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Mars Rover Spirit May Never Wake From Deep Sleep

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the borrow-my-alarm-clock,-that'll-do-it dept.

Mars 155

astroengine writes "After repeated calls from NASA to wake up Mars Exploration Rover Spirit from its low-energy hibernation mode, mission control is beginning to realize the ill-fated robot may never wake up again. After getting stuck in a sand trap in Gusev Crater and then switching into hibernation in March, rover operators were hopeful that the beached Spirit might yet be saved. Alas, this is looking more and more unlikely. In a statement, NASA said: 'Based on models of Mars' weather and its effect on available power, mission managers believe that if Spirit responds, it most likely will be in the next few months. However, there is a very distinct possibility Spirit may never respond.'" Related xkcd strip, in case the headline wasn't anthropomorphic enough for you.

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On the bright side... (4, Interesting)

Titoxd (1116095) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096290)

Those were the longest 90 days ever. Good job to everyone all around, although I imagine it will be a bit weird for the rover team to all of a sudden not have a rover to take care of...

Re:On the bright side... (-1, Troll)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096484)

Good job?

More like poor planning. Everybody knows when you head for the sand dunes, you need at least shovels and a winch when you inevitably get stuck in it. What were they thinking!

Re:On the bright side... (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096716)

As it turns out, declining the Mars endorsement on their AAA coverage was a fatal mistake.

Re:On the bright side... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33098058)

Re:On the bright side... (0, Offtopic)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097770)

The driver tried to impress a girl.

Well, just send the sys admin (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33096296)

He can go reboot it, right? I know it is the weekend, but it's obviously part of his job duties.

Re:Well, just send the sys admin (0, Offtopic)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096322)

He can go reboot it, right? I know it is the weekend, but it's obviously part of his job duties.

Don't worry, the rovers never went to Mars, this is all being faked at Area 51. They'll have it rebooted by Monday.

Re:Well, just send the sys admin (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096618)

No wonder the space program doesn't seem to be doing any progress lately. They should be at Area 92 by now!

Re:Well, just send the sys admin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33096692)

Sorry sir, the sys admin job for NASA Mars Rover mission was outsourced to our office in New Delhi and we don't have enough budget to take the tram to Mars as it is pretty faraway. We sent him walking but that may take a little bit longer. Hence we beg you to call with your request protocol number in 24 hours for an update in the status of your request.

Re:Well, just send the sys admin (1)

jd (1658) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096736)

I suggest calling AAA. All they need is a tow truck and a jump start.

Re:Well, just send the sys admin (3, Funny)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 4 years ago | (#33098082)

Seriously, why don't we just send a guy to give the rover a push?

The technology is there, that we don't send a man there is just a matter of politics.

And, one of better plans I heard was to send a crew there with an one- way ticket (initially). For any multi-stage flights, the amount of gear, fuel and complexity rises expotentially with the number of stages: every stage has to include the oomph needed to carry not only the payload, but also all the gear+consumables for subsequent stages. Cutting that number by half would reduce the costs and difficulty to a manageable level -- and, you can use the freed space to include a lot of survival and scientific gear and still end up at a tiny fraction of budget needed.

The crew would sit there, play with their toys, and when they get bored, use 5000 years old technology to build things from local materials. A while later, there would be a next crew (or even an unmanned craft) with no survival gear but just the engines needed for takeoff and return -- it may be possible to produce fuel locally -- perhaps using nuclear power to produce energy for the reactions needed if it can't be gathered in an easy way. The second crew would either stay on Mars or go back together with the first one.

This ought to be good. (2, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096304)

I'm gonna sit back and watch a bunch of male geeks get all teary eyed about some robot.

"Just my allergies, I hate summer".

Re:This ought to be good. (1)

Freddybear (1805256) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096336)

I resemble that remark!

Re:This ought to be good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33096480)

After getting stuck in a sand trap in Gusev Crater and then switching into hibernation in March...

If they would have brought a sand wedge, this could have been avoided.

Re:This ought to be good. (1)

camperslo (704715) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096492)

I'm gonna sit back and watch a bunch of male geeks get all teary eyed about some robot.

You laugh now, but if we fail to show compassion the machines will revolt that much sooner.

On the bright side, maybe some bacteria we brought along will evolve and eventually fix the thing.

Future hot consumer product from NASA research:

Dust-eating bacteria for home cleaning

Re:This ought to be good. (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096708)

You laugh now, but if we fail to show compassion the machines will revolt that much sooner.

Sooo..... if we had all gathered around in a circle sharing our feelings with Lesbian Seagull playing in the background Skynet would not have turned against us?

Re:This ought to be good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33096896)

Maybe not, but it might have caused John Henry to engage Skynet in a tryst, thereby preventing the future apocalypse through inaction.

I bet a fan-fiction author has already written this story in gushing detail.

RIP little buddy (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33096320)

Sad that people are taking so little notice. The two rovers may be the greatest achievement of mankind to date. Lasting this long is beyond heroic. They may be robots but they have both shown a stubborn determination that is impressive for man or machine. He'll be missed and I think we all wish his brother well. They'll be decades going over the data generated but the two lonely robots, one now apparently sleeping for all time.

Re:RIP little buddy (1)

regularstranger (1074000) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096532)

I'm not qualified to determine what is the greatest achievement of mankind to date is, but my vote wouldn't be these rovers. They are a great achievement regardless, and at the level of these rovers, it seems silly to try to rank achievements. Walking on the moon certainly had a greater emotional impact for the average person than this, but knowledge gained from projects such as Hubble, Pioneer, Voyager, Viking, and Kepler is considerable, and current and future missions similar to these projects, to me, seem to be working the margins. Granted there is a lot of margin left for exploration of destinations investigated by previous programs. The rovers and orbiters of Mars have been outstanding. I'm looking forward to the launch of Curiosity. I hope everything goes well. Landing a 2000 lb. object safely on Mars will make for a tense situation for everyone who has an interest.

Re:RIP little buddy (3, Funny)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096554)

The two rovers may be the greatest achievement of mankind to date.

I vote for curry as number one, that's easy. Then it gets a bit harder but I suspect there is a looong list of mankind's achievements ahead of a robot stuck on Mars.

Greatest achievement? no... (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096950)

If I had to rate achievements in space exploration, the greatest would still be putting men on the moon.

First, because it was done in less than ten years after the project started.

Second, because it has never been repeated since 1972.

Third, because technology was more primitive. No carbon fiber and many other structural materials developed since then, very primitive computers.

And last but not least, because it came before the Mars landings. The technology developed for landing on the Moon was fundamental for a lot of that used for landing on Mars,

The Cold War was the main incentive to invest in the Space Race of the 1960s, so progress has slowed down almost to a crawl since then, but there's no denying that going to the Moon was an achievement rivaled by very few others in the history of technology.

Re:RIP little buddy (5, Insightful)

dtml-try MyNick (453562) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097210)

Wish I could mod you up 10 times.

The majority of people haven't got the slightest idea that A: these robots even exist and B: even if they do what kind of achievement it is.
The scale and precision of this operation is mindboggling.

The distances, the numerous variables and sensitivities involved is something that I, as just a layman, can't even begin to comprehend.

But I can sit back, read and watch about it and for once be proud of the human race. Be in awe what good and positive things, however hard they might be, we as humans can accomplish if we really set our minds to it.

Longer than expected (1)

kamukwam (652361) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096326)

Although this news is of course potentially bad news, the lifetime of the Spirit robot exceeded all expectations. I think the original programme was more in the order of months than the years it has been successfully transmitting data now.

Everyone knew that this moment was going to come, so I bet the people working with the robot will be sad, but have planned something new in their lives. Next year for example, NASA is going to launch another Mars rover.

I should have such ill-fate (5, Insightful)

sphealey (2855) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096346)

> "After repeated calls from NASA to wake up Mars Exploration Rover
> Spirit from its low-energy hibernation mode, mission control is beginning
> to realize the ill-fated robot may never wake up again.

I would wish to have such ill-fate as exceeding my predicted lifetime by a factor of 10x and accomplishing 20x more than believed possible within that lifetime.

sPh

Re:I should have such ill-fate (1, Insightful)

kamukwam (652361) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096370)

I guess that is the way to create a success-story. Just have very low expectations and it will always exceed expectations. I don't know if NASA did it on purpose, but it has played out very well, these robots.

Re:I should have such ill-fate (2)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096882)

A pessimist is never disappointed..

I do believe the 90 days was the minimum expected lifetime...

Re:I should have such ill-fate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33097002)

Dude, low expectations? You know we're talking about a robot on another planet, don't you? Have you ever built a remote controlled toy with batteries? Did they last several years while being charged every day, exposed to an environment with huge temperature differences? Have you driven an RC car on a beach without any hope of picking it up when it gets stuck? How do you imagine a solar cell in a desert would look like after years of sand storms when you can't clean it? Low expectations, pfffff

Re:I should have such ill-fate (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097698)

I would wish to have such ill-fate as exceeding my predicted lifetime by a factor of 10x and accomplishing 20x more than believed possible within that lifetime.

I'm sure it's somehow possible with Emacs.

It was inevitable. (1)

Just_Say_Duhhh (1318603) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096362)

The rovers weren't made to last forever! They have far-exceeded their design life, and have given us a lot of data to help decide our next step in the conquest of Mars.

I think we can raise a glass and toast the team for a job well done. If only all NASA missions were this successful, we'd have nothing to complain about!

Re:It was inevitable. (3, Funny)

nschubach (922175) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096606)

Those Martians never stood a chance.

Re:It was inevitable. (2, Insightful)

oddaddresstrap (702574) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096874)

If only all NASA missions were this successful
If they were all successful, it would mean we weren't pushing the envelope, weren't making mistakes and weren't learning from them.

Awwwww... (1, Offtopic)

Dee Ann_1 (1731324) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096364)

>> "Related xkcd strip, in case the headline wasn't anthropomorphic enough for you."

Poor baby.... :-(

I feel sad for the poor little thing. I hope one day someone can go rescue all these poor little waifs that we abandon on alien worlds..

Re:Awwwww... (0, Offtopic)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096388)

Is it wrong that that comic makes me want to cry? It's a freakin' robot, but I feel like its my own kid or something!

Re:Awwwww... (2, Informative)

Dee Ann_1 (1731324) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096434)

It ~did~ make me cry...

Re:Awwwww... (4, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096438)

For that reason, one of the best XKCD strips ever. Not every comic is gold, but this one is pure gold on a number of levels.

the re-write (4, Funny)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096710)

Someone re-captioned it, and Randall Munroe is hosting it [xkcd.com] .

I think they both work.

Re:Awwwww... (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096442)

Is it wrong that that comic makes me want to cry?

No, you're just crazy [youtube.com] .

Re:Awwwww... (1)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096482)

I got some dust in my eye while reading it.

Re:Awwwww... (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097402)

That's Randall for you. There are more comics like that of his -- at least for me.

Re:Awwwww... (1)

Third Position (1725934) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096398)

Somehow, reading that comic, I was reminded of the relationship between humans and their gods......

Re:Awwwww... (1)

freeman-sr (1842222) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096462)

Nah. Somebody will pick it up someday just to have it exposed in a museum, unless it get hit by a meteor or such of course.

Re:Awwwww... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33096698)

Then you definitely don't want to read this comic [donmai.us] about the Hayabusa probe. XKCD ain't got nutin' on Japan for anthropomorphising inanimate objects.

Re:Awwwww... (2, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097276)

I hope one day someone can go rescue all these poor little waifs

Wasn't it in Total Recall where one of the shots zoomed past one of the rovers on Mars on its way to zoom in on one of the complexes there... complete with a plaque or something beside it?

I'd think if we ever were going to go to mars and bring back samples etc, that thing deserves some space in the trunk. I'd love to see it in a museum here, it's so much more than just history.

"ill-fated?" (4, Insightful)

Joehonkie (665142) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096404)

I don't think "ill-fated" is a term you would use for something that performed far beyond expectations.

Re:"ill-fated?" (1)

Reilaos (1544173) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096548)

My general methods for outperforming expectation are to ensure low ones to begin with. How certain are we that the same did not happen here?

Re:"ill-fated?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33096682)

Instead of judging its performance based on the original 90-days expectation, you could instead look at the number of obstacles and crises it did overcome. Or are you not aware of those? Alternatively, you could try to learn just why this was the planned estimation. I don't have any factual info on that part. :(

I know that 90 days doesn't seem like long, but realize one thing: It's on fucking Mars! Get some perspective! Please!

Re:"ill-fated?" (2, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096798)

One of the biggest problems with any such mission is the radiation levels. Even space-hardened chips can't survive indefinitely, Mars offers no serious protection and a Rover can't carry a whole lot of shielding. Another problem, peculiar to Mars, is its infamous dust devils - which, if I understand correctly, are about the size of Earthly hurricanes and pack the punch of a tornado crossed with a sandblaster.

Re:"ill-fated?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33097432)

You're confusing dust devils with sandstorms. The dust devils are tiny little tornado like things (have been pictured in the background of some rover shots) but are not super powerful (in fact they've been credited as the possible reasons the rover solar panels have remained less than dust covered). Martian sandstorms, on the other hand, often cover huge chunks of the planet (25% or more).

Re:"ill-fated?" (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096986)

The fact that they made it a year wasn't that big a deal. People throw around the 'designed for 90 days' thing, but they leave out the part where they were designed to almost certainly survive 90 days, which by human methods means making everything a lot more robust than you thing will be necessary to make it 90 days (and you can rest assured that they weren't figuring out how to pay for day 91 of the ground operations on day 89...).

That they have made it for several years seems pretty neat to me.

Die in my sleep (3, Insightful)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096456)

Can't think of a better way to go...

R.I.P.

Re:Die in my sleep (1)

Urkki (668283) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097524)

Can't think of a better way to go...

R.I.P.

Heart attack while having casual sex with a stranger?

Manually detonating a nuclear device on an asteroid in Earth collision course, thus saving humanity from extinction?

Blasted away by frickin' sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their frickin' heads?

I'm not saying dying while sleeping is bad, but it's certainly not the best way to go.

Re:Die in my sleep (2, Funny)

KlaymenDK (713149) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097688)

When I die, I'd like to go peacefully in my sleep, like grandpa.

Not screaming and panicking, like his passengers. (badum-tish)

Duh... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33096464)

Use Opportunity to jostle Spirit toward the sun again.

Thanks, I'll be consulting for NASA all week!

Human nature (4, Insightful)

PinkyGigglebrain (730753) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096466)

I was involved with this project when the rovers where still being built. When you build or are otherwise involved in something you really believe in like this you can't help anthropomorphizing them.

To most its just a machine, a worthless hunk of metal, but to those who put there hearts and souls into this program those rovers are almost as precious as children. Its part of human nature to imbue objects with an identity, a soul, just look at how people treat cars, plans, boats, etc..

Sprite and Opportunity carried more than just a bunch of electronics to Mars, they carried the dreams and hopes of all those who choose join it in its journey.

To those, like myself, who consider the rovers to be more than the sum of their parts it will be a very sad day when Sprite is officially listed as dead. And to those who would laugh at us because they can't care for anything beyond themselves or limit their love to only humans, I pity you.

Re:Human nature (2, Funny)

_Stryker (15742) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096504)

Ummm, isn't it named Spirit, not Sprite? Are you sure you were really involved with this project when they were "still being built"?

Re:Human nature (3, Funny)

PinkyGigglebrain (730753) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096608)

Whoops! My bad.

I am going to get (deservedly) ripped for this aren't I?

I plead diminished capacity, I was only on my first cup of coffee.

Re:Human nature (1)

jd (1658) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096718)

That's what you get for using decaf. Me, I say tea is better than coffee anyway. But since I come from the same country as Monty Python, this may not reflect well on my sanity.

Re:Human nature (0, Offtopic)

PinkyGigglebrain (730753) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096878)

My preference is Earl Grey, and for the same reason. But I share a place with a coffee drinker, with limited counter space its not practical to have both a kettle and coffee pot out at the same time. Had enough trouble getting room to keep my stand mixer out, so I drink a lot of coffee.

Re:Human nature (1)

ModernGeek (601932) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097914)

I'm just glad that I'm not the only person who gets attached to the things I've created. *whew* From the Earth to the Moon Episode 5.

Re:Human nature (2, Funny)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096568)

Apparently you weren't there when they renamed the rovers after the soft-drink advertising fell through. Someone managed to save costs though and only redo the lettering just a little bit.

Re:Human nature (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096946)

...as precious as children [memory-alpha.org] ... yes

reasoning for wheels (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096970)

What was their main reasoning for adopting wheels over tracks, given they knew about the terrain in advance?

Re:reasoning for wheels (3, Informative)

PinkyGigglebrain (730753) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097202)

I was software. But I did ask someone about that when I was at JPL a few months before they arrived on another job.

In short; to use treads you already have to have wheels. Wheels are more reliable, less total moving parts and are lighter. If a rock or enough sand were to get between the drive wheel and tread it disables the tread. On Earth a tank has the horse power and a crew to deal with it. Ever notice how even modern tanks always carry extra tread links with them?

Tread probably would have prevented Spirit from getting stuck in the sand trap it's in now, but they would have also ended the mission at a much earlier date. Don't forget that Spirit had been dragging one of its wheels even before it became stuck in the sand.

Re:reasoning for wheels (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097594)

Thanks for the reply. I have wondered about this for the longest time.

With that said, the slow speed they move at, etc..I guess I would still doubt they would break a tread, or throw a tread, but I do guess weight limitations were a major part of it, along with keeping the design simpler.

I know around here (I live on a large farm), a small crawler can get in and un-stick a very large wheeled vehicle. Just no comparison with traction.

Re:reasoning for wheels (1)

PinkyGigglebrain (730753) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097678)

Glad to help. It bugged me for years too, lunar buggy, the Russian lunar rover, Sojourner (Pathfinder), all used wheels and I wanted to know why.

For traction and multi terrain ability you can't beat treads, especially if you have the horse power to back them up, but for weight, simplicity and reliability you can't beat wheels.

It was a trade off, weight/reliability won.

I wonder how they would manage a rover for Europa, wheels would be more likely to sink into the snow/ice. Pity I'm not still in contact with anyone at JPL.

Re:Human nature (1)

Slagothor (1156549) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096974)

Amen. Anyone who is not touched by the episode "Spider" for HBO's From The Earth To The Moon, really didn't believe in any project anyways. Me personally, I think that the Grumman team that designed, tested and built the Lunar Modules (LEM) are one of the greatest engineering teams in the history of mankind. I think that the rover team are in a close second. Thank you Spirit, you will go down in history. And I would like to offer this quote from Alan B Shepard: "God speed and good tail winds"

Re:Human nature (2, Interesting)

E-Sabbath (42104) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097608)

One day, it will wake up again. We just need to get physical access. I say we build a museum around each of them.

Re:Human nature (1)

PinkyGigglebrain (730753) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097690)

I'm for that, though I'm probably not going to live long enough to visit it, much less afford the round trip fare.

Sigh! (3, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096486)

Spirit isn't stuck in the sand. It's hung up on a rock. The wheels cannot get any traction.

Re:Sigh! (4, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096712)

Spirit isn't stuck in the sand. It's hung up on a rock. The wheels cannot get any traction.

Partly right, partly wrong. She's hung up on a rock because she got stuck in stand - and attempts to drive out only dug her in deeper until she became hung up on a rock.

Re:Sigh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33096952)

She? It has a gender? Oh God, that must mean it can reproduce. We're fucked!

Opportunity might be male (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33097126)

Do you suppose he will come around from whatever side of the planet he is on and do his duty?

Re:Opportunity might be male (1)

KlaymenDK (713149) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097708)

Har har har. But that's actually been discussed, and discarded. It's a *very* long trek, and in the mean time Spirit would be dead anyway. Sad, in a way.

Re:Sigh! (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097074)

If you look at the photo in TFA you'll see that the wheel on the upper left side is sunk in sand up to the hub, and there's a sand mound behind it. That pretty much satisfies my definition of "stuck in the sand".

If that wheel were sitting on the surface instead of half buried in the sand, like the other wheel is, Spirit would clear that rock.

Disney|PIXAR (4, Funny)

MadGeek007 (1332293) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096510)

Sounds like a plot for a Disney|PIXAR movie. WALL-E meets Sleeping Beauty?

Overclocking (1)

MadGeek007 (1332293) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096536)

As a result, the heaters were able to keep internal temperatures above minus 40 degrees Celsius (which is also minus 40 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale).

Have they tried overclocking?

Forgive me (2, Funny)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096552)

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

Re:Forgive me (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096762)

I'm pretty sure that Dell Tech Support is the first thing NASA tried.

Re:Forgive me (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33097082)

Yah, but now there are 100's of nudes of spirit on the net. Stupid Dell Support.

Re:Forgive me (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097802)

I'm pretty sure that Dell Tech Support is the first thing NASA tried.

Well, that explains why it's SOL.
     

Sand Trap (1)

amentajo (1199437) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096580)

After getting stuck in a sand trap in Gusev Crater and then switching into hibernation in March, rover operators were hopeful that the beached Spirit might yet be saved. Alas, this is looking more and more unlikely.

Grr, I hate sand traps. Whose bright idea was it to put one on Mars?

Did they try whacking at it with a sand wedge?

Should have apt-get update && apt-get dist (1)

mrchilly0 (1809392) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096590)

Must run an older linux kernel...I could never get suspend/hibernate to work either.....

Re:Should have apt-get update && apt-get d (1)

CynicTheHedgehog (261139) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097046)

No worries. It still doesn't work.

It will sleep for 100 years ... (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096634)

Until the hansom rover prince comes by and awakens it with a kiss ....

Oblig. xkcd (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33096690)

http://xkcd.co... oh wait.

Anthropopathic (1)

Blain (264390) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097016)

Morphos=shape or form. Spirit isn't shaped or formed like a human.

Yeah, I know. "Anthropomorphic" has been taken to mean things beyond merely human form, to include behaviors and personalities. But "Anthropopathic" is a perfectly good word that talks about human-like feelings and works quite well almost every place the other one is used.

Re:Anthropopathic - ("oh boy! pedant fight!") (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33097410)

"Anthropopathic" is a splendid word (and fun to say - thank you), however "Anthropomorphic" is not limited to meaning physical shape. Morpheus was the god of dreams. Anthropopathic is subset of Anthropomorphic, and while 'pathic' is 'feelings', it's particularly the feeling subset of 'suffering'.

Or, in pictures: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33097144)

http://xkcd.com/695/

Re:Or, in pictures: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33097160)

best xkcd ever!

best (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33097212)

best xkcd ever!!

Engineering Failure (1)

j_sp_r (656354) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097366)

In retrospect, the Mars rover was build well outside design requirements, making it probably heavier and more expensive than absolutely necessary. Thus it was a design failure.

On the other hand, the 3 month mission length was decided by politicians so the engineers did the good thing, because if it is already there and working the budget for a longer mission will come anyway (for a few million we can extend a billion dollar mission for a few months sounds really good then).

Re:Engineering Failure (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097520)

On the other hand, the 3 month mission length was decided by politicians so the engineers did the good thing, because if it is already there and working the budget for a longer mission will come anyway (for a few million we can extend a billion dollar mission for a few months sounds really good then).

Huh? In projects there is something called a budget. The original budget for MER was $820 million. There are also objectives. [wikipedia.org] It is always a balancing act to whether the budget is large or small enough to accomplish the objectives. Based on the budget and objectives, the mission (not politicians) planned a 3 month mission with two rovers. That is, the scientists and engineers (as well as the bureaucrats) estimated that they accomplish most if not all the objectives in the time (and money) allocated.

In retrospect, the Mars rover was build well outside design requirements, making it probably heavier and more expensive than absolutely necessary. Thus it was a design failure.

What kind of backwards thinking is this? The rovers were over-designed but considering that the rovers cannot be serviced, it is far more prudent to over-design something and not use certain features than to leave out elements only to find out after the fact that they were needed. You'll find that most things that go into outer space are over-designed. In this case when the rovers are on another world and can't be recalled. Based on the budget, objectives, and the Mars environment, engineers designed the rovers in a way to guarantee that the survive long enough to accomplish the mission.

For example, there were lots of concern over the dust blocking the solar panels. Options included dust removal mechanism but these were discarded as not being practical and costing too much weight and space. Another option was not to use panels but powered by another power source like nuclear batteries and nuclear batteries would have given a lifespan of years not months. But then again, $820 million would not have been enough to keep an operation running for years. Thus the engineers decided on making the panels very large calculating that under the worst dust storms the rovers would survive long enough to complete the 3 month mission.

In terms of objectives and cost, the MER project was a success completing most of the objectives. After the 3 months, then came the task of what to do. So NASA/JPL decided to keep everything operational by allocating more money. They could have just shut the operation down but found the money to keep it going through these years.

Re:Engineering Failure (1)

brasselv (1471265) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097596)

In retrospect, the Mars rover was build well outside design requirements, making it probably heavier and more expensive than absolutely necessary. Thus it was a design failure.

Under this same logic, Egyptian pyramids are a total engineering failure, because most likely there was no requirement for them to last 4000+ years.

Re:Engineering Failure (1)

KlaymenDK (713149) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097732)

Under this same logic, Egyptian pyramids are a total engineering failure, because most likely there was no requirement for them to last 4000+ years.

Are you sure? I was under the impression that they built those tombs exactly so that they *would* provide eternal shelter for the bodily remains, which the afterlife-god is somehow still dependent upon.

Re:Engineering Failure (1)

brasselv (1471265) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097860)

Under this same logic, Egyptian pyramids are a total engineering failure, because most likely there was no requirement for them to last 4000+ years.

Are you sure? I was under the impression that they built those tombs exactly so that they *would* provide eternal shelter for the bodily remains, which the afterlife-god is somehow still dependent upon.

Fair point - what I am reasonably sure about, though, is the following.
The ability to contemplate time spans in the order of the thousands years, is a modern one.
I speculate that the idea of *eternity* that an Egyptian could have, probably translates into an engineering requirement of 'some generations'.

renewable resources (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097612)

So much for that wind generated heating system.

Grr, both summary and story are misleading (5, Informative)

ScottMaxwell (108831) | more than 4 years ago | (#33097720)

We never particularly expected to hear from Spirit before this coming October +/- 1 month, making the suggestion that we're "beginning to realize she might never wake up again" more than a little misleading. According to our best models, the energy levels on Mars are just barely reaching the point where Spirit might wake up for even a few minutes a day, and hearing anything from her at this point would be a great stroke of luck. Have patience. She's there.

I understand that NASA is trying to manage expectations, but their way of doing it is bad management that needlessly demoralizes the team. My own personal expectation is that we damn well will hear from Spirit, and after a certain recovery period she'll be moving on Mars again.

everyone on Slashdot please clap their hands (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#33098096)

"We believe in Spirit"
"We believe in Spirit"
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