back to article Mars rovers dust-free and on the move

After weathering the dust storms of the past two months, the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity have had their solar panels swept free off dust by kinder, gentler winds. With full power restored, the two explorers are now ready to renew their slow crawl over the surface of the red planet. Opportunity now stands on the crest of …

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Driving into a hole? Good Idea?

MMmmm... As this thing runs on Sun Power, is Driving into a hole the best idea in the world? (Or out of this world?)

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Anonymous Coward

managment policy ?

Just a thought

were these not meant to work for 'a few months' ?

Now I think it's great they are still working, a great engineering solution, BUT

If I presented my manager with some thing so over engineered, he'd blow a fuse.. and certainly cut us back on expenditure next time.

Does this mean that at last NASA has let the engineers gain the upper hand, and no more 'shuttle' managers int he way,

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Not "overengineered"...overly cautious in estimates

The original NASA estimates took into account the expected build-up of dust on the solar panels, which was expected to slowly diminish the electrical power generation of the rovers. This was expected to lead to their demise in a few months, as the panels were not equipped with any cleaning instruments for the panels, and non-working panels mean dead rovers.

However, the winds of Mars have proven to be highly reliable and unexpected cleansers of the panels, even un-doing the caking that was caused by the recent massive dust storms. This was simply not expected: too little is known about those winds, in terms of speed and frequency, for anyone to have a real estimate. Given continuous cleansing of the panels, the rovers have now performed beyond expectations - although they have had a number of smaller mechanical breakdowns and outright failures. I believe one of the rovers can only use several of its powered wheels and not some others, and one may have other drive problems. But NASA has been incredibly skillful in working around the problems, re-programming on the go where necessary, and just plain being cautious in how they handle the rovers.

So, again, they were not over designed, it was just that the original estimates forecast a demise who's cause has been abated. By Mars own doing, no less.

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Hope they find the spiders wot did it

It would make the jamboree worthwhile. Else we will have to put up with lots more of this:

"the winds of Mars have proven to be highly reliable and unexpected cleansers of the panels, even un-doing the caking that was caused by the recent massive dust storms. This was simply not expected: too little is known about those winds, in terms of speed and frequency".

If winds are due to atmospheres on rotating planets, then how come there are bigger winds on Mars than on Earth, when the atmosphere is much thinner. The winds are really so big that dust storms can cover the whole planet - yet the atmosphere is extremely tenuous. Then, if the winds undid the caked up Rovers, how come they didn't also smash the buggys to bits? Either it was aManfromMars (but no, he's grounded), or it was something else that cleaned up the Rovers. Like electrostatic cleaning. Never mind too little being known about their speed and frequency (send a weather station next time - they're quite cheap at Maplin) the more basic question is why they are there at all.

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@Hope they find ...

They are there to confirm that we were once the Martians, but the super comet Venus made a close flyby and sucked all the water off of Mars and depositing it on Earth ...

... however ... we were highly evolved and hi-tech Martians and saw it coming, jumped in Giant spaceships that we lived on a few years, upping the artificial gravity to Earth's and waiting for the planet to calm down

and here we be with lots of bad backs

cheers :)

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Anonymous Coward

Looking, looking, looking....

Perhaps they are looking for Steve Fossett?

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