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NASA Space Science Technology

Thick Dust Alters NASA Mars Rover Plans 97

coondoggie writes "NASA's long-running Mars rover Opportunity is getting ready for the harsh Martian winter, but this year for the first time in its nearly eight-year history it needs a sunnier location to continue its work. NASA said the rover, which depends on solar power for energy, is sitting just south of Mars' equator and has worked through four Martian southern hemisphere winters. Being closer to the equator than its now defunct twin rover, Spirit, Opportunity has not needed to stay on a Sun-facing slope during previous winters but now its solar panels carry a thicker coating of Martian dust than before."
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Thick Dust Alters NASA Mars Rover Plans

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 05, 2012 @07:34PM (#38604738)

    If only the rovers had a smart cover, they could turn on and as you open it and it cleans the solar panels from finger prints every time! Martian finger prints in this case.

  • by Caerdwyn ( 829058 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @07:36PM (#38604758) Journal
    Then the windshield wipers should work really well.
  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @07:42PM (#38604796) Homepage Journal
    I would imagine someone at NASA thought of that, but since they lacked an engineering degree, they were swiftly beaten with cudgels...

    NASA Engineers: "There we go, fellas, the rover's done! Nothing to do now but stick it on a billion dollar rocket and send 'er off into space! Just have to hope it doesn't get too dusty too fast."

    NASA Janitor, passing by: "Uh... couldn't you just stick, I dunno, some windshield wipers or somethin' on it?"

    NASA Engineers: ...
  • by KendyForTheState ( 686496 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @07:58PM (#38604932)
    Whoa! Nuclear powered windshield wipers! How cool is that?
  • by decep ( 137319 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @07:59PM (#38604954)

    One wonders why they did not just use the nuclear power for the rest of the rover.

  • by suomynonAyletamitlU ( 1618513 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:00PM (#38604964)

    OH NOES!!!! NUKES!!! Evil!!!

    It's okay. Mars is the definition of "Not In My Back Yard," so Earthlings are all for it. And if the little grey dudes wanted us to stick to solar, they should have just blown the dust off the previous rovers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:03PM (#38604988)
    Martians are green, you insensitive clod!
  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:19PM (#38605136) Journal

    Like a "meteor shower"? Ouch!

  • by ae1294 ( 1547521 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:26PM (#38605202) Journal

    . . . we could send someone up to dust them off, right?

    "Check your oil for you, sir? That left front tire could use a bit of air . . . "

    Now I remember why we used to call them "service stations" instead of "gas stations" . . .

    Really? I figured they once had hookers or something...

  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @09:57PM (#38605780)
    K'Breel, Speaker for the Council, was on his way from a late (as opposed to late-breaking) Council Meeting to his domicile, where he intended to consume nutrients. While exiting the Council Hall, an enthusiastic Citizen beseeched him thus:

    Our gelsacs hunger for the words of the mighty K'Breel on the battle against the invaders from the blue world.

    Always willing to place the needs of his Citizens before his own, the Speaker replied: "What more needs be said? One invader lies immobile and frozen in the plains. A second lies buried in a slowly-accumulating layer of carbox at the northern pole, a third never left the blue world's gravity well and spirals ever inward to a fiery doom (our analysts suggest a 75% probability of any surviving parts being condemned to dissolve in the toxic blue soup!), and although a fourth may have recently escaped the blue world's gravity well, it is destined to spend the next season squarely in the crosshairs of our Orbital Defense Forces, and yet you still require a progress report against this - this last struggling holdout?"

    "Let me reassure you personally, dear Citizen: as surely as dust continues to be distributed over the invader's solar panels, the Council sees no crisis, and barely an Opportunity. But even the dimmest of opportunities is worth seizing!"

    ~``~ideo~`ransmission fr`m news ~eport~~`~`hecksum mismatc~~``~~``

    Having delayed a hungry Speaker from his return home after a Council meeting, it is reported that the equally hungry gelsacs of enthusiastic citizen #64226 were seized, freeze-dried, ground into powder, and then tossed into the winds as part of the DDoS (Distributed Dusting of Solarpanels) attack still being conducted by our brave forces against the remaining invader at Devaur's End.

    "A shining example to all who live on our fair world, this enthusiastic Citizen took advantage of a rare Opportunity to take the battle directly to the enemy, and he shall be remembered fondly! EVER ONWARD TO VICTORY!" (Oh, and thank you for the excuse, Citizen. Don't worry too much. Sometimes they grow back!)

  • by Kamiza Ikioi ( 893310 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @10:39AM (#38609334)

    Then the windshield wipers should work really well.


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