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'Opportunity' Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary Roving Mars

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the looking-for-a-mate dept.

Mars 51

An anonymous reader writes "Ten years ago today, six and half months after launch, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's six-wheeled, solar-powered Opportunity rover landed on the surface of Mars, tumbling into a previously unknown feature now referred to as the 'Eagle Crater'. Opportunity and its twin Rover Spirit, which had arrived three weeks earlier, proceeded to crawl over and through plains, craters, and sand dunes, collecting and analyzing soil and rock samples, and taking panoramic photos of their surroundings, blowing orders of magnitude past the original projected 90 day mission timeframe. Spirit's mission drew to a close after it became irretrievably bogged down in soft soil in 2009; scientists lost contact with the rover in early 2010. Meanwhile, Opportunity is still going strong, with scientists announcing new evidence this past week of an ancient mild watery environment conducive to microbial life. Several web sites have mined the NASA archives to assemble tributes commemorating 10 years of work from Opportunity: Time, space.com, Information Week/Techweb. There's also a bricks-and-mortar tribute; the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC has just opened an exhibit featuring photos sent by the two rovers."

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51 comments

To Those Who Say ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46065927)

To those who say some variation of "American can't build them like they used to", I say "top that!"

10 years of service when built to last 90 days. E.nough.said

Re:To Those Who Say ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46065951)

Oh, they can build them like they used to. Maybe even better.
Problem is, others can build them much, much cheaper.

Re:To Those Who Say ... (2)

amiga3D (567632) | about 3 months ago | (#46065979)

I know that's right. I bought some of that cheap shit too. Now I spend more money and buy stuff that will hold up.

Re:To Those Who Say ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46071603)

As a non-USAian even I have to say STFU.

Could they have done it for less 10 years ago? Highly unlikely. The USA still leads the world in certain fields and this is one of them.

China may be landing rovers on the Moon and more power to them but Opportunity and Curiosity for the win!

Re:To Those Who Say ... (1)

_Ludwig (86077) | about 3 months ago | (#46065975)

That's called "well-managed expectations."

Re:To Those Who Say ... (2)

murdocj (543661) | about 3 months ago | (#46066379)

That's called an amazing job. Show me any other nation on this planet that could do that. 10 YEARS working in an incredibly hostile environment w/o an chance of a repair. No one would claim that up front because no one would possibly believe it.

Re:To Those Who Say ... (2)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 3 months ago | (#46065981)

10 years of service when built to last 90 days.

Thank the Martian winds. The wind blows the dust off of the rovers solar collectors, that wasn't expected.

Re:To Those Who Say ... (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 3 months ago | (#46069857)

To those who say some variation of "American can't build them like they used to", I say "top that!"

10 years of service when built to last 90 days. E.nough.said

Well, We'll see how long Curiosity lasts.

Re:To Those Who Say ... (1)

quenda (644621) | about 3 months ago | (#46070485)

To those who say some variation of "American can't build them like they used to", I say "top that!"

But that was more than 10 years ago. They don't build 'em like that any more.

Super-Ob xkcd. [xkcd.com]

10 Year Anniversary (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about 3 months ago | (#46065959)

I've noticed that "everybody" says it this way nowadays. Why don't people just say "tenth anniversary" anymore?

Re:10 Year Anniversary (5, Interesting)

Somebody Is Using My (985418) | about 3 months ago | (#46066097)

Why don't people just say "tenth anniversary" anymore?

Probably because people forgot - or never learned - that the word "anniversary" contains the root "annus", meaning year. Thus, the word has become so degraded that people celebrate things like their "two month anniversary since when we first started dating". Therefore it has become necessary these days to specify how long is each "anniversary".

It drives me nuts too, but you know that if you confront people about it they will just say, "language evolves."

Re:10 Year Anniversary (2)

Kjella (173770) | about 3 months ago | (#46066331)

It drives me nuts too, but you know that if you confront people about it they will just say, "language evolves."

And much like evolution there's no direction towards a "higher" lifeform, there's just selection pressure. For example, they say the inuits have so many words for snow. Well, perhaps other people who rarely see snow don't need half a dictionary of snow forms. Maybe they want to use adjectives like dry snow, wet snow, light snow, heavy snow, powdery snow since the words dry, wet, light, heavy, powdery can be reused in other contexts. Short words (piracy) tends to win over long words (copyright infringement) but there's a limited number of short non-toungetwister words so they're reused. a bear and to bear are totally different words but you figure it out from context. Compactness, precision, complexity on both the part of both the reader and the writer are opposing forces. Particularly the competence level to education time is critical, Latin might have been very precise between two people who've spent years at university but tourist English is easier when you just want to know the way to the nearest toilet.

Re:10 Year Anniversary (1)

Longjmp (632577) | about 3 months ago | (#46066443)

It is a widespread misconception that Inuit have dozens of names for snow. They don't have significantly more words than plain English.
However their language allows to combine words into a new noun, examples in English would probably work like this:

"snow on ground" -> "groundsnow"
"falling snow" -> "fallsnow"

Re:10 Year Anniversary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46066757)

However their language allows to combine words into a new noun, examples in English would probably work like this:

"snow on ground" -> "groundsnow"

"falling snow" -> "fallsnow"

So you're saying it's pretty much like German?

Re:10 Year Anniversary (1)

umafuckit (2980809) | about 3 months ago | (#46066451)

And much like evolution there's no direction towards a "higher" lifeform, there's just selection pressure. For example, they say the inuits have so many words for snow.

And "they" are wrong [wikipedia.org], it turns out. But on another note, I do agree that, of course, language evolves. What's wrong today becomes accepted usage tomorrow. It's perhaps unfortunate because it muddies the origins of our language, but it's also inevitable. Interestingly, there have been attempts to go the other way and bring back the older usages. For example, the modern Greek Katharevousa [wikipedia.org], "purist", dialect. Which is a marriage of ancient and modern Greek that was invented about 200 years ago and persisted until the mid-twentieth century. It died out because it has no real use and nobody really used it. However it does persist in the church (where else, right?) and a lot of the liturgy is in Katharevousa.

Re:10 Year Anniversary (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 3 months ago | (#46066797)

It's because a 10th anniversary occurs after the passage of 11 years. The first happened at the end of year one. This is the start of the 10th year for Opportunity, its 9th anniversary and 10th year anniversary.

Re:10 Year Anniversary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46066899)

I think your logic wires are mixed up.

Re:10 Year Anniversary (3, Informative)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 3 months ago | (#46066935)

It's because a 10th anniversary occurs after the passage of 11 years.

Maybe in Bizarro World...

The first happened at the end of year one.

Yes, after one year had passed. See how all the numbers are the same?

1st anniversary, end of year one, one year has passed.
10th anniversary, end of year ten, ten years have passed.

This is the start of the 10th year for Opportunity

The start of the first year of Opporunity's Mars journey occurred in January 2004. We're now in January 2014. This is the start of its 1st+10=11th year.

its 9th anniversary and 10th year anniversary.

I think the fourth character of your username needs to be moved back a couple of places.

Re:10 Year Anniversary (1)

Livius (318358) | about 3 months ago | (#46067197)

Ten years ago today means end of ten years and start of the year eleven.

I.e tenth anniversary.

And the original point is valid - using anniversary for things other than turnings of whole years diminishes the significance and meaning of 'anniversary'.

Re:10 Year Anniversary (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 3 months ago | (#46071619)

using anniversary for things other than turnings of whole years diminishes the significance and meaning of 'anniversary'.

I can't think of anyone who wouldn't know exactly what was meant if one said "tenth anniversary." And by co-opting the word - the root of which isn't English, and of which most English speakers are probably unaware in day-to-day conversation - we've now got a quick convenient way of expressing a wider range of passages of time than just years.

It's not like we're losing anything or introducing any real ambiguity, as is the case with "literally" and "begging the question."

If anything, it's a measure of English's efficiency and flexibility that it's expanded in this way instead of inventing "weekiversary" and "monthiversary."

When will it get to the Face on Mars? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46065983)

Does anybody know when it will get to the Face on Mars? This is something truly worth investigating from the ground. They could provide real evidence to show one way or another that it is or is not it is intelligently-made.

Re:When will it get to the Face on Mars? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46066003)

Does anybody know when it will get to the Face on Mars? This is something truly worth investigating from the ground. They could provide real evidence to show one way or another that it is or is not it is intelligently-made.

"The Face" is a trick of light/shadow, no mystery to it anymore.

Re:When will it get to the Face on Mars? (1)

MildlyTangy (3408549) | about 3 months ago | (#46071155)

The hill that makes up the "face on Mars" has been mapped and imaged in 3D from orbit. Its not even remotely face shaped when viewed from all around, it is actually an example of pareidolia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareidolia ) due to the shadows at the time making it look like a face.

Its just one of the many tricks of the brain at work.

Re:When will it get to the Face on Mars? (4, Interesting)

umafuckit (2980809) | about 3 months ago | (#46067151)

It is unfortunate in some ways that you're modded down. This is the evidence [nasa.gov] for why there is no face on Mars: The other side of the coin is that seeing faces where there aren't any is an artefact [wikipedia.org] of how your brain is wired up. Random natural formations (on any scale) stand a better chance than most people think of appearing as a face. This also extends to other objects, however, such as Jesus [skepdic.com], and [photofromtheworld.com] genitals [photobucket.com]. This one [feastoffun.com] is really cool too.

NASA: incredible past, dubious future? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46066007)

NASA has been the preeminent space exploration agency in the whole world for a long time now. Russia and others have sent great probes to Mars, Venus and nearby planets, but NASA has been the only space agency to send probes out of the solar system, to explore Jupiter, Saturn, fly by the Neptune and Uranus, and now sending a mission to Pluto. They've done incredible things with a limited budget. They made the first space telescope, the first Mars rovers, and so much more.

But given the massive investments China is making in space, and the political turmoils and budget problems going on in the US, I think in 20, 30, years China will have the preeminent space agency instead. Not that that's bad really but they're very strongly motivated, while in the US budgets get yanked around, people don't go into advanced engineering and science much any more, Congress is purely dysfunctional and incompetent, etc.

We'll see but I think China will become "where it's at" for space exploration in the future. They have longer term vision, stronger "national will", and an increasingly highly educated population.

Re:NASA: incredible past, dubious future? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46066079)

China will eventually learn the same lesson that the US now, finally, is seeming to learn: spending money on space exploration is a money pit, a drain on national coffers and more productive endeavors, and ultimately can bankrupt a country if left unchecked and leave you trying to play catchup to other countries that have invested their money more pragmatically. Some people tout the advances that have come out of the US space program. What they don't tell you is that most of these "advances" are things that would have been invented anyway, when there was a need. My life would be just fine without velcro and Tang (tm). I'm perfectly fine with China taking the lead in the space race - if the goal is the advancement of human knowledge, what difference does it make where it comes from? Let someone else pay for it - even if China is really paying for it with our money, in a roundabout way. If there is no strategic knowledge that can be gained from this that will give the US a leg-up over other countries, by all means China - lead the way. I'll happily look at the billion dollar pictures you send back.

Re:NASA: incredible past, dubious future? (5, Interesting)

rueger (210566) | about 3 months ago | (#46066849)

spending money on space exploration is a money pit, a drain on national coffers and more productive endeavors

I'll assume that's a troll, but will say "bullshit" nonetheless. The US space program was a key driver in 60s and 70s technological development, and the spin-offs from that investment are pretty much incalculable.

Of course in the current brain dead, uneducated, backwoods American political environment anything that smacks of "science" is considered evil and untrustworthy. (Canada too.)

My prediction is that the Chinese will turn that investment in space into a couple of decades of profit and growth, and will do what the Americans never did - establish a toe-hold on at least the moon and turn that into a money maker and a prestigious accomplishment.

Re:NASA: incredible past, dubious future? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46068073)

You ready to bet on that? How about in ten years we check back? Physics doesn't change with the language your engineers speak. Rockets work the same, they'll have the same energy sources, the same physical principles, space will be as empty and hostile to them as it is for us. Movies, sci-fi and juvenile fantasies do not reality make.

The problem with people like you is that nothing, absolutely nothing will shake your unwavering faith. Not reason, not the evidence of your eyes, nothing. I guarantee you that there won't be a Chinese moon base anymore than there was an American or Russian one, for the reasons the OP stated.

But you'll still be talking about how important space is even though anyone with internet access has the whole of history to look through. Space exploration can be done just fine from right here in our computer chairs while we send machines.

Machines get better, humans don't.

Anyways, the US space program of the '60s and '70s was the RESULT of technological development, not the source of it.

Spin offs? Are you serious? Let me guess, "we only have computers because of Apollo"? That's Space Nutter cant, right?

Re:NASA: incredible past, dubious future? (0)

camperdave (969942) | about 3 months ago | (#46070299)

Machines allow humans to get better. 20,000 years ago, travelling from New York to Paris meant ten years of walking. 500 years ago it would have taken 10 weeks in a wooden sailing ship. 100 years ago, it could be done by steam boat in 10 days. Today: 10 hours by plane. Machines don't improve unless man improves his ability to understand and manipulate the world around him.

The space program was both the result and the source of technological development. It acted as a focal point for many scientists and engineers, providing a fertile soil for technological development. Sure, there was existing technology, but there was also the need to develop new technology to overcome the problems. We may have gotten around to developing and refining the tech sooner or later, but how long would it have taken to develop SSDs and flash drives, digital camera technologies and related technologies if it were not for the Hubble telescope?

Re:NASA: incredible past, dubious future? (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 3 months ago | (#46068363)

Compared to the budget spent on the military, NASA's budget is a drop in the bucket. It's hardly responsible for the gutting of other programs.

Re:NASA: incredible past, dubious future? (2)

cavreader (1903280) | about 3 months ago | (#46068991)

The development of the first ICBM rockets by the military were used in the first mission to the moon. In fact the space program was the perfect cover for the ICBM weapon development program. The bulk of the funding also came out of the military budget. The project was a perfect example of duel use technology development that could distribute the costs across several agencies. Today the military is funding the reusable X-37B space plan which can serve both military and NASA with the costs being absorbed by the military budget.

Re:NASA: incredible past, dubious future? (1)

umafuckit (2980809) | about 3 months ago | (#46067231)

China will eventually learn the same lesson that the US now, finally, is seeming to learn: spending money on space exploration is a money pit, a drain on national coffers and more productive endeavors

Like killing people? The US has spent 6 times as much as the entire shuttle program on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars alone. The total military spending for the US in 2010 was $680 billion (ref [wikipedia.org]). The entire shuttle program, consisting of over 100 flights, cost $196 billion (ref [wikipedia.org]). The total cost of the Curiosity lander, the largest rover ever landed, was $2.5 billion (ref [nasa.gov]). Don't even get my started on the bailout, which wouldn't have been necessary if the financial industry was properly regulated. Space exploration is a fucking bargain.

Re:NASA: incredible past, dubious future? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46067975)

You can't say that around here. "Space exploration" is a religion for atheists, and blasphemy will get you in trouble. Pipe-cleaner arms and pale-faced neckbeards in groups can be almost as terrifying as a chihuahua with polio, but they make a lot of noise.

Accidents aren't always of the bad sort. (3, Interesting)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 3 months ago | (#46066019)

The engineers thought the solar arrays would only generate power for 90 days, as evidence from earlier Mars explorations made them aware of a persistent dust problem they assumed would collect on the arrays' surface. The legendary winds on the planet proved the anti-Murphy, clearing dust accumulation regularly.

chinese moon rover (2)

rainhill (86347) | about 3 months ago | (#46066051)

is out of order, i heard today.

Re:chinese moon rover (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46066111)

is out of order, i heard today.

The Chinese moon rover, Yutu (Jade Rabbit), has experienced a mechanical control abnormality, and scientists are organizing repairs. The difficult environment was blamed for the malfunction.

The glitch occurred due to the "complicated lunar surface environment,” the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) said in a report on the issue.

The abnormality occurred before the rover entered its second dormant phase on Saturday after the lunar night set in, while the lander, another part of the mission, also “fell asleep” on Friday.

The researchers are currently "organizing an overhaul", according to the SASTIND report quoted by the Xinhua state news agency.

The lunar night is equal to about a fortnight on Earth.

During that time, the temperature plunges to minus 180 degrees Celsius, and the rover, which is equipped with a solar panel, falls dormant due to lack of sunlight.

The Yutu rover gets information via its radar, panorama camera, a particle X-ray device and infrared imaging equipment, according to SASTIND.

The mission, called Chang'e-3, landed on the Moon on December 14, and was the third successful attempt to soft-land a spacecraft after the US and Russia (at the time of the landing – the Soviet Union).

In total, 130 lunar probes have been carried out, with a success rate of only around 51 percent, Wu Weiren, chief designer of China's lunar probe program, told Xinhua in an interview.

http://rt.com/news/rover-china... [rt.com]

Re:chinese moon rover (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46066725)

http://i3.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/000/048/934/high-expectations-asian-father-B-PACK-YOUR-STUFF.jpg

we get hurt from the outside... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46066351)

heal from the inside.... free the innocent stem cells. never a better time to consider ourselves in relation to one another & our creative centerpeace momkind

Not Orders Of Magnitude (4, Funny)

JohnPerkins (243021) | about 3 months ago | (#46066485)

"...blowing orders of magnitude past the original projected 90 day mission timeframe."

Minimum of 2 orders of magnitude. 90 * 100 = 9000, or around 24 to 25 years.

Re:Not Orders Of Magnitude (2)

pz (113803) | about 3 months ago | (#46067987)

You need two digits to write the number 90. You need four to write the number that represents ten years of days, 3650 (modulo leap years). Sounds like two orders of magnitude. And it's a good example of why orders of magnitude are so rough an estimation.

Re:Not Orders Of Magnitude (1)

xupere (1680472) | about 3 months ago | (#46082489)

You need two digits to write the number 90.

Not in numbering systems of base-91 or higher, you insensitive clod!

'Years' (2)

Kaenneth (82978) | about 3 months ago | (#46069395)

Earth or Mars years?

Re:'Years' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46070827)

Earth or Mars years?

Ten Earth years. Five of our years.

K'Breel, speaking on behalf of the Council, has declared a 1-sol ceasefire in recognition of the mechanized terror machine's persistence and status as a most worthy adversary.

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