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NASA Mars Space Technology

Opportunity Breaks NASA's 40-Year Roving Record 92

Posted by samzenpus
from the long-and-dusty-trail dept.
astroengine writes "After nine years of hard Mars roving, Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Opportunity has broken a 40-year-old extraterrestrial distance record. On Thursday, the tenacious six-wheeled robot drove 80 meters (263 feet), nudging the total distance traveled since landing on the red planet in 2004 to 35.760 kilometers (22.220 miles). NASA's previous distance record was held by Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt when, in December 1972, they drove their Lunar Roving Vehicle 35.744 kilometers (22.210 miles) over the lunar surface. Although it's broken the NASA distance record, it hasn't surpassed the international record, yet. The Soviet Lunokhod 2 remote-controlled moon rover roved 37 kilometers (23 miles) across the lunar surface and, so far, remains the undisputed champion of distance driving on an extraterrestrial surface."
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Opportunity Breaks NASA's 40-Year Roving Record

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  • And likely will be for a long time to come. And so it should be, at least while we are doing for the science.
    • After the asteroid, who will be around to control them? We need manned missions if the human race is to avoid extinction. We Have All Our Eggs In One Basket, you FOOL.

      • by delt0r (999393)
        Well the thing is we have centuries to get our eggs in other baskets without changing the probability of a ELE much at all. Its on the order of once every 10's of millions of years. And no not having one for a while does not put the probability up. And even then these events are sterilization events, and anything less than that is unlikely to wipe out homo sapiens.

        Right now the space station has cost us more than $100B, and for what? Even Apollo? Where is my return on investment, and no i don't mean mone
        • by Xanlexian (122112)
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_spin-off_technologies [wikipedia.org]

          I'd say we've received SOME return on that investment.

          • by delt0r (999393)
            These are from NASA, but in no way just spin off from a manned program. If there was no apollo or ISS theses things would have probably still happened. That is really my point. NASA is in fact not good at manned space missions. Its pretty good at remote sensing missions.

            Even if you are a space buff, wanting NASA to take humans to mars is not the way to humans living in space. Apollo push that goal no further forward and neither will another more extreme Apollo.
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Right now after the asteroid all that will happen is it will be a race to see if lack of food, water or air kills your off Earth humans.

        Robots will allow us to prepare a site for humans. You are trying to put the cart before the robot horse.

    • by Wonda (457426)

      I don't know.. 9 years for a whole 22 miles, it'll take those television show people DAYS to cover more space if they ever get there.

      • by delt0r (999393)
        And for the same money we could send a much faster and more capable rover. Hell we could probably send dozen and even 100s more of much faster, more capable rovers. The current missions have cost about 1000x less than project manned mission.
  • speedy... (Score:5, Informative)

    by lfourrier (209630) on Friday May 17, 2013 @08:23AM (#43750679)
    35760m in 3309 days is about 45 cm/h
    ( and imperial types can translate from SI themselves)
  • Is there like, a trophy or something that goes to the winner? Maybe they should get a contract to manufacture electric powered vehicles to reward their expertise.
  • by Covalent (1001277) on Friday May 17, 2013 @08:54AM (#43750907)
    Seriously, try walking 1 meter in 1 minute and 40 seconds and you'll get an idea just how slow the rovers travel. Now walk 22 miles at that speed. That said, the accomplishment is still incredible. Show me any moving device that had received no maintenance in 9 years and still works.
    • by wagnerrp (1305589) on Friday May 17, 2013 @09:13AM (#43751129)
      The rovers don't move anywhere near that slow. They only spend a minute or two moving per day. After budgeting daily energy requirements for heaters, communications gear, and science equipment, that's all they have left to move the thing around.
    • Voyager 1, 35 years.

      My washing machine - 14 years

      • Even with incredibly dirty laundry, I doubt a washing machine operates in the same kind of harsh and hostile environment :)

        • You haven't seen my apartment. Heh.

          No, in all seriousness i'm merely pointing out that the original posters assertion as perceived by me, that it was incredibly rare for mechanical devices to survive 9 years without maintenance, is not necessarily the case. Plenty of washers, dryers, cars, and things like servos, industrial machines etc... may not receive maintenance for a LONG time and still continue to function as designed. A good example would be Russian nuclear lighthouses, which are hundreds of miles f

    • Show me any moving device that had received no maintenance in 9 years and still works.

      Never taken a taxi in Africa then, huh?

    • by toddestan (632714)

      how me any moving device that had received no maintenance in 9 years and still works.

      My fridge?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    seem already to work quite well... on Mars

  • by Ellis D. Tripp (755736) on Friday May 17, 2013 @09:21AM (#43751223) Homepage

    , spread over 3 separate EVAs in 3 days. All of the unmanned US and Russian rovers took a lot longer to set their distance records.

    If the Apollo program was allowed to continue past 17, there were plans for even longer distance surface excursions. There were even preliminary studies done for a small flying vehicle to allow the astronauts to cover even longer distances from their landing site.

  • I don't think lunar travel can even begin to compare to travel on a planet like Mars. There is no atmosphere and very low gravity.

  • If you define a geological stop for at least a day to take pictures and maybe manipulate rocks/soils. The MERs have done over a thousand of these stops in their combined 6000 days of work. Lunakhod nor Apollo never came close to this number.
  • If they offer me the flight, I'll run the full marathon to break the record

  • That was 19 km/h on the first Apollo 17 EVA, down a fairly steep hill, though John Young was sceptical, probably because he was the record holder at the time.

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