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Thick Dust Alters NASA Mars Rover Plans

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the mars-wants-clear-weather! dept.

NASA 97

coondoggie writes "NASA's long-running Mars rover Opportunity is getting ready for the harsh Martian winter, but this year for the first time in its nearly eight-year history it needs a sunnier location to continue its work. NASA said the rover, which depends on solar power for energy, is sitting just south of Mars' equator and has worked through four Martian southern hemisphere winters. Being closer to the equator than its now defunct twin rover, Spirit, Opportunity has not needed to stay on a Sun-facing slope during previous winters but now its solar panels carry a thicker coating of Martian dust than before."

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Windshield wipers (4, Interesting)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38604700)

Windshield wipers! My kingdom for windshield wipers!

A good guess is that, going forward, all new Mars landers will have either a wiper system or the ability to compress Martian atmosphere and then go POOF on the solar panels. Yes, more weight, but when the payoff is potentially many more functional months of service, it'd be worth it.

Re:Windshield wipers (4, Informative)

f97tosc (578893) | more than 2 years ago | (#38604726)

A good guess is that, going forward, all new Mars landers will have either a wiper system or the ability to compress Martian atmosphere ...

The new rover Curiosity currently en route to Mars has nuclear power.

Re:Windshield wipers (5, Funny)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38604758)

Then the windshield wipers should work really well.

Re:Windshield wipers (5, Funny)

KendyForTheState (686496) | more than 2 years ago | (#38604932)

Whoa! Nuclear powered windshield wipers! How cool is that?

Re:Windshield wipers (5, Funny)

decep (137319) | more than 2 years ago | (#38604954)

One wonders why they did not just use the nuclear power for the rest of the rover.

Re:Windshield wipers (1)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38605198)

The windshield wipers flap REALLY FAST, thus providing motive force.

Re:Windshield wipers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38606094)

Cause they're running out of the good stuff to blast into space...

Re:Windshield wipers (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607574)

Whoa! Nuclear powered windshield wipers! How cool is that?

That could put an eye out!
         

Re:Windshield wipers (1, Funny)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 2 years ago | (#38609334)

Then the windshield wipers should work really well.

Woosh!

Re:Windshield wipers (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#38604806)

OH NOES!!!! NUKES!!! Evil!!!

Seriously, now... I'm assuming it's an RTG? Or is it some other form of nuke powerplant?

Re:Windshield wipers (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38604946)

yeah, RTG:

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/mission/rover/energy/
http://www.ne.doe.gov/pdfFiles/MMRTG_Jan2008.pdf

Re:Windshield wipers (4, Funny)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | more than 2 years ago | (#38604964)

OH NOES!!!! NUKES!!! Evil!!!

It's okay. Mars is the definition of "Not In My Back Yard," so Earthlings are all for it. And if the little grey dudes wanted us to stick to solar, they should have just blown the dust off the previous rovers.

Re:Windshield wipers (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38604988)

Martians are green, you insensitive clod!

Re:Windshield wipers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38605638)

No they are grey! Haven't you seen Apollo 18?

Re:Windshield wipers (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 2 years ago | (#38606296)

Forgive my ignorance, as I haven't, but.. wasn't that the moon?

Re:Windshield wipers (1)

daid303 (843777) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608454)

"Mars attacks"

Re:Windshield wipers (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38609876)

Haven't you seen Apollo 18?

No, I was waiting for 14 through 17 so that I wouldn't have to worry about big late arrival spoilers [tvtropes.org] in 18.

Re:Windshield wipers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38609632)

That was before the dust settled.

Re:Windshield wipers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608324)

they have a deal to sell the power plant to the Iranian nuclear project.

Re:Windshield wipers (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38605124)

RTG is a pretty safe bet. It'd be rather more noteworthy if they send a fully functional plant with staff to operate it.

Re:Windshield wipers (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#38605656)

Other forms are far too heavy, plus it really goesn't need gigawatts.

Re:Windshield wipers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38605082)

So periodically heating the panels to melt the sand into clear glass, then using the robotic arm with a buffer attachment to polish each new layer?

Re:Windshield wipers (2)

BeShaMo (996745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38606098)

That's convenient. If we find life there, then we can terminate it immediately with extreme prejudice.

Re:Windshield wipers (1)

jafac (1449) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614342)

Thinking about this: The old rovers were not designed to operate as long as they have. The mission was intended to go for only a few months, if I recall correctly. I think that the operators were surprised that they survived the first martian winter, and knew that dust build-up was going to be a problem for solar power generation.

Nuclear power, however, has a known and predictable lifespan. Curiosity's going to definitely run out of RTG power at some known point in time: X. And that's it. Mission's over. Period.

It is possible that Opportunity will still be rolling, and will roll over Curiosity's faintly radioactive grave. I hope so.

Re:Windshield wipers (4, Funny)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38604796)

I would imagine someone at NASA thought of that, but since they lacked an engineering degree, they were swiftly beaten with cudgels...

NASA Engineers: "There we go, fellas, the rover's done! Nothing to do now but stick it on a billion dollar rocket and send 'er off into space! Just have to hope it doesn't get too dusty too fast."

NASA Janitor, passing by: "Uh... couldn't you just stick, I dunno, some windshield wipers or somethin' on it?"

NASA Engineers: ...
:O
...
:|
...
:O
...
>:*
...
*thump*

Re:Windshield wipers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38612334)

I would imagine someone at NASA thought of that, but since they lacked an engineering degree, they were swiftly beaten with cudgels...

I would imagine you are horribly wrong. Of course they considered all sorts of things. Wipers is just plain stupid. Sadly, most people aren't smart enough to understand why.

Re:Windshield wipers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38604846)

Forget compressed air, what about spinning the panels... wouldn't the air pressure clean them? I mean the panels can be rotated already no? Otherwise you don't even need windshield wipers, just a brush going over the panel once every few weeks...

Re:Windshield wipers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38604914)

Otherwise you don't even need windshield wipers, just a brush going over the panel once every few weeks...

What do you think windshield wipers are?

Re:Windshield wipers (4, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38606092)

I mean the panels can be rotated already no? Otherwise you don't even need windshield wipers, just a brush going over the panel once every few weeks...

No, the panels are fixed in position. They were folded during the flight and were spring loaded to unfold. Once deployed, they were locked into position. Also, since the rovers were only meant to last for 90 days, the extra complexity of a wiper or blower (or my favorite, a spool of cellophane, like an overhead projector) was deemed unnecessary.

Re:Windshield wipers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38606526)

the mission was supposed to be for a few months not a few years people. If designed every car to last 3 months and it lasted this long every car company in the world would be out of business.

Re:Windshield wipers (2)

thunderclap (972782) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607156)

You say that like its a bad thing.

Re:Windshield wipers (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#38606372)

    So you're saying, instead of blowing air across the panels, you move the panels fast through the air... Brilliant. Except...

    Have you ever driven a car that's been parked for a long time, and the windshield has gotten very dusty? If you haven't, and you've only cleared a spot to see from, you'll notice the rest of the windshield is dusty. Now if you were to drive at say 55mph for as long as you'd like, when yous top again the windshield will still be dusty. Well, assuming no rain, fog, etc..

    The only difference between a windshield wiper, and a brush, would be what it's made of. A rubber blade will break down rapidly enough for it to be a poor choice. That's pretty much like trying to use the wipers on the same car that was parked for years outside and got dusty. It'll make some horrible noises, and not make it much cleaner. It also may cause some pretty severe scratching as it shoves an abrasive between the blade and the glass.

    The brush, sure, that's a good idea. It can also lead to scratching, but probably not as bad. Walmart sells some pretty cheap ones that would have done the job nicely. I don't seem to remember a label on them saying "certified for use on martian soil" though.

    Some of the best ideas always come during or after after the mission [nasa.gov] . Too bad there's no one there with a, broom, and duct tape.

   

Re:Windshield wipers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38607588)

    So you're saying, instead of blowing air across the panels, you move the panels fast through the air... Brilliant. Except...

    Have you ever driven a car that's been parked for a long time, and the windshield has gotten very dusty? If you haven't, and you've only cleared a spot to see from, you'll notice the rest of the windshield is dusty. Now if you were to drive at say 55mph for as long as you'd like, when yous top again the windshield will still be dusty. Well, assuming no rain, fog, etc..

    The only difference between a windshield wiper, and a brush, would be what it's made of. A rubber blade will break down rapidly enough for it to be a poor choice. That's pretty much like trying to use the wipers on the same car that was parked for years outside and got dusty. It'll make some horrible noises, and not make it much cleaner. It also may cause some pretty severe scratching as it shoves an abrasive between the blade and the glass.

    The brush, sure, that's a good idea. It can also lead to scratching, but probably not as bad. Walmart sells some pretty cheap ones that would have done the job nicely. I don't seem to remember a label on them saying "certified for use on martian soil" though.

    Some of the best ideas always come during or after after the mission [nasa.gov] . Too bad there's no one there with a, broom, and duct tape.

 

Swifter !

Re:Windshield wipers (5, Informative)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | more than 2 years ago | (#38604880)

They thought of all these solutions, and in the end it just made more sense to make the solar panels larger than do anything complicated.

Don't forget these rovers were designed for a 90 day mission.

Re:Windshield wipers (-1, Flamebait)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38605096)

then every day afterwards we should just shit our pants because their planned obsolescence failed and we cant waste another billion dollars on a 90 day toy

Re:Windshield wipers (1)

rasmusbr (2186518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38605176)

Like someone pointed out below they didn't know that certain wind conditions (basically dust devils) would clean the solar panels periodically. Had they know that I think they might have designed the rovers to last 900 days. NASA made a big PR number about how the solar panels would run out in a few months, which they then didn't thanks to the dust devils.

Now, I wonder if it's possible to make the cleaning events more effective, for example by coating the solar panels with a slippery coating, or by tilting them slightly downwards to make them a bigger target for horizontal winds.

Re:Windshield wipers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38606780)

If they had actually been designed for a 90 day mission they were criminally overdesigned. More likely they designed them for 1+ years and set the bar for media success nice and low.

Re:Windshield wipers (2)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 2 years ago | (#38609050)

There is no such thing as criminally overdesigned. The only type of design that is downright criminal is planned obsolesence.

design life vs actual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38610288)

"criminal"? I think that's a bit strong. Here's how it really happens.. The mission sets a success criteria: operate for 90 sols with some percentage probability (99.9% or something). Now, take the list of several thousand parts, each of which has some failure probability over a given time span (usually reckoned in FITs.. Failures in Time, or failures per billion hours of operation). Look at parts where you have design alternatives (do we use part A which weighs 1 kg and will last 5E8 hours, or part B which weighs 500g but only lasts 1E6 hours)? Trade off all the mass, power, cost alternatives to fit in the various budgets..

Assemble
Ship
Shoot
Pray

Odds are, it will last a bit longer, or a lot longer, than you thought. But also, consider that distribution... you had 99.9 for 90 days, and 50% for 3 years or something like that.

And, add to that the fact that for a lot of the decisions, there's no real experience to go look at. It's not like car tires, where you make millions, and you've got lots of data points to build the distribution. Yep, when they built those rovers, there were a whole lot of rovers to look at for life data, as in NONE.

Re:Windshield wipers (1)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607256)

Why not take the easier option and drive the damn thing through one of the canals and get the water to wash it off.
Simple!

Dust Devils (5, Informative)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38604882)

It's my understanding that dust devils [astronomy.com] have done a pretty good job of keeping the solar panels clean over the years.

Re:Dust Devils (2)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607600)

Their timing is not very reliable, however.

Re:Dust Devils (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38613400)

Unlike the homeless at a busy intersection.

Re:Windshield wipers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38604912)

I came here to ask why the hell they didn't put windshield wipers on the damn thing and saw windshield wipers as the first comment. I'd give you an upvote but I neither have an account nor is this reddit.

Re:Windshield wipers (5, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38604982)

Many options were considered, none found effective and reliable against the fine, dry dust on Mars. In fact that was the whole reason the original mission was limited to three months, if they knew a good way to remove it they would have. Luckily winds clear the panels from time to time, the weather hasn't helped recently but it's still running after 8 years and tilting towards the sun is no big deal. Why would you bother to change a design that works so well? Maybe give it a slightly bigger solar panel so it has a bit better margins but overall there's no reason to change it. By the way, how many times do you think this exact suggestion has come up over the last 8 years?

Re:Windshield wipers (-1, Flamebait)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38605112)

yea that sounds about right, its a bit too hard so fuck it, that just means we can use this planned obsolescence to spend more money and time making another one

Re:Windshield wipers (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38605118)

I've accidentally switched on the car wipers when there was dust on the windshield a few times, and often it made the problem worse by compressing the dust more tightly against the windshield allowing more layers to settle. Without having sample Mars dust to test, it's hard to know what the result would be.

The dust-devil experience suggests that compressed air may be a better option, or at least the most tested one.

Anyhow, the next rover is "nuclear" powered so such studies are a non-issue for a while.

Re:Windshield wipers (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38605170)

Many options were considered, none found effective and reliable against the fine, dry dust on Mars. In fact that was the whole reason the original mission was limited to three months, if they knew a good way to remove it they would have.

I find that hard to believe. There must be a half dozen good ways to do it. Just off the top of my head 3-4 transparent disposable sheets of film, perhaps with a drop or two of oil or alcohol between them to prevent sticking, would limit sunlight a little bit initially, but as they became worn could be discarded, restoring the surface to "good as new". You'd have to ensure little enough lubricant between the sheets so that when the new layer is revealed dust doesn't stick to them, but I can't imagine that's an insurmountable problem.

Re:Windshield wipers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38605450)

Armchair, meet general.

Re:Windshield wipers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38605486)

You find it hard to believe they tried lots of options, then went with one in the end?(that turned out to be a fantastic decision for unforeseen reasons)

Well, that's stupid.

Re:Windshield wipers (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 2 years ago | (#38605614)

perhaps with a drop or two of oil or alcohol between the

That's thinking in Earth terms. This thing was in hard vacuum for more than a year.

Re:Windshield wipers (4, Informative)

agrif (960591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38605680)

I believe one of the major problems is that dust on Mars can become very, very fine. There's no rain to clear dust from the atmosphere, so the little grains just keep hitting things and breaking apart, over and over. Martian fines can get down near 1 micron; for comparison, your red blood cells are about 8 microns wide. This stuff gets on everything. It goes through everything.

Re:Windshield wipers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38610592)

Exactly. I used to work with one of engineers and the argument against all these ideas was how fine Martian dust is. Basically they realized that either a blower or a wiper would quite likely harm the solar panels more than get the dust off. Doesn't make much sense to sent a rover millions of miles just to sandblast its solar panels.

Re:Windshield wipers (1)

stevelinton (4044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38613134)

As I understand it calling it dust is technically a misnomer. Experts use the term "fines". Calling this stuff dust is like called fine talc gravel, except worse.

Re:Windshield wipers (1)

aXis100 (690904) | more than 2 years ago | (#38606208)

They use these motocross motorbikes goggles, and they work well. Sometimes a roller at each end so you can spool out a new section of clear film, other times they are just a stack of films.

Re:Windshield wipers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38617124)

And how would you dispose of that sheet without adding more complexity than a wiper system? NASA doesn't hire engineers with an associates degree from your local community college.

Re:Windshield wipers (3, Interesting)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38605716)

One would think it would be like removing the extremely fine dust from an LP.

Back in the day, there was this thing called an "Ion Gun".
(Example product) [lptunes.com]

It basically compresses and slightly ionizes atmospheric gas, then directs it at the surface to be cleaned. The electrical charge in the gas causes the dust to be electrostatically repelled from the surface, and the forced air blows it off.

Surely such a toy could be attached to one of the arms of future solar powered rovers for periodic cleaning purposes, and even possibly for electrochemical experiments?

Re:Windshield wipers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38607450)

The problem with this is that the dust on mars is mostly iron oxide. So any if you polarize the surface it will actually increase the amount of dust collecting on the panels.

Re:Windshield wipers (2)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608204)

The ion gun cited charges one way, then the other to neutralize the surface. Ionic charge only persists a second or two.

Eg, it fires negative ions as the trigger is pulled, then releases positive ions as the trigger is released.

Persistent charge on an LP also promotes rapid resoiling, which is why commerical cleaning guns like this neutralize the charge after blowing the dust off.

Re:Windshield wipers (2)

drwho (4190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38610850)

Yes, I am in agreement. People at NASA are not, on the whole, stupid, though unfortunately NASA can be made to look stupid because of the political and economic conditions it has to work under. Often people point out the oft-repeated fable about NASA spending millions of dollars to develop a space pen whereas the Soviets just used pencils. It's a lot more complicated than that, see Snopes http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp for an explanation. Too often slashdotters, and Americans in general, scoff at professionals and give undue credit to 'common sense'. Replies to this article, regarding windshield-wipers, are a good example. But luckily there are some replies to the replies which are intelligent.

That being said, I would assume that they'd use an RTG (radioisotope thermal generator) if the projected lifetime of the rest of the mars rover called for it. Of course, maybe they were restrained by the anti-nuke sentiment which has infected so much of our culture.

In any case, the Mas rover has been extraordinarily successful. Now, I wish we could do as well with Venus.

Re:Windshield wipers (2)

twotacocombo (1529393) | more than 2 years ago | (#38605018)

If they had expected to run these units as long as they did, I'm sure they would have already put them on there. They only banked on ~90 days, so there was no perceived need for this kind of thing. Right now, they're running on extended bonus time.

Re:Windshield wipers (1, Insightful)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38605120)

lol, how did people miss this? We've known mars has storms since we got decent telescopes.

Re:Windshield wipers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38605214)

Damn, where are those bums at the stop lights when you need them?

Re:Windshield wipers (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 2 years ago | (#38605748)

That could end up scratching the solar panel surface.

Re:Windshield wipers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38605774)

Are you telling me NASA spent like 4 billion dollars on this thing, and they forgot to install the windshield wipers??

Re:Windshield wipers (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38606390)

And scratch them? Seriously? There is little moisture there. And the wind is thin. In addition, the dirt is sticking, so you would need water to make it come off. However, rather than wipers, a small air pump that can blow high pressure air over the surface.

Re:Windshield wipers (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607094)

In hungarian; "I will not buy this solar panel; it is scratched."

Re:Windshield wipers (2)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607274)

Nem fogom megvenni ezt a napelem, mert karcos.

Re:Windshield wipers (1)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617270)

To Moderators. I called laejoh's bluff. I think his comment was a Monty Python reference about the Hungarian-English phrasebook sketch. BTW, there was no Hungarian actually spoken during the sketch.

Re:Windshield wipers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608046)

Windshield wipers! My kingdom for windshield wipers!

What about a self-cleaning glass coating on the solar arrays?

I'm sure I read an article here, not too long ago, about the invention of the world's next slipperiest substance. A coating of that surely has to be lighter than a few KG of windscreen wiper motors and compressed gas tanks?

Re:Windshield wipers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38609428)

I think the reasoning for not including such a simple feature was they never dared hope that the rover would last so long that dust accumulation would become an issue. They assumed that the rovers would have succumbed to some other fault by now. While the initial mission durations were of course obscenely short to cover NASA buts, I don't think even the most optimistic scientist believed that Opportunity would have lasted as long as it has.

Re:Windshield wipers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611624)

Or they'll just go nuclear with RTG's. That way they can rove for 30 years barring mechanical failures.

Re:Windshield wipers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38620442)

[...] going forward [...]

PHB much?

Get Jony Ive on it! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38604738)

If only the rovers had a smart cover, they could turn on and as you open it and it cleans the solar panels from finger prints every time! Martian finger prints in this case.

If only it could take a bath (1)

znigelz (2005916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38604800)

If it ever found water

Re:If only it could take a bath (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38605136)

Like a "meteor shower"? Ouch!

Paging K'Breel!!! (2)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#38604818)

Our gelsacs hunger for the words of the mighty K'Breel on the battle against the invaders from the blue world.

Better Late-Breaking News Than Never! (5, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38605780)

K'Breel, Speaker for the Council, was on his way from a late (as opposed to late-breaking) Council Meeting to his domicile, where he intended to consume nutrients. While exiting the Council Hall, an enthusiastic Citizen beseeched him thus:

Our gelsacs hunger for the words of the mighty K'Breel on the battle against the invaders from the blue world.

Always willing to place the needs of his Citizens before his own, the Speaker replied: "What more needs be said? One invader lies immobile and frozen in the plains. A second lies buried in a slowly-accumulating layer of carbox at the northern pole, a third never left the blue world's gravity well and spirals ever inward to a fiery doom (our analysts suggest a 75% probability of any surviving parts being condemned to dissolve in the toxic blue soup!), and although a fourth may have recently escaped the blue world's gravity well, it is destined to spend the next season squarely in the crosshairs of our Orbital Defense Forces, and yet you still require a progress report against this - this last struggling holdout?"

"Let me reassure you personally, dear Citizen: as surely as dust continues to be distributed over the invader's solar panels, the Council sees no crisis, and barely an Opportunity. But even the dimmest of opportunities is worth seizing!"

~``~ideo~`ransmission fr`m news ~eport~~`~`hecksum mismatc~~``~~``

Having delayed a hungry Speaker from his return home after a Council meeting, it is reported that the equally hungry gelsacs of enthusiastic citizen #64226 were seized, freeze-dried, ground into powder, and then tossed into the winds as part of the DDoS (Distributed Dusting of Solarpanels) attack still being conducted by our brave forces against the remaining invader at Devaur's End.

"A shining example to all who live on our fair world, this enthusiastic Citizen took advantage of a rare Opportunity to take the battle directly to the enemy, and he shall be remembered fondly! EVER ONWARD TO VICTORY!" (Oh, and thank you for the excuse, Citizen. Don't worry too much. Sometimes they grow back!)

Re:Better Late-Breaking News Than Never! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608440)

-1 Bored Now.

ugg splogs (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38604822)

why are we reading stories about Nasa on some shitty "network" splog laden with adverts ?

we should be reading about this on Nasa's site the internet was supposed to cut out the middleman instead its full of shitty sites who do nothing but take without giving anything back.

news for nerds ? news for desperate blog owners

Re:ugg splogs (2)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 2 years ago | (#38605274)

And for pointing out the truth that we could be reading about this story from the source - NASA - instead of a site you correctly characterize as a money-grubbing, ad-laden blog filled with 3rd hand information, you get modded "troll" in typical Slashdot style.

Bravo.

Re:ugg splogs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38606860)

You know that you're reading this on a middleman website, yes?

I do make a point of always linking directly to the source when I post a story. It ought to be editor policy to rewrite links to post to the correct place...

Re:ugg splogs (1)

McGruber (1417641) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608590)

why are we reading stories about Nasa on some shitty "network" splog laden with adverts ?

Because we want to slashdot the shitty "network" splog, not NASA!

Thanks for pointing out that the splog was laden with adverts. Most of us wouldn't have noticed.

How does this affect my real estate values? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38604920)

I'm building a Wal Mart and a few bungalows next to Elon Musk's Martian Mansion. The invisible hand of the free market will get us to Mars in a few years thanks to spider-silk space elevators.

Well, if we had a manned Mars mission . . . (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38604974)

. . . we could send someone up to dust them off, right?

"Check your oil for you, sir? That left front tire could use a bit of air . . . "

Now I remember why we used to call them "service stations" instead of "gas stations" . . .

Re:Well, if we had a manned Mars mission . . . (3, Funny)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#38605202)

. . . we could send someone up to dust them off, right?

"Check your oil for you, sir? That left front tire could use a bit of air . . . "

Now I remember why we used to call them "service stations" instead of "gas stations" . . .

Really? I figured they once had hookers or something...

Re:Well, if we had a manned Mars mission . . . (2)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38605504)

You're thinking of truck stops. ;-)

Gee (-1, Troll)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38605072)

to think of all the time and money put into this thing they could have added a couple tracks, an extra motor and a fucking squeegee

The Plan has Been Altered (1)

wideBlueSkies (618979) | more than 2 years ago | (#38605384)

Pray that they do not alter it further.

Or that it does not have to be altered further.

What if: (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38605502)

What if the martian winds were to un-bury spirit's wheels and make it mobile? Would it start sending data back to earth? Has it ever stopped sending data?
It would be super cool if they were able to get it working again with a little help from the martian environment.

Re:What if: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38605852)

...or use one rover to bulldozer the other out of the trap. Hey, it's roving around for years, I'm sure it can get anywhere on the planet given enough time.

Spirit is dead.. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38606254)

yes, Spirit is not sending data. It either got too cold, or something, but it's gone silent. The folks at JPL spent several months trying to contact it, but no joy.

Re:Spirit is dead.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608386)

it's not dead it's just pinning

Re:What if: (2)

Squidlips (1206004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38612174)

It was not able to run its heaters so critical components (batteries?) were destroyed by the cold. So even if the wheels were uncovered and the remaining dust was removed its solar panels, it would not be functional. Remember that it went through the summer on Mars and got a good dose of solar energy, but it did not even have enough functionality to send out a ack signal on its low-gain antenna, never mind swivel its high-gain antenna. It is totally kaput, alas, but it went way beyond its expected lifetime (realistically its expected lifetime was about a year) and roved for about 6 years. Not only that but it landed in a bad spot (a "basalt prison" at Gusev crater), and was able to claw its way up a local hill and find the long-sought carbonate deposits in addition to other water-borne deposits such as silica.

Duct tape, the real MAN solution! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38607396)

Just roll it across the surface, sticky side down, and remove. Problem solved. Why do they pay NASA engineers millions of dollars to solve a problem that's been solved for the last fifty years?

obligatory XKCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608020)

http://xkcd.com/695/

This is only part of the story (2)

Squidlips (1206004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38609062)

The real story is WHERE Opportunity will be wintering. It has found a nice cozy place with some very interesting rock outcrops. Clay? Sulfates? Who knows but the pictures look very interesting. Another dust issue is that the Min-TES has been disabled by dust. Opportunity could really, really use Mini-TES now in it current location. Another dust issue is what MSL will be doing, if anything, about dust on its instruments.
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