Mars rovers.... still running...

Discussion in 'The OT' started by Mark Holtz, Jan 1, 2006.

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  1. Jan 1, 2006 #1 of 18
    Mark Holtz

    Mark Holtz New Texan

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    Richardson,...
    From SF Gate:

    Rovers Still Exploring Mars After 2 Years
    FULL ARTICLE HERE
     
  2. Jan 1, 2006 #2 of 18
    Cyclone

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    I remember reading once, how a dust devil passed over a rover and cleaned away the built up of dust on the solar panels. After it happened, the power output of the panels increased. :D
     
  3. Jan 2, 2006 #3 of 18
    lastmanstanding

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    I wonder how long they will fund the rovers? Looks like the darn things will just keep rolling until the wheels come off.

    LMS
     
  4. Jan 2, 2006 #4 of 18
    invaliduser88

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    Energizer Bunny must be there hero.
     
  5. Jan 3, 2006 #5 of 18
    Nick

    Nick Retired, part-time PITA DBSTalk Club

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    Actually, the rovers themselves continue operating at no extra cost to taxpayers -- it's the ongoing ground support costs that keeps running up the tab. JPL apparently has a blank check.
     
  6. Jan 3, 2006 #6 of 18
    cdru

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    I don't beleive it was a dust devil that did the cleaning. This photograph clearly identifies the source of the increased power output.
     
  7. Jan 3, 2006 #7 of 18
    cdru

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    The costs of keeping ground-based support running the program is an order of magnitude less then what it would cost to deploy a similar rover/robot on another mission. While the offical mission of these two rovers has long been over, my view is that they should keep on going as long as they can. They have already discovered numerous things that we could only speculate on before.
     
  8. Jan 3, 2006 #8 of 18
    Nick

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    "order of magnitude?" Would you care to quantify?

    Oh, and it's than, not "then". :cool:
     
  9. Jan 3, 2006 #9 of 18
    lastmanstanding

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    That's what I was referring to. The question of when to pull the plug on old projects is a tough one. Voyager is still flying, sending data about the heliopause and about the interstellar medium. Keeping the lights on is a high seven figure annual expense.

    The twin rovers are still workable, but we have probably crossed the line of diminishing return. Now that I've said that, Spirit will spot a Martian trilobite sticking out of the bedrock.

    I would love to see a serious ground mission to the poles even though the best topography is hostile to landers and especially rovers. Mars is a big place.


    LMS
     
  10. Jacob S

    Jacob S Hall Of Fame

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    It is a wise move to keep those rovers going considering the cost to get them there. They consider it a very good investment this go around. They built them a lot tougher than they thought they would be or the environment does not bother them as much as they thought it would. Look at other failed missions that they had. This is their way of making up for it.
     
  11. lastmanstanding

    lastmanstanding Godfather

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    Good point. I was looking at it from science standpoint. NASA needs something good going on with the shuttle in shambles and the ISS doing nothing. Personally, I would go for an all out effort for a robust new propulsion technology for manned and unmanned orbital access and solar system missions.

    Decade long sling shot tragectories represent a step backwards and avoid the real issues in the name of cost savings.

    The problem with the current rover mission is that the machines can only traverse so far, they are therefore limited in the topography and geology they can examine. Either rover can drive for a year and still be in basically the same terrain, looking at different versions of the same structures. Hence, diminishing scientific returns.

    The cost of babysitting the rovers is tiny compared to trying to loft the cement turkey the shuttle has morphed into, that's where the cost savings need to be gleened. And the DoD can use the ISS for target practice.

    LMS
     
  12. Jacob S

    Jacob S Hall Of Fame

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    The longer these rovers last the more likely they will get funding for another exploration. It will prove that you can get a lot more accomplished with the money that it takes to do it.
     
  13. invaliduser88

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    You think I can get better gas mileage doing that?:lol:
     
  14. n8dagr8

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    and we all remember why the other Mars mission failed, right? :D :nono2:
     
  15. markh

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    That darn Metric System!
     
  16. cdru

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    Sure thing. From the article:
    The original mission was $820m. The "extended missions" have cost $84m. It's not quite an order of magnitude, but close enough for government work. All the money is in designing, building, and shipping the robot to Mars.
     
  17. lastmanstanding

    lastmanstanding Godfather

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    The orbiter was lost as part of the 'faster, better, cheaper' initiative. The lesson learned was that you can have two of the three, but not all three at the same time. The Mars Polar Lander was lost for the same reason. One more simulation would have revealed the software error, but there was no room in the budget so the spacecraft was lost.

    It was a shame that so much science was lost before NASA stood up to the politicians, as much as that is possible.

    I still wonder how long they'll run the rovers. The way they are holding up this could go on for years. At $40M USD a year give or take, eventually other priorities will surely supercede. The real crunch will be when the next lander hits the sand, then the rovers will be competing directly for funds, personel, and support equipment.

    LMS
     
  18. Nick

    Nick Retired, part-time PITA DBSTalk Club

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    The...
    Thank you! :righton:
     
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