though. They are still out there [wikipedia.org] waiting for reinforcement and relief!

    Is it because they are robots?? If I am speaking out of turn so be it. I cannot imagine that if some young soldier were to become immobilized, his leg caught in the sand in some desert, that the military would "re-task him as a stationary strategic platform" and later cease all attempts at communication or rescue.

    If they have failed to find much less engage the enemy it has been a fault of NASA Central Command. Bring Opportunity and the others home to a hero's welcome. Bring them home and let them wander the highways and strip malls of this great country and support them in their twilight years. And discounts on furniture and restaurants.

  • I always thought solar power would not cut it ...
    Should the panles not be degraded beyond oblivion and covert with dust ...
    Ah, well solar works well on Mars but not on Earth, I forgot about that.

  • by jfengel (409917) on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:18PM (#42691657) Homepage Journal

    If you'd asked me, I would have said maybe five years. It's been nine?

    Massive kudos to the entire Opportunity team. It's been awesome. But damn, now I feel old.

  • Curiosity, although rated for only two earth years, could last decade. And NASA has the approval to send another version of Curiosity to Mars in 6-8 years. It would use the same infrastructure to cut costs. But it would have a a more modern set of instruments.

"But this one goes to eleven." -- Nigel Tufnel

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