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back to article NASA rovers to lose comms this week as Mars moves behind Sun

NASA has announced that its surviving Mars rover will be unable to receive commands from Earth for much of the week, as the red planet is about to pass behind the Sun. The plan is for rover Opportunity to spend the blackout period sitting stationary, (gently) blasting a rock with a cobalt-powered radiation beam. The Santa Maria …

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2014?

Considering the cost of shipping a Humvee to Mars, planning for 2 years fuel seems a little short-sighted. Is there any reason why they didn't plan on, say, 5 years? Or is this just assuming NASA's usual success rate, where the folow-up to something that was astonishingly successful is 10x more complex, and breaks down after a month?

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Boffin

Mass

It's a trade-off between power and instruments, if you up the "fuel" load you have to leave something else off.

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Anonymous Coward

RIP* Spirit.

*Rust in Peace.

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Headmaster

Very, very slowly

Given the lack of airborne water & oxygen, methinks rusting will take a while. That and the fact the rover is probably mostly made of fancier, non-rusting metals.

But I shared the sentiment...RIP, poor rover.

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Boffin

Expected in 2014...

"MMRTG is designed to produce 125 watts of electrical power at the start of the mission and 100 watts after 14 years." [http://pdf.aiaa.org/preview/CDReadyMIECEC06_1309/PV2006_4187.pdf]

So one would assume that although the current mission may only be timetabled for the first two years there will be plenty of power for many years to come.

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Mishaps

"There has to be some chance, barring mishaps or mechanical breakdown, that the veteran Opportunity may yet be going at that point"

Such as accidentally getting in the path of a lumbering Curiosity...

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FAIL

CRC anyone?

"To avoid the chance of a command being corrupted by the sun and harming a spacecraft"

Since when are they not using CRC or anything better on communications? I even use it on any communication even if it is just a few cm... NASA FAIL?

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Boffin

@CRC

CRCs and crafty encoding techniques have been used in spacecraft communications since the dawn of the space age. It's the only way, for example, to make sense of the data that is sent from any deep space probe. Such data is typically buried deep in the noise of background radiation and has to be picked out using clever mathematics.

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Happy

Only the Americans...

... would want to send a Humvee to Mars.

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hmm..

Relay the signal via galileo?

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Remembering Spirit

These articles remind me of this Spirit comic:

http://xkcd.com/695/

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Ahhh, the Mars rovers

Cracking stuff that!

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Longevity

Over 20 times their planned mission duration - now that's legacy kit!

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FAIL

@@CRC

My statement remains valid (even if 4 idiots managed to give it a thumbs down).

The article specifically states the fear of commands getting corrupted. If they have been using CRC since the dawn of the space age, why fear a corrupt command goes through? Unless your comms protocol stinks....

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Anonymous Coward

Familiar ground

seven years to cover just 26.7km .............we have a bus service like that round here, too

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