Skip to comments.The Mars Rovers' Long and Fruitful Journeys
Posted on 01/04/2009 4:06:24 PM PST by neverdem
There aren't a lot of machines that operate 20 times longer than they were supposed to. There aren't a lot of scientists doing 20 times more research than they intended to. There aren't a lot of explorers covering 20 times more ground than they were supposed to be able to.
But then again, there aren't a lot of things like NASA's Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers, the robotic ships that landed on the Red Planet five years ago this month with an expected lifespan of 90 days, and yet have chugged along ever since surviving paralyzing cold, blinding dust and long periods without sun, all of which occasionally left them silent and still, but only until conditions improved and they shook off the dust, stirred to life and puttered off to do more work. So far, Spirit and Opportunity have beamed home a quarter of a million images and 36 gigabytes of data and revealed more about Martian history than any spacecraft in half a century of space travel and by all indications, they could be keeping it up for a long time to come...
(Excerpt) Read more at time.com ...
They keep going!!! I read an article earlier today that said they were heading in a direction that will bring them together again. Would be great to pictures of each other as they approach.
Gonna have to wait a while for those.
When are they gonna have babies!!!! It was amazing watching on NASA when these cute little things landed.
They landed on the opposite side of the planet.
I recommend reading at least the first several entries--as she went through landing and initial explorations.
Of course, if you prefer flowers and sunshine, you might like opportunitygrrl's journal
I love these little guys.
Both to the Moon and Mars, one of the most important missions that could be sent from Earth is a tunnel burrowing robot. Having large, hard rock tunnels waiting for the astronauts would solve any number of serious logistical problems, and protect them from cosmic and enhanced radiation, extremes of heat and cold, vacuum or low atmosphere, and abrasive dust on the Moon.
The tunnel digger would have to be nuclear powered, slow and deliberate. But even if it just dug an inch of tunnel a day, in a year it could dig over 30 feet of tunnel. And its nuclear reactor could provide a lot of energy for any number of other purposes.
Because it would be on a one way trip, its ship could be cannibalized for reinforcing rod, pressure doors, flooring and reinforcing members.
Once it had dug a certain distance, it would insert reinforcing rods into the ceiling. Then after the tunnel was dug, it would spray a sealant on the inside against microfissures. If it installed one or more pressure doors, it might even be able to test the tunnel for air tightness.
Sending such robots first would take years off the time needed to set up permanent bases, allow the missions to be much longer, with more supplies and equipment.
Send Me to Mars!
who writes that?
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