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Spirit Rover Reaches Safety

Zonk posted about 8 years ago | from the go-little-buddy-go dept.

147

dylanduck writes "Good news for rover fans - Spirit is safe for the winter. It had been heading for a north-tilting spot to make sure its solar panels got enough sunlight during the imminent winter to survive, when a sand trap appeared. But, despite its busted wheel, it scooted round and is now sitting pretty. From the article: 'We've got a safe rover,' says principal investigator Steve Squyres. 'That's huge news for us.'"

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147 comments

Tough decisions (4, Insightful)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | about 8 years ago | (#15101512)

The science team has had to make some tough decisions about which observations to make and which to cut short as the rover hustled across the plains towards a northerly tilting slope. Squyres says Spirit had to leave the circular target dubbed Home Plate earlier than the science team would have liked. But he now says the outcrop at Low Ridge Haven "might be made of the same stuff".

Yes, its made of rock.

Now wheres the damn aliens we were promised.

I know, I know - its really a good thing.
If it lasts the winter and moves on, dragging a broken wheel around may end up being a blessing in disguise, you never know what it might uncover.

Re:Tough decisions (2, Funny)

Winlin (42941) | about 8 years ago | (#15101541)

If nothing else, driving it around with a broken wheel will probably attract the attention of the Martian Highway Patrol. And you just know how tough they are on those out-of-planet tourist types.

Re:Tough decisions (1)

iced_773 (857608) | about 8 years ago | (#15102036)


will probably attract the attention of the Martian Highway Patrol

Or the Council of Elders. Someone please post some Late Breaking News - I wanna know how K'Breel is doing!

Re:Tough decisions (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 8 years ago | (#15101617)

dragging a broken wheel around may end up being a blessing in disguise, you never know what it might uncover

Yeah, it will uncover a very mysterious groove in the dirt that seems to always be along the path it just took... ITs THE ALIENZ!!!!1

Re:Tough decisions (2, Informative)

Tackhead (54550) | about 8 years ago | (#15101626)

> Yes, its made of rock.
>
> Now wheres the damn aliens we were promised.

We're right here, you ugly bag of mostly-water. Your master of psychotropically-voyaging primates is presently unavailable, and the Council has temporarily deigned to occupy waterbag 54550 to answer your pathetic cries.

Once more, panic swept across the beaches of Low Ridge Haven during the Late Autumn Festivals. K'Breel, Speaker for the Council, stressed that there was no cause for alarm:

"The evil blue planet continues to attempt to make war against us. They think that by depriving our wonderful, finely-layered bedrock outcrops of warmth and light during the winter, they will secure some measure of thermal victory. Let me assure you, that is far from the truth. I laugh at the pathetic solar siphoning techniques employed by the armored vehicles of the evil blue planet!"
When asked if rumors were true that blue-planet-inhabitants' armored vehicle was just catching some sweet rays over the winter, K'Breel denounced him as a traitor and wrapped his gelsac duct around each of the five remaining functional drive motors of the invaders' vehicle.

Re:Tough decisions (4, Funny)

tktk (540564) | about 8 years ago | (#15101704)

We're right here, you ugly bag of mostly-water.

Slows what yu know.

I'm nostly ful of alochol.

Re:Tough decisions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15101733)

Which would explain why you are so "FA-LAMING!!!"

Re:Tough decisions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15103156)

*enjoy the sauce*

Re:Tough decisions (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15101839)

the Council has temporarily deigned to occupy waterbag 54550 to answer your pathetic cries.

Oh great. Cue posts from aliens occupying four- and three-digit waterbags.

Re:Tough decisions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15101847)

> > the Council has temporarily deigned to occupy waterbag 54550 to answer your pathetic cries.
>
> Oh great. Cue posts from aliens occupying four- and three-digit waterbags.

One demented meme deserves another!

Wouldn't it be nice.... (4, Funny)

p51d007 (656414) | about 8 years ago | (#15102581)

if ALL of NASA worked as well as the Mars rovers?

Re:Wouldn't it be nice.... (2, Funny)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | about 8 years ago | (#15103202)

When you take humans out of the equation, you minimize the chance for failures.

That's why, in 2008, I'm voting for Skynet.

Re:Wouldn't it be nice.... (1)

rk (6314) | about 8 years ago | (#15103733)

Is that who we vote for when we get tired of voting for the lesser of two evils?

Amazing (5, Insightful)

networkBoy (774728) | about 8 years ago | (#15101517)

I really can not believe that the rovers are still running at all.
NASA did a bang up job on these. Build more and recover the economies of scale!
-nB

Re:Amazing (1, Funny)

DonkeyHote (521235) | about 8 years ago | (#15101562)

"I really can not believe that the rovers are still running at all." Thats because you're an idiot. ~ Central Park Zoo's gay penguins ignite debate Dinitia Smith, New York Times Saturday, February 7, 2004 New York -- Roy and Silo, two chinstrap penguins at the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan, are completely devoted to each other. For nearly six years now, they have been inseparable. They exhibit what in penguin parlance is called "ecstatic behavior": That is, they entwine their necks, they vocalize to each other, they have sex. Silo and Roy are, to anthropomorphize a bit, gay penguins. When offered female companionship, they have adamantly refused it. And the females aren't interested in them, either. At one time, the two seemed so desperate to incubate an egg together that they put a rock in their nest and sat on it, keeping it warm in the folds of their abdomens, said their chief keeper, Rob Gramzay. Finally, he gave them a fertile egg that needed care to hatch. Things went perfectly, and a chick, Tango, was born. For the next 2 1/2 months they raised Tango, keeping her warm and feeding her food from their beaks until she could go out into the world on her own. Gramzay is full of praise. "They did a great job," he said. Roy and Silo are hardly unusual. Indeed, scientists have found homosexual behavior throughout the animal world. This growing body of science has been increasingly drawn into charged debates about homosexuality in American society, on subjects from gay marriage to sodomy laws, despite reluctance from experts in the field to extrapolate from animals to humans. Gay groups argue that if homosexual behavior occurs in animals, it is natural, and therefore the rights of homosexuals should be protected. On the other hand, some conservative religious groups have condemned the same practices in the past, calling them "animalistic." But if homosexuality occurs among animals, does that necessarily mean it is natural for humans? And that raises a familiar question: If homosexuality is not a choice, but a result of natural forces that cannot be controlled, can it be immoral? The open discussion of homosexual behavior in animals is relatively new. "There has been a certain cultural shyness about admitting it," said Frans de Waal, whose 1997 book, "Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape" (University of California Press), unleashed a torrent of discussion about animal sexuality. Bonobos, apes closely related to humans, are wildly energetic sexually. Studies show that whether observed in the wild or in captivity, nearly all are bisexual and nearly half their sexual interactions are with the same sex. Females have been observed to engage in homosexual activity almost hourly. Before his own book, "American scientists who investigated bonobos never discussed sex at all," said de Waal, director of the Living Links Center of the Yerkes Primate Center at Emory University in Atlanta. "Or they sometimes would show two females having sex together, and would say, 'The females are very affectionate.' " Then in 1999, Bruce Bagemihl published "Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity" (St. Martin's Press), one of the first books of its kind to provide an overview of scholarly studies of same-sex behavior in animals. Bagemihl said homosexual behavior had been documented in some 450 species. Last summer, the book was cited by the American Psychiatric Association and other groups in a "friend of the court" brief submitted to the Supreme Court in Lawrence vs. Texas, a case challenging a Texas anti-sodomy law. The court struck down the law. In his book, Bagemihl describes homosexual activity in a broad spectrum of animals. He asserts that while same-sex behavior is sometimes found in captivity, it is actually seen more frequently in studies of animals in the wild. Among birds, for instance, studies show that 10 to 15 percent of female western gulls in some populations in the wild are homosexual. Among mammals, male and female bottlenose dolphins frequently engage in homosexual activity, both in captivity and in the wild. Homosexuality is particularly common among young male dolphin calves. One male may protect another that is resting or healing from wounds inflicted by a predator. When one partner dies, the other may search for a new male mate. Male and female rhesus macaques, a type of monkey, also exhibit homosexuality in captivity and in the wild. Males are affectionate to each other, touching, holding and embracing. Females smack their lips at each other and play games like hide-and-seek, peekaboo and follow the leader. And both sexes mount members of their own sex. Some scientists say homosexual behavior in animals is not necessarily about sex. Marlene Zuk, a professor of biology at UC Riverside and author of "Sexual Selections: What We Can and Can't Learn About Sex From Animals" (University of California Press, 2002), notes that scientists have speculated that homosexuality may have an evolutionary purpose, ensuring the survival of the species. By not producing their own offspring, homosexuals may help support or nurture their relatives' young. "That is a contribution to the gene pool," she said. Janet Mann, a professor of biology and psychology at Georgetown University who has studied same-sex behavior in dolphin calves, says their homosexuality "is about bond formation, not about being sexual for life." She said studies show that adult male dolphins form long-term alliances, sometimes in large groups. As adults, they cooperate to entice a single female and keep other males from her. Sometimes they share the female, or they may cooperate to help one male. "Male-male cooperation is extremely important," Mann said. The homosexual behavior of the young calves "could be practicing" for that later, crucial adult period, she added. Scientists warn about drawing conclusions about humans. "For some people, what animals do is a yardstick of what is and isn't natural," Vasey said. "They make a leap from saying if it's natural, it's morally and ethically desirable." But he added: "Infanticide is widespread in the animal kingdom. To jump from that to say it is desirable makes no sense. We shouldn't be using animals to craft moral and social policies for the kinds of human societies we want to live in. Animals don't take care of the elderly. I don't particularly think that should be a platform for closing down nursing homes." What the animal studies do show, Zuk observed, is that "sexuality is a lot broader term than people want to think." "You have this idea that the animal kingdom is strict, old-fashioned Roman Catholic," she said, "that they have sex just to procreate." In bonobos, she noted: "you see expressions of sex outside the period when females are fertile. Suddenly, you are beginning to see that sex is not necessarily about reproduction."

Re:Amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15101590)

WTF kind of troll was that?
-nB

Re:Amazing (1)

Daemon69 (892528) | about 8 years ago | (#15101630)

Considering that the scientists didn't expect them to even last this long, everything else it's accomplished (and hopefully will accomplish) is gravy. Way to go, NASA!

Re:Amazing (5, Funny)

PeelBoy (34769) | about 8 years ago | (#15101642)

They sure as hell lasted a lot longer than any radio controlled toy I ever owned

Re:Amazing (3, Funny)

njchick (611256) | about 8 years ago | (#15101943)

I guess the dust accumulation rate in your apartment is higher than on Mars.

Re:Amazing (1)

Feanturi (99866) | about 8 years ago | (#15102813)

I guess the dust accumulation rate in your apartment is higher than on Mars.

I don't know about his, but it certainly is in mine. They should field-test these things in my apartment before they send them out there, they'd be indestructible! I'll only charge $30,000 per week for a testing area next to the couch. Cheap!

RC Toys (2, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 8 years ago | (#15102607)

I won't make assumptions about what you did or didn't own, but just about any toy you buy from radio shack, the toy store, or dept. store is utter trash compared to a hobby quality RC vehicle.

Once you think your kid is old enough to handle the responsibilities of an expensive toy, pick something out from a hobby catalog and introduce them to real RC stuff.

Compared to a $30~$50 car, yes, it's an expensive investment, but like the rover, you'll get a lot more bang for your buck.

Just like the Voyager Probes! (4, Insightful)

dakirw (831754) | about 8 years ago | (#15101650)

Another good example of NASA's success in the unmanned exploration program, which contrasts nicely with the current issues with the Space Shuttle program and its potential successors. Wonder if any of the administrators in charge of the space probe programs can help implement changes in the manned space program.

Re:Just like the Voyager Probes! (2, Interesting)

ThreeE (786934) | about 8 years ago | (#15102609)

Please explain your point. The complexities involved with manned spaceflight vastly surpass those faced by the rovers. Don't get me wrong, the rovers are fantastic, but the consequences of failure are on a completely different scale. The payoffs of human presence, both long term and short term, are totally different too. And let's not even mention the string of unmanned failures at Mars either...

Both are needed. Both are doing their best. Lead, follow, or get out of the way and stop bitching.

Shuttle was always a compromise nasa/military (1)

spineboy (22918) | about 8 years ago | (#15103477)

The shuttle was never intended by NASA scientists/engineers to be like it is. The military needed a space presence as well, and thus ensued some changes/compromises that helped neither NASA or the military. Nasa's original design was for a cheap re-usable 2 stage shuttle, capable of 50+ launches/year - to help build a space station in a low - earth orbit.

However, the desire to increase it's size, lead to the large external booster tank, the SRB's, all of which reduced the maximal launches to around 20/year, also increasing it's complexity and cost per launch. I still think it's done pretty well despite all the compromises.

Re:Amazing (4, Interesting)

sdo1 (213835) | about 8 years ago | (#15101658)

I really can not believe that the rovers are still running at all. NASA did a bang up job on these.

One might also argue that since they so grossly exceeded their life expectancy then they were overdesigned and cost too much.

But I agree. Great job.

Build more and recover the economies of scale!

Yes! Yes! Yes! I can't understand why they insist on going back to the drawing board every time. I've read about the next generation rovers [space.com]. They're very different in many ways including the way they'll land on Mars.

I just don't understand why, with the success that Spirt and Opportunity have had, they don't build these as a platform. Surely if the research was put into new instruments that could be attached to the current design, rather than redesigning from scratch, that would be a better use of the money.

I'm sure (or hope) NASA has thought this through, right?

-S

Re:Amazing (4, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 8 years ago | (#15101703)

"Build more and recover the economies of scale!

Yes! Yes! Yes! I can't understand why they insist on going back to the drawing board every time. I've read about the next generation rovers. They're very different in many ways including the way they'll land on Mars. "

Because there aren't any economies of scale to be had.
The big cost of the rovers isn't the rover but the launch vehicle and the time on the DSN to keep them running. Mainly the launch vehicle. The Rover themselves are pretty cheap in comparison.
Also after each mission NASA learns more about what works and doesn't and finds new questions to ask and that requires new tools.
Finally because stuff gets better over time. You know that Moore's law thing?

In reality trying to get "economies of scale" from the space program is EXACTLY the wrong way to do things. That is what lead to trying to use the Shuttle for everything.
The space program should be more about trying new ideas than mass production.

Re:Amazing (2, Interesting)

barawn (25691) | about 8 years ago | (#15102330)

Because there aren't any economies of scale to be had.

That's not entirely true. The biggest cost savings that a space project (the project, not the launch) can have is preventing systems failure - because a systems failure requires a new launch.

So while I agree that reusing the rovers is moderately silly, given that certain technologies have proven themselves very very well, I would be extremely upset if those (successful, proven) technologies weren't used in future rover missions.

In some sense, that is 'economies of scale'. It doesn't save you much money up front, but it reduces the chance that the mission will fail. Of course, this is in a lot of sense what NASA will do - and did do.

Why? Because Spirit and Opportunity are already beneficiaries of the economies of scale - they both succeeded because their landing gear design [wikipedia.org] had already been tested, and the cruise stage design [wikipedia.org] already has been tested as well. Oh, and the aeroshell design [wikipedia.org] had been tested already, too. Almost thirty years previously. And if you want to talk about rover design? Automated obstacle avoidance, as well.

So I definitely agree with you that I'm not happy about people criticizing NASA for not massively replicating the Spirit/Opportunity design - that is, for not building off of successes. They are building off of successes. That's why Spirit and Opportunity worked so well in the first place.

Yes, Mars Science Laboratory [wikipedia.org] will be greatly different than the previous three. But it's still going to build off of proven technologies. That's taking the best of 'economies of scale' - getting a proven design - while not being limited to the original's limitations.

Heck, MSL still states that solar power is under consideration. And I have little doubt that it's stayed under consideration because of Spirit and Opportunity's success.

Just say no to Solar Power (2, Insightful)

SockPuppet_9_5 (645235) | about 8 years ago | (#15103674)

Heck, MSL still states that solar power is under consideration.

I'm surprised to hear that solar power is being considered for the next generation of Mars Rovers. That alone would rule out examining any feature with significant relief, like canyons and polar regions. Both Spirit and Opportunity got aid in cleaning off their solar panels from Martian wind gusts.

Would any engineer want to sign off on a design that requires sporadic Martian wind in order to keep power levels high? Without solar panel cleaning, the life expectancy of the mission would be short.

The radioisotope thermoelectric generators [wikipedia.org] have just too many benefits, including the ability to keep the rover electronics warm.

The only real reason I can see to continue to use solar power on Martian rovers is politics.

Re:Amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15102358)

Okay how about Licencing the design to some toy maker for extra moola, and allow Hasbro or Mattel or whomever to put out a to scale replica of the damn thing for people to buy for Kids or Enthusiasts or something! Id Buy it!

Re:Amazing (2, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | about 8 years ago | (#15102545)

Of course, what is really missed here, is that if we stayed with what was suggested, we would still be using the viking which never moved (~1000Kg). Or we would be using pathfinder that carried only 10 Kilos. Finally, the current rovers are about 180 kg (big improvement). But they will all be dwarfed by the capablilities of the MSL which will around 1000 Kgs and will move a great deal further and faster. So each time, these have increase about 10 fold with improved instruments. It would be interesting to see if our follow-on mission will involve sending 10x that weight. That would require the new Cargo Launch Vehicle to be used for that.

Re:Amazing (1)

networkBoy (774728) | about 8 years ago | (#15101722)

"Surely if the research was put into new instruments that could be attached to the current design, rather than redesigning from scratch, that would be a better use of the money."

That and maybe little tweaks that would improve performance. Kind of like Rover 1.0 (current model), 1.1 (Improved Flash memory). Treat this as a test platform and attach whatever modules you want to it. Send it off to anywhere on mars or the moon (asteroid belt?) where there is enough sunlight and explore the hell out of it.
-nB

Re:Amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15102022)

"One might also argue that since they so grossly exceeded their life expectancy then they were overdesigned and cost too much."

One might ALSO argue that since they were so well designed and considerations were made for and based on worst-case scenarios, when the WORST doesn't occur, you get a longer useful lifetime than expected.

Re:Amazing (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 8 years ago | (#15102035)

I really can not believe that the rovers are still running at all. NASA did a bang up job on these.

One might also argue that since they so grossly exceeded their life expectancy then they were overdesigned and cost too much.

One might argue that. One might, equally as fruitfully, argue that the earth is flat. The simple fact is this; the key pacing item for the life expectancy of the rovers is the amount of dust that collects on the solar panels - and a series of fortuitous events have prevented the dust from collecting at the rate expected.
Build more and recover the economies of scale!

Yes! Yes! Yes!

No! No! No! The big costs are in operations and launching - niether of which is particularly sensitive to scaling. (Even so, assembly of the rovers is mostly manual work, and much of the cost is in testing and verification - again, not very sensitive to scaling.)
I can't understand why they insist on going back to the drawing board every time. I've read about the next generation rovers. They're very different in many ways including the way they'll land on Mars.
They don't go back to the drawing board each time - they draw on the experience from the previous missions and go forward. They also seek to answer different questions and perform different missions each time. (Spirit and Opportunity are in particularly easy to get to, easy to navigate locations - not all of Mars is like that.)
I just don't understand why, with the success that Spirt and Opportunity have had, they don't build these as a platform.
For the same reason we no longer use 8086's as a platform, or '56 big block engines. Times change, requirements change.
Surely if the research was put into new instruments that could be attached to the current design, rather than redesigning from scratch, that would be a better use of the money.
Sure - if all you wanted to do was run unambitious missions in 'safe' areas. The rovers can only operate in flattish areas near the Martian equator. The terrestrial equivalent is roughly the Sahara Desert. There's some interesting rock formations, etc.. etc.. But it's only on very small portion of the planet.

Re:Amazing (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | about 8 years ago | (#15102332)

NASA is a huge team of engineers. When you get more than 0 engineers working together in a project, everything can always be improved, made better, changed, and redesigned.

Most of the time you have to ignore the engineers and just build the blasted thing or nothing will get done. But in this instance, it's a long time before there's going to be another launch to Mars; so why not make it better in the meantime?

Re:Amazing (1)

barawn (25691) | about 8 years ago | (#15102469)

I can't understand why they insist on going back to the drawing board every time.

They don't.

Spirit and Opportunity reused:

  • Sojourner's obstacle avoidance system design.
  • Pathfinder's airbag landing system design.
  • Viking's aeroshell design.
  • Pathfinder's cruise stage design.
  • Pathfinder's APXS design (*).


And probably half a dozen other portions I'm not even suggesting here. Note that they didn't reuse them exactly the same - that'd be silly, they tweaked them, of course. But the Mars rovers missions have been reusing 'things which worked' for a while.

Keep in mind that a lot of the above designs are fatal if they don't work. Redesigning the rover itself isn't that big a deal in comparison - especially if you design the system redundantly.

*: Mostly, I think. Max Planck Institute built portions of the Pathfinder APXS, Spirit/Opportunity's, and will build part of the Mars Science Laboratory's as well. Chicago provided portions of Pathfinder's APXS as well.

Re:Amazing (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 8 years ago | (#15101746)

I really can not believe that the rovers are still running at all.
NASA did a bang up job on these. Build more and recover the economies of scale!
- I don't think it's NASA problem to recover economical value from their work, but they could in principle spin-off a firm that would use NASA tech for other purposes. Maybe we could use robots like this here, on Earth?

I think NASA uses the proven design decisions in their new development work, but how would they really know what works best without trying the thing out? So it makes sense to go in different directions, building a small robot, building a big robot, trying different landing/relaunch platforms. What is most important is not to lose the gathered information.

How do they keep the design and manufacturing details from getting lost over time?

Re:Amazing (2, Interesting)

suv4x4 (956391) | about 8 years ago | (#15101756)

"I really can not believe that the rovers are still running at all.
NASA did a bang up job on these. Build more and recover the economies of scale!"

Not long from now people will start speculating that the rovers are CGI animation and start finding hundreds of "deffects" in the Mars shots that demonstrate they've been "Photoshopped".

It's kinda already happening in the form of humor and parody.

It happened with the Moon landing.

People are cruel, people are doubtful. You can respect the latter but pitty the former.

Re:Amazing (1)

rapidweather (567364) | about 8 years ago | (#15101865)

Undoubtedly they had to guess at what would be needed in the way of a rover when these were built.
Now that they know, surely the next ones will greatly benefit from the experience.

Re:Amazing (2, Interesting)

Frangible (881728) | about 8 years ago | (#15102809)

Just think of what their lifespan would be with atomic batteries instead of solar cells. They would not be degraded by dust that couldn't be cleaned, wouldn't be non-functional for the winter, and could deliver much more energy for faster movement. The Voyager space probes used atomic batteries and last I heard, still worked after 30+ years. Wikipedia shows that their atomic batteries now produce 319 watts, from 470 initially.

For comparison, the rovers produce only 140 watts during peak solar times (4 hours/day), in the summer.

It's a shame irrational fear of nuclear material has again gotten in the way of better science.

thank goodness (4, Funny)

dotpavan (829804) | about 8 years ago | (#15101522)

..Spirit is safe for the winter..

I was really getting worried about my winter supply! :P

I've seen this one before (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15101533)

It seems like it's safe, but then the Sarlacc opens its big ugly mouth and the next thing you know, the rover is being digested for 1,000 years.

Re:I've seen this one before (3, Funny)

MikTheUser (761482) | about 8 years ago | (#15102174)

There was a young man from the East
Who unwillingly served as a feast,
For his ship, it did fall
To the planet of Trall
Near a ravenous bug-blatter beast.

(Oh yes, I wrote this all on my own!)

Re:I've seen this one before (2, Funny)

Bob the Hamster (705714) | about 8 years ago | (#15102196)

It seems like it's safe, but then the Sarlacc opens its big ugly mouth and the next thing you know, the rover is being digested for 1,000 years.

Which will provide us with lots of fantastic scientific data about the biology of the Martian Sarlacc, and perhaps will help xenobiologists determine where it fits on the evolutionary tree in relation to the better-studied Tatooine Sarlacc.

Just in time! (4, Funny)

GillBates0 (664202) | about 8 years ago | (#15101552)

Now I go get my (well-deserved) Monday evening 6 pack of beer without a twinge of guilt. Way to go Rover.

I hope it works better than... (5, Funny)

sdo1 (213835) | about 8 years ago | (#15101593)

... the windows "hibernate" feature.

"Ok... wake up"

"I'm sorry Dave. Everything you were working on is know kaput and I've forgotten about everything that you were doing. By the way, where did that network connection go?"

Re:I hope it works better than... (1)

Expert Determination (950523) | about 8 years ago | (#15101908)

I wonder why people still make Windows hibernation jokes. Yes, it was incredibly bad at one point. But nothing was as bad as the sound driver for a Linux laptop I had which would occasionally scream at maximum volume when restored from sleep. (And at that time I had to write a bunch of scripts to wake things like networking back up again after sleeping, something that "just worked" under Windows.) Despite my affection for the device, even my MacOS X PowerBook fails to wake properly from sleep on a semi-regular basis (twice this weekend in fact). So please, enough with the Windows hibernation jokes. They're not funny any more.

And why did I ask, I know the answer to my own question. Joking about Windows hibernation is an example of FUD.

Re:I hope it works better than... (1)

Ryan Amos (16972) | about 8 years ago | (#15102014)

People make fun of Windows hibernation because it *still* doesn't work. My PowerBook works most of the time, but more often than not with windows it will just sit there and drain your battery in 6 hours and not hibernate at all.

Re:I hope it works better than... (1)

Expert Determination (950523) | about 8 years ago | (#15102136)

Actually, plug a device into a PowerBook while the lid is closed and you have non-trivial chance of it waking up, waking up the driver for the device, crashing, remaining on, and doing serious damage because the case can't dissipate the heat while the lid is closed. I'm now careful not to plug in a device while the lid is closed. A few times I tried backups at the end of the day leaving my laptop to finish the process during the night and trusting it to hibernate automatically when finished. But most times I just had an unrecoverable black screen in the morning. I now run the backup app during the day and manually put the machine to sleep at the end. I really don't see that Windows is that much worse than other OSes.

I also can't help noticing that none of my colleagues at work trust Linux enough to hibernate the PCs they use. They always shut down properly before closing the lid.

Re:I hope it works better than... (1)

Knackered (311164) | about 8 years ago | (#15102234)


People make fun of Windows hibernation because it *still* doesn't work.

Really? That's news to me...I have to reboot my Windows tablet PC once every 2-3 months, and I travel with it a lot. It goes into hibernation when I'm travelling, it wakes up just fine when I get where I'm going, and carries on exactly where I left off.

Re:I hope it works better than... (1)

aXis100 (690904) | about 8 years ago | (#15103398)

My PC and laptop are both pretty good at hibernation. As per other posters, I probably reboot once every few m,onths, but hibernate every night.

Most likely it's dodgy hardware/drivers that makes Windows Hibernation fail.

Never play the odds! (4, Funny)

MudButt (853616) | about 8 years ago | (#15101597)

AHH! Damn rover cost me 20G's! My bookie's gunna break my legs...

Las Vegas Releases Odds For Mars Probe Trifecta-of-Failure [newshax.com]

Re:Never play the odds! (4, Funny)

ptomblin (1378) | about 8 years ago | (#15101611)

He's already broken one of Spirit's.

Re:Never play the odds! (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 8 years ago | (#15102715)

He's already broken one of Spirit's.

Nah, Spirit is just faking -- the bookie is cutting him in on the proceeds of the bets. Hell lose a few more games, and then they'll bet heavy in the finals.

Pure genius!

Hey, cheer up -- Maybe ESA'll pull another Beagle! (1)

The_REAL_DZA (731082) | about 8 years ago | (#15101647)

All they've gotta do is screw-up big time and miss Venus, then drop this [slashdot.org] guy on top of the "safe" parking spot... Should at least be good for a "double-or-nothing" bet.

Martian Golfers? (4, Funny)

ToxikFetus (925966) | about 8 years ago | (#15101656)

So NASA drove Spirit into a sand trap? The last time I drove a golf cart into a sand trap, I got my ass banned from the local links.

Re:Martian Golfers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15101737)

hello? hello? is this thing on? take my wife, please, take my wife. hello? hello? asdfj'dasfkldsnmxcvnzlkjklsdj'fpiujiofshjdafkjhdas jkfhjkhdasfjkdasfjkhakjdasfads!!!!!!!!

Re:Martian Golfers? (1)

patio11 (857072) | about 8 years ago | (#15102703)

If you had a couple of billion dollars to throw around you'd also be forgiven that minor incident with the sand trap.

Didn't make it to McCool Hill (1)

stevesliva (648202) | about 8 years ago | (#15101666)

It's too bad that they were forced to give up on getting over to McCool hill. If you look at the map [nasa.gov] referenced in this update [nasa.gov], you realize that they just gave up on the farther safe slopes in favor of the slope immediately at hand. But if it survives to survey through another martian summer, I suppose it's worth it.

This just in (4, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | about 8 years ago | (#15101673)

The busted wheel has been confirmed as a design flaw, and the manufacturers sub contracted by NASA, Martian Rovers R' Us have issued an immediate recall of all rovers. DHL are expected to pick Spirit up tomorrow for refurbishment.

Re:This just in (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 8 years ago | (#15102618)

NASA actually has more than one Rover.

They sent one to Mars and kept at least one on Earth to use for trouble shooting. When the wheel failed, they 'broke' the same wheel on their test model and played around with it before futzing with the real thing.

Re:This just in (1)

jftitan (736933) | about 8 years ago | (#15103510)

This just in!!!

DHL recovery team, dies due to the tremendous neck breaking speeds it takes to get to Mars. When the pickup vehicle arrives, and opens its doors, the team would just be mush, and due to lack of oxygen they would have died anyways. (some intelligent engineer decided they would only need 12 hours of oxygen, because the speed of pickup and delivery.)

Well now, (2, Insightful)

LordoftheLemmings (773163) | about 8 years ago | (#15101678)

Once again we see the advantages of an unmanned space program over our manned one. Now I am really for manned exploration of space, I'm just against nasa doing it. They have way more success on their unmanned programs (not to mention more bang for your buck). Look at voyager look at the mars rovers look at their new mission to pluto. I wish the nasa administration would see that they need to stop taking money from our unmanned programs to waste on our shuttle and shuttle derived programs.

Re:Well now, (4, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | about 8 years ago | (#15101724)

Once again we see the advantages of an unmanned space program over our manned one.

I'm sorry but I don't see it. Care to elaborate on this point?

While I do think the rovers are a great success I can't help but think that if we would make the proper moves to getting people to the moon we could make space exploration cheaper. Also consider that it's taken the rovers over a year to do what a manned exploration could have completed in a week.

Aside from the durability of the crafts there is little to be amazed by here.

Re:Well now, (0)

UnrefinedLayman (185512) | about 8 years ago | (#15101875)

When you compare the cost, time and man-power required to get rovers to Mars versus people to Mars, it would seem that the rovers win out. Sure, the work they did could be completed in a week by people, but the rovers completed the jobs they were sent to do to 100% and then continued to work eight times longer than their planned time with a budget less than would be required to get people to Mars, nevermind keep them alive there and then bring them back. I suspect that getting a human expedition on Mars to last eight times longer than their supplies would normally permit would not be so easy.

It's about the returns on investment, and the yield from rovers appears to be a lot better than the yield from sending Bob the Geologist.

Re:Well now, (1)

east coast (590680) | about 8 years ago | (#15102278)

the rovers completed the jobs they were sent to do to 100%

The difference is that they did 100% of what they were designed to do. Now, go ask this project leader if he could have had humans on the moon for the same period of time (as in the initial programs lifespan) what would he have the human do instead? I have zero doubt that the expectations would be much much higher. Why? Because humans ARE more capable of completing these tasks no matter what the naysayers would have you believe.

In this way I'm still not convinced that unmanned is better, we had near brushes with failure not to mention that so much had to be put into planning that humans could have easily overcome. So what if it costs 8-10 times more; it's worth it from the standpoint of research and reliability.

Re:Well now, (0)

UnrefinedLayman (185512) | about 8 years ago | (#15102941)

In this way I'm still not convinced that unmanned is better, we had near brushes with failure not to mention that so much had to be put into planning that humans could have easily overcome. So what if it costs 8-10 times more; it's worth it from the standpoint of research and reliability.
About 60% of all missions to Mars have failed. That's not near-brushes with failure, that's a very high failure rate. The planning and technology required to safely land humans on Mars is staggering and comes with a high likelihood of failure.

It would take only one failure for all future missions to be indefinitely scrubbed--can you imagine having every astronaut in the mission die when their six-month journey to Mars finally completes after dumping billions and billions of dollars into the trip and the infrastructure necessary to provide them with food and water? America won't even risk flying the shuttle 150 miles overhead.

With a manned mission more can be done in less time, but the risks and the cost when compared to unmanned missions is totally skewed--like I said, it's all about the ratios and ROI.

Re:Well now, (1)

east coast (590680) | about 8 years ago | (#15103003)

About 60% of all missions to Mars have failed.

Uh, I was speaking of the rovers (just as you were in your GP).

The planning and technology required to safely land humans on Mars is staggering and comes with a high likelihood of failure.

I agree, to a point. I know it's a high end task (one of the reasons I suggested the moon in the first place, not to mention costs and logistics). With steps taken from the moon to the next planet we will doubtlessly overcome several of these daunting tasks.

With a manned mission more can be done in less time, but the risks and the cost when compared to unmanned missions is totally skewed--like I said, it's all about the ratios and ROI.

Yeah, because there is a lot of ROI in having rovers dig some mars dirt.... uh huh. Now if you can show Joe Sispack that his tax dollars not only helped build a Mars-destined craft but also brough him some new Earth based technology that's going to sell.

Re:Well now, (0)

UnrefinedLayman (185512) | about 8 years ago | (#15103185)

I agree, to a point. I know it's a high end task (one of the reasons I suggested the moon in the first place, not to mention costs and logistics). With steps taken from the moon to the next planet we will doubtlessly overcome several of these daunting tasks.
I agree that with time it can all be overcome, and I hope that there are manned missions eventually. I'm only arguing the point that there are reasons manned missions aren't happening now and that because of those reasons unmanned missions are a very attractive and benefit-rich avenue.
Yeah, because there is a lot of ROI in having rovers dig some mars dirt.... uh huh. Now if you can show Joe Sispack that his tax dollars not only helped build a Mars-destined craft but also brough him some new Earth based technology that's going to sell.
Joe Sixpack isn't going to benefit from having humans on Mars either. There are returns beyond making technology for companies to sell to make money (which seems rather unlikely); are we forgetting that this is about science? Not to mention that Joe Sixpack is going to be mighty upset about losing twenty billion dollars' worth of time and research and x great scientists when the ship more likely than not crashes and burns versus the four out of ten successful multiple-rover landings.

Re:Well now, (1)

east coast (590680) | about 8 years ago | (#15103332)

are we forgetting that this is about science?

Perhaps to you it is but let me point out that since the space program is no longer a matter of national pride and has become more about science the funding has decreased as well as the progress of the space program. Introduce some profits and I bet you'll find renewed interest.

Not to mention that Joe Sixpack is going to be mighty upset about losing twenty billion dollars' worth of time and research and x great scientists when the ship more likely than not crashes and burns versus the four out of ten successful multiple-rover landings.

I call straight-up bullshit on this one. You ask Joe Sixpack the last great accomplishment in space and he might say the ISS. In most likeliness he'll claim that space has been a waste since Apollo. I'll lay good money on that.

Not to even mention the fact that you're already predicting failure... why is that? There has been more lost unmanned missions than manned missions to space. That is the fact of the matter.

Re:Well now, (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 8 years ago | (#15102466)

Also consider that it's taken the rovers over a year to do what a manned exploration could have completed in a week
Since the manned exploration is a grand dream for a later administration to start on and pay for it's hardly relevant is it? A lot of unmanned exploration can happen for years before we even have a viable launch vehicle, simply because the rovers don't need food or oxygen and other heavy and expensive to move requirements.

Re:Well now, (1)

east coast (590680) | about 8 years ago | (#15102932)

Since the manned exploration is a grand dream for a later administration to start on and pay for it's hardly relevant is it?

Since this particular thread deals with manned vs. unmanned spaceflight I think my argument is very relevant.

A lot of unmanned exploration can happen for years before we even have a viable launch vehicle, simply because the rovers don't need food or oxygen and other heavy and expensive to move requirements.

I would rather see NASA (or whomever) funnel the lion's share of their funding into making a viable launch vehicle (or better yet, subcontract one out) and creating the needed facilities on the moon to lower the cost of interplanetary travel as opposed to mission after mission of "hey, we're made of star dust" and yet no real appreciable progress that can lead towards new technology or the concept of space mining, colonization, etc etc.

Re:Well now, (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 8 years ago | (#15103745)

Also consider that it's taken the rovers over a year to do what a manned exploration could have completed in a week.

As somebody already pointed out, rovers are still far cheaper dispite being slow-pokes. Sending geologists to the moon did not seem very fruitful because it took careful earth-based lab analysis to figure out the rocks. It is far cheaper to use remote control to return samples. Maybe people are more glorious, but robots are just plain cheaper for science.
         

Re:Well now, (2, Informative)

Volante3192 (953645) | about 8 years ago | (#15101751)

I don't see any problem with the Apollo missions. Those were NASA and manned.

The shuttle came into play when NASA decided to send up experiments with the astronauts. The bay gave them a massive storage space to play with. Problem is the shuttle burned out long ago. It's well past warranty and needs a replacement badly...cept we're stuck with the shuttle until the ISS is finished since parts are built with the shuttle's bay in mind.

No other rocket in service has the storage space like the shuttle does if I remember right

As far as success with unmanned missions... NASA gets burned hard when they lose a probe and Mars is up to what, 3 lost now? These rovers are starting to cancel the memory of those out.

Re:Well now, (2, Insightful)

Viking Coder (102287) | about 8 years ago | (#15102855)

I don't see any problem with the Apollo missions. Those were NASA and manned.

Apollo 1 - Virgil Grissom, Ed White, Roger Chaffee.

NASA gets burned hard when they lose a probe...

NASA gets burned worse when they lose astronauts.

It's completely impossible for a human to make it to another solar system within my lifetime - but using microwave-based solar sails, it's possible to send a camera through a nearby solar system and get pictures back, in that timeframe.

I'm not voting against manned missions - I'm just voting much more strongly for the unmanned ones to continue and accelerate.

leave 'em up there (1)

muzik4machines (834892) | about 8 years ago | (#15103065)

why dont they just send the parts in orbit(using all shuttles) and leave them there in orbit,since they can't re-enter?

Re:Well now, (4, Insightful)

masklinn (823351) | about 8 years ago | (#15101797)

They have way more success on their unmanned programs

Not really, space is not your local highway and a dozen dead astronauts over twice as many years is not that high of a price. They're aware of the risks involved (as any pilot is), the NASA is aware of them too, only the public ever cries bloody murder, but that's because the public is idiotic.

Many more lives will be lost during the conquest of space, it's part of the game, and the number of lives taken by the whole space conquest is still lower than the daily death toll of car accidents across the US.

Re:Well now, (5, Insightful)

ScottLindner (954299) | about 8 years ago | (#15101853)

"and the number of lives taken by the whole space conquest is still lower than the daily death toll of car accidents across the US."

No doubt.

Another point about manned and unmanned. The unmanned is great for simple things like this. It can go on and on doing very simple tasks and won't get tired of doing it. The manned flights are for sophisticated situations, but there's another less obvious point. PUshing to get people out there, will develop new technologies in life support that can be used for many other industries both in space, and here at home. Even if we develop great technologies to live in a colony on the moon, or on Mars, we can use those same technologies to extend our stay here on this planet. Since we're doing a good job of burning this one up that cannot support the numbers of people we have.

I know you are not protesting the manned space flight. I just wanted to comment that there are many great reasons for manned space flight that are less obvious than the per mission benefits of the manned flight itself. It would be very unwise to try to send a man to another galaxy on the first shot, if we never figured out how to do it locally first.

Cheers,
Scott

Re:Well now, (1)

patio11 (857072) | about 8 years ago | (#15102741)

The manned flights are for sophisticated situations, but there's another less obvious point. PUshing to get people out there, will develop new technologies in life support that can be used for many other industries both in space, and here at home. Even if we develop great technologies to live in a colony on the moon, or on Mars, we can use those same technologies to extend our stay here on this planet. Since we're doing a good job of burning this one up that cannot support the numbers of people we have.

OK, here's how this goes: supposing you believe that Earth is overpopulated, and I don't, then is the space program *ever* going to be an efficient method of alleviating that overpopulation? We pay, what, a couple million dollars to put a single digit number of people into Earth orbit for two weeks. How many multiples of the GDP of the planet would it take to migrate a couple million to Mars (not settle them there, just *get* them there), even if we decreased launch costs by a factor of a thousand?

And lets talk about technological advancement. Yep, I suppose you could use "space age technology" to make better hermetically sealed structures, Tang, microwaves, really cool pillows, or what have you. But all of these technologies were developed right here, on earth. There is no necessity after you have a space-pillow to blast the pillow into orbit (at a cost of like $10,000 per pillow) to verify "Hmm, yep, this pillow gives you the best sleep you will ever have in zero gravity. You'll wake up refreshed and ready to do your observations of how spiders react to prolonged weightlessness in the morning. Science and humanity salute you. Lets have a Tang to celebrate." You could take NASA's entire budget and just rename it the "Civilian and Military R&D Slush Fund" and it would be much more efficient, as it wouldn't continue wasting money on one of their big line-items: getting stuff out of the atmosphere.

Re:Well now, (1)

east coast (590680) | about 8 years ago | (#15102975)

You could take NASA's entire budget and just rename it the "Civilian and Military R&D Slush Fund" and it would be much more efficient, as it wouldn't continue wasting money on one of their big line-items: getting stuff out of the atmosphere.

yeah, forget shit like satelites... who needs that crap anyway. The billions spent on the R&D to get them there was wasted, nothing but a fad that will die down soon.

Re:Well now, (1)

posterlogo (943853) | about 8 years ago | (#15102182)

I tend to agree. NASA's obsession with the manned space program is political -- stemming back to Kennedy. It was worth the symbolism then. I'm not sure it is now. People are not ready for interplanetary missions, even the moon. We have to build solid, reliable, and affordable technology and that is not there yet. If this means starting from orbital missions and ISS, fine. The whole "Back to the Moon, Mars, and Beyond" BS by the current administration is nothing more than hot air and smoke (which, incidentally, is what happens when a space shuttle explodes).

NASA's science has been advanced far more by its unmanned missions than by its manned endeavors. They should continue with the manned program, but take it slowly (a good way of doing that would be to reduce its funding and stop cutting science missions instead).

Re:Well now, (1)

Zhiroc (909773) | about 8 years ago | (#15102199)

They have way more success on their unmanned programs

I don't want to denigrate NASA, but I don't really think that's the case. There have been a number of high-profile failed unmanned craft:

The Mars Polar Lander
The Mars Climate Orbiter
The Hubble telescope (which was only salvaged due to the ability of manned servicing missions)
Galileo (failed hi-gain antenna--mission salvaged using heroic means of using the low-gain antenna)
Genesis sample return crash

Of course, a failed unmanned mission is just a loss of money and science, and not a loss of life. But let's face it--this is bleeding edge stuff, and it fails a lot. If our manned program failed as much as the unmanned, we'd have given up long ago.

Re:Well now, (1)

solitas (916005) | about 8 years ago | (#15102808)

If our manned program failed as much as the unmanned, we'd have given up long ago.

How long did it take to recover from 'frozen O-rings"? How long will it take to recover from shreddable foam (that could have been fixed BEFORE it did some real damage)? How many Russian-rent-a-rides will there have to be to the "space station"? "Yeh, you betcha - we'll git back t' thet ther moon in the nex' hunnert years r'so"? (gwb)

We're giving up like the anecdotal frog in the slowly-warming water...

Actually the manned missions are more successful (1)

technoextreme (885694) | about 8 years ago | (#15102889)

hey have way more success on their unmanned programs (not to mention more bang for your buck).

It depends on what you mean by success. The Mars rover missions have failed more than 2/3 of the time. Those aren't really good odds.

Re:Well now, (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 8 years ago | (#15103557)

Once again we see the advantages of an unmanned space program over our manned one.
Just as point of reference - what Spirit has accomplished (in terms of ground covered and science performed) in a little over two years, could be accomplished by a trained geologist in a little over two weeks.

Movies in 30 years.. (1)

Null Perception (914562) | about 8 years ago | (#15101937)

Guess they can't make any more movies like apollo 13. Who the hell wants to see a movie about a rover making it to safety. The scene where all people in the control station clap and shake hands just wouldn't be the same...

1000 Years (2, Insightful)

darthservo (942083) | about 8 years ago | (#15101975)

It had been heading for a north-tilting spot to make sure its solar panels got enough sunlight during the imminent winter to survive, when a sand trap appeared.

Good thing it got around the "sand trap", otherwise it would have found a new definition of pain and suffering as it was slowly digested over a thousand years.

What a beautiful Martian landscape naming (2, Informative)

BadassJesus (939844) | about 8 years ago | (#15102062)

"McCool Hill", "Low Ridge Haven"

What a nice names! One thing I love about English and English naming in general is that English really cares about places and good naming habbits in general.

Most of the Americans take it as "a normal thing", but don't forget people that there are still nations and languges that do not care, they use latin characters like a whore, take languages of eastern Europe for example, full of phoneticaly written words that use latin characters in inproper/bad way. God bless America for choosing English. I myself speak two other languages in work and home, but more I know about English the more I like it. God safe Mars from Polish, Hungarian, Slovakian, Czech language influences.

Re:What a beautiful Martian landscape naming (1)

Feanturi (99866) | about 8 years ago | (#15102896)

I dunno about that...

From Woody's Point to Come by Chance,
To good ol' Fairyland!
Come take a look at Gander,
Blackhead's mighty grand!
Don't let the names deceive you,
Newfoundland's mighty fine.
So spend a night in Dildo,
If you think you've got the time.

Rovers are doing great. (1)

kahrytan (913147) | about 8 years ago | (#15102156)

Rovers are doing great. An inoperable motor for the front wheel means nothing. It's kind of in genius of them to simply program it to go in reverse instead of giving up on it. It will fulfill it's purpose after all.

  The rovers could end up helping during a manned flight to the planet. They could end up being the basis for future manned rovers.

Anyone volunteer for a Manned Rover trip?

Tag this one awesome! (3, Insightful)

jouvart (915737) | about 8 years ago | (#15102172)

We've already had plenty of "lame" tags on the stupid articles. It's time we started tagging stuff "awesome". If anything, the rovers most definitely deserve it for their progress.

Re:Tag this one awesome! (1)

capnez (873351) | about 8 years ago | (#15102582)

Done! Because this really is AWESOME! I never thought a US-American-built-vehicle could get such great gas mileage.

Re:Tag this one awesome! (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | about 8 years ago | (#15103270)

Maybe because it doesn't use gas? Aside from the problem of schlepping gasoline 50-60 million miles, it probably wouldn't ignite/burn very well in Mars' low-oxygen atmosphere.

Re:Tag this one awesome! (1)

Idarubicin (579475) | about 8 years ago | (#15103742)

We've already had plenty of "lame" tags on the stupid articles. It's time we started tagging stuff "awesome". If anything, the rovers most definitely deserve it for their progress.

Dude, read the article.

The rover has one broken wheel. In just about the most literal way possible...

...it is lame.

See what the rovers & drivers see (3, Interesting)

HoneyBeeSpace (724189) | about 8 years ago | (#15102765)

It is a shame that Maestro [telascience.org] appears to have stopped updating their data.

Still, it is excellent software, and fun to use even if you don't get where Spirit is today. With Maestro you can see what the rovers see, and what the rover operators and instruments see... Actual software used in mission control.
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