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Mars Rovers Moving After Winter Hibernation

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the kicking-the-dust-off dept.

Mars 82

jcasman writes to mention an article at Astronomy.com discussing the now on-the-move Mars rovers, which have been effectively in hibernation over the long Martian winter. Spirit has been stationary in the Columbia Hills area, just barely powered up and taking the finest panoramic shot of the planet to date. On the other side of the world, Opportunity has been skulking around the Victoria crater. Scientists have been getting to know the area before attempting to send Opportunity into the geographical feature itself. "Opportunity now is traversing Victoria's rim, and mission scientists are naming features they find after places visited by Ferdinand Magellan and his crew during the first circumnavigation of Earth. (Victoria Crater itself is named after the lone ship that completed Magellan's quest.) [Steve Squyres of Cornell University] and his team are committed to driving Opportunity into the crater eventually, if they're sure the rover will be safe -- in other words, that they can get it out again. Squyres is confident they can, and he thinks it will be sooner rather than later."

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82 comments

The #1 Threat to America (3, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381179)

jcasman writes to mention an article at Astronomy.com discussing the now on-the-move Mars rovers, which have been effectively in hibernation over the long Martian winter.

I knew it. This is just more evidence of the vast bear conspiracy that's mauling our government from the inside out.

Re:The #1 Threat to America (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381335)

We need a national bear patrol to stop this threat!

Re:The #1 Threat to America (2, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381441)

It's o.k., I have a rock.

Re:The #1 Threat to America (1)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381507)

It's o.k., I have a rock.

That rock sucks. It only keeps tigers away.

I need a cigarette (5, Funny)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381233)

Thanks, Slashdot.

Opportunity has been skulking around the Victoria crater.

Opportunity now is traversing Victoria's rim, ... ... driving Opportunity into the crater ... ... they can get it out again
You just made my Friday.

Re:I need a cigarette (4, Funny)

regularstranger (1074000) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381301)

You know you're a nerd when you use an interplanetary probe to investigate your lady.

Re:I need a cigarette (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18382245)

Gives a whole new meaning to exploring "Heavenly Bodies"...

Re:I need a cigarette (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18382747)

You know you're a nerd when you use an interplanetary probe to investigate your lady.

Double nerdpoints if it feels better than live touching.
       

Re:I need a cigarette (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18383197)

In Soviet Russia, interplanetary probes you!

Re:I need a cigarette (1)

robgue (829997) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381605)

"Opportunity now is traversing Victoria's rim, and mission scientists are naming features they find after places visited by Ferdinand Magellan and his crew during the first circumnavigation of Earth. (Victoria Crater itself is named after the lone ship that completed Magellan's quest.) Magellan ruled out Victoria Piehole, Victoria Analcherry and Victoria CowboyNeal before deciding on the latter.

Re:I need a cigarette (1)

geschild (43455) | more than 7 years ago | (#18382085)

Thanks, L Vegas.

"You just made my Friday."
And you just made my weekend...

The mars rovers produce imagery so vivid, I think I can touch it! :P

Re:I need a pun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18385633)


Now, traversing Victoria's rim IS quite the opportunity...

strangely erotic (3, Funny)

mattkime (8466) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381263)

>>Opportunity now is traversing Victoria's rim

anyone else find that strangely erotic?

Re:strangely erotic (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18381285)

>>anyone else find that strangely erotic?

Sure. They guy that just posted 2 before you did.

Re:strangely erotic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18382063)

Nah. Erotic would be if Opportunity had discovered Victoria's secret.

WDFD! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18381313)

Woop....dee....fucking.....dooo!

Re:WDFD! (3, Insightful)

imaginaryelf (862886) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381421)

Considering that these rovers were initally spec'ed for a 90 day mission, the fact that they are still going after 3 years is something worth celebrating.

Re:WDFD! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381581)

Considering that these rovers were initally spec'ed for a 90 day mission, the fact that they are still going after 3 years is something worth celebrating.

Recently a search took me to a Sprit status report from about sol 60 which described the rover as "almost middle aged"

Re:WDFD! (2, Informative)

Gertlex (722812) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381721)

Considering that these rovers were initally spec'ed for a 90 day mission, the fact that they are still going after 3 years is something worth celebrating.

Recently a search took me to a Sprit status report from about sol 60 which described the rover as "almost middle aged"

It might be that this "aging" was judged in part by the output of the solar panels. The winds or whatever that keep the panels clean probably don't do a complete job. They probably slowed the initial buildup so that middle age in terms of output arrived later, i.e. day 60 instead of day 45. Beyond that, we know it eventually leveled off, with the solar panels remaining usable at some level pretty much constantly for the last few years.

Re:WDFD! (4, Insightful)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381623)

I'll agree. Though as I understand it (and I may be wrong), at least part of the reason that the rovers were spec'ed for 90 days was that NASA believed that the solar panels would end up covered in dust and be unable to generate power. Conveniently enough, there appears to be a nice breeze which is blowing dust off the solar panels so that they can continue to work.

I wonder what might happen when they drive the rover into the crater. If the end up driving it somewhere where this isn't much of a wind, will the solar panels get covered in dust and stop working?

Also--raging personal opinion based on no facts whatsoever--I think NASA low-balled on purpose. It's easier to ask for money to "extend the mission" than it is to ask for the money in the first place. If NASA had asked for the money to run two rovers around Mars for three years, they'd've been shot down. But once you have the rover on the surface and it's running, it's easier to go and say, "Hey, we've already spent this money and the equipment is still working so can we have more money to keep it running?"

It's a good way to deal with government bureaucracy...

Re:WDFD! (2, Interesting)

karnal (22275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381895)

I wonder what might happen when they drive the rover into the crater. If the end up driving it somewhere where this isn't much of a wind, will the solar panels get covered in dust and stop working?
Another thought would be: If there isn't much of a wind, is there any dust being kicked up?

Re:WDFD! (2, Insightful)

lgftsa (617184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18383223)

Unfortunately, dust kicked up elsewhere can travel long distances in the atmosphere before landing.

Re:WDFD! (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18382163)

I think the wind issue is likely.

Regarding the low-balling: The 90 day mission time and the driving distance goal were based on the performance of the previous Pathfinder mission. That one lasted about 3 times as long as it was supposed to before what was probably an electrical failure ended the mission. During that time, they also monitored the gradually decreasing power as the solar cells dirtied. Based on the data and improvements to the rovers, they made their estimates.

90 days (and 600 meters driving, and I think X number of observations) was actually the requirement for them to be able to call the mission a success. The mission budget included a 90 day operating extension if everything looked good at that point. Furthermore, there was a 180 day extended mission (with slightly reduced staff) if they were still rolling well after 6 months. Effectively, they needed 90 days, they built them to last 180 days, and were hoping for 360.

When 1 year passed, they actually had get a special budget allocation from Congress to keep running. 2 years later, most of the team has moved on to other projects and a lot of the tasks have been automated, but they're still running with a purpose.

The rover team has repeatedly expressed pleasant flabbergastation at their performance. They're probably more surprised than the rest of the world. I know it's going to be tough for them when the rovers finally do kick the bucket, or harder yet, are abandoned to focus resources on newer projects like MSL.

Re:WDFD! (1)

danlock4 (1026420) | more than 7 years ago | (#18382471)

The rover team has repeatedly expressed pleasant flabbergastation at their performance.
I've always unquestionably enjoyed pleasant flabbergastation!

Re:WDFD! (1)

tbischel (862773) | more than 7 years ago | (#18382501)

"Hey, we've already spent this money and the equipment is still working so can we have more money to keep it running?"
It's a good way to deal with government bureaucracy...


I thought that was by definition government bureaucracy

Re:WDFD! (3, Informative)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18382817)

Conveniently enough, there appears to be a nice breeze which is blowing dust off the solar panels

Actually, they think it is whirl-winds because the "cleaning" seem to happen suddenly (power increase the next day).

into the crater. If the end up driving it somewhere where this isn't much of a wind, will the solar panels get covered in dust and stop working?

Actually, I think the first detected cleaning was *in* Endurance crater. They speculated that being inside the crater created water vapor condensation on the solar panels, making it easier for movement or wind to push it off. There are even images of frost on the rover. But in the end, nobody knows for sure, other than the cleaning comes and goes.

Re:WDFD! (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 7 years ago | (#18383071)

If you were go back to the start of the mission and tell Squyers and his team that the rovers - both of them - would still be chugging along after this long, they would have thought you a lunatic. No one, particularly the ones involved, hoped or expected the rovers to continue functioning, let alone moving and providing loads of data for over three years.

They didn't ask for a three-year mission because, at the time, they didn't think it possible; or at least, they couldn't guarantee it on any reasonable budget. The assumption about the solar panels of the rovers becoming dusted over was a pretty good one, since that had happened with previous missions. They just happened to luck out with those scrubbing dust devils. Ninety days: sure, they could do that, and even that seemingly brief period would have been outstanding. The Pathfinder lander in 1997, with its little Sojourner rover, only lasted that long and it was a wildly successful mission that captivated the public eye.

I won't deny your premise, however, that it is easy to start off with a conservative goal you are pretty sure you can make, and then see how far you can milk it. I'm not sure that they do it because they fear asking for more money upfront, though. I think they fear not achieving what they told everyone they would do. Careers and reputations are at stake in this kind of thing, and success at a modest goal seems better than failure at a more ambitious goal. It hasn't always been so, of course, Kennedy and the Apollo program is an apt counterexample.

It does seem to happen a lot with planetary spacecraft - or at least those fortunately enough to survive to the end of their original mission length - they get their missions extended. It is a lot cheaper to extend a mission that is already there than it is to send a replacement. Why do you think no one wants to see the Hubble retired? The recently lost Mars Global Surveyor was in its third two-year extension, after a five-year primary mission, when it finally kicked the bucket. Low-balling and then exceeding expectations is part of the Scottie school of engineering. It is, as you put it, a good way of working within a bureaucracy.

Re:WDFD! (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385103)

They just happened to luck out with those scrubbing dust devils. Ninety days: sure, they could do that, and even that seemingly brief period would have been outstanding. The Pathfinder lander in 1997, with its little Sojourner rover, only lasted that long and it was a wildly successful mission that captivated the public eye.

Meanwhile, the poor devil with the sign "will clean solar panels for food" is still standing there waiting for his tip.

Re:WDFD! (1)

Cherita Chen (936355) | more than 7 years ago | (#18383173)

I wonder what might happen when they drive the rover into the crater. If the end up driving it somewhere where this isn't much of a wind, will the solar panels get covered in dust and stop working?

Take a look at a photo of Victoria Crater [nasa.gov] , taken by the HiRISE [arizona.edu] camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance orbiter (look close and you can actually see Opportunity sitting atop a ridge overlooking Duck Bay). Notice the sand dunes in the bottom of the crater. Aeolian features like these aren't probable in the absence of wind. Additionally, I doubt Dr. Squyres, et al., would bet the life of their mission on something like this w/out a clear understanding of his target, and the probability of making it out alive.

Re:WDFD! (1)

Perseid (660451) | more than 7 years ago | (#18383297)

Conveniently enough, there appears to be a nice breeze which is blowing dust off the solar panels so that they can continue to work.

Either that or the Martians have found a new god and are worshiping it with Windex.

First rule in government spending... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18385041)

Why buy one, when you can have two at twice the price.

Re:WDFD! (0, Offtopic)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381995)

I wonder if one can bet on rover duration in Vegas. Everything else is bettable in Vegas.

NASA reports... (5, Funny)

dedazo (737510) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381317)

... that after the first attempt to move the rover without success, they pointed the camera down and realized that the little guy was propped up on four cinder blocks...

Re:NASA reports... (1)

StarkRG (888216) | more than 7 years ago | (#18384277)

They called MAA (Mars Automobile Association), and they told them they'd be there between an hour and an hour and a half. Two hours later the tow-rover arrived, but the scientists realized that they'd left their membership card at home, which was several million miles away. Bummer. And besides, they'd already used their three visit limit after they locked their keys in the rover several times.

McMurdo Panorama (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18381463)

Here's that finest panoramic shot in Quicktime VR format: http://www.fotoausflug.de/en-mars.html [fotoausflug.de]

caution, not QT but Shockwave (not flash) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18382391)


the page linked opens a Shockwave applet (no not flash but the other one) which dutifully crashed Firefox (thanks macromedia/adobe)

Re:caution, not QT but Shockwave (not flash) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18382475)

Depending on the installed plugins, the page uses Shockwave, Quicktime, Java, Flash, GLPanoview, PangeaVR, DevalVR or plain Javascript+HTML.

Re:McMurdo Panorama (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18385547)

It is an amazing pic, but by being so realistic it just shows you why so many of those born after the excitement of the moon race years fail to be overwhelmed by space exploration. Because there's nothing there but a bunch of rocks. (Okay, and -- hot news -- some caves). Or as Dave Barry puts it so eloquently...

"Today we are pretty sure that nobody lives on Mars, at least not year-round. We base this on the fact that NASA has spent hundreds of millions of dollars sending unmanned probes up there, and they have sent back thousands of pictures, all of them showing: rocks.

As I write these words, we have yet another probe scooting around on Mars, and it has been sending back exquisitely detailed photographs of: rocks. At this point, I, for one, am willing to stipulate that Mars is, basically, covered with rocks, but our space scientists apparently do not intend to stop until they obtain photographs of every last one of them.

Which leads us to the president's plan for getting to Mars, which consists of four stages:

Stage One: We set up a base on the Moon (...)

Stage Four: They blast off again, and, after a difficult, tedious and extremely dangerous six-month space voyage, arrive--if all goes well--on Mars, where they find: rocks. So the benefits are obvious. "


http://www.poly.rpi.edu/article_view.php3?view=284 2&part=1 [rpi.edu]

What? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381475)

Is it just me or does it look like there is a mining raod leading to a city in the background of the pictures?

Re:What? (1)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381529)

I was wondering what that groove (road) was myself. When stuck in Tyrone, you can see two Rover wheel tracks. But in the last panorama, only one - maybe spirit was so happy after getting unstuck, it started celebrating by playing some Snoop Dog and flipping the switches to ride on one side.

Re:What? (1)

Proofof. Chaos (1067060) | more than 7 years ago | (#18383697)

That is a mining road. That thing's not really on mars. I stumbled accross it one day while hiking in the desert. I wrote some graffiti on it, that's why the none of the pictures show the rover itself. It's the same place they faked the moon landings.

Re:What? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18387405)

thats a load off,.. For a minute there I was thinking that a mobile science lab was set up by the martian population to investigate what the rover was doing while in it's hibernation. I was afraid it powered down, the martion set up cammand post alpha and we were about to see first hand what a martian probe really looked like

Interview with Mars Rover drivers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18381559)

Digital Village Radio [digitalvillage.org] will be interviewing Scott Maxwell and John Wright, two Mars Rover drivers next Saturday (3/24/2007). Scott co-wrote (along with Frank Hartman) the August 2004 Linux Journal article Driving the Mars Rovers [linuxjournal.com] about the use of Linux and OSS by the Rover team. Scott is also the author of Linux Core Kernel Commentary.

Things have really changed in space exploration (5, Funny)

cyberbob2351 (1075435) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381597)

Man's first words on another world:

That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

Machine's

Hello world.

Re:Things have really changed in space exploration (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381881)

Machine's [first words]: Hello World

More likely: Error in updater. Press 'C' to continue: __
   

Re:Things have really changed in space exploration (1)

abshnasko (981657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381993)

Sorry to nitpick, but it was: "One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind"

Re:Things have really changed in space exploration (1)

cyberbob2351 (1075435) | more than 7 years ago | (#18382229)

If I recall correctly, thats what he was supposedly supposed to say, but he goofed.

Re:Things have really changed in space exploration (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18382683)

and If I also recall correctly, recent review of the tapes suggested that he did in fact say it correctly, but there was some kind of error in transmission.

Re:Things have really changed in space exploration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18382875)

recent reviews indicate NASA attempts to gloss over embarrassing incident.

The dude even admitted he cocked it up.

Re:Things have really changed in space exploration (1)

Proofof. Chaos (1067060) | more than 7 years ago | (#18383743)

Actually, he meant to say, "That's one giant leap for a man, but one small step for mankind" I read the "leap" to mean leaping from the earth to the moon, and the "small step for mankind" as indicating that he foresaw us traveling much further in space.

Solar system rovers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18381637)

I know this isn't popular on slashdot, but I'd love to see these rovers all over every rocky body in the solar system. . .different designs for different environments of course, but couldn't you image how cool a robotic boat surfing a methane sea on some moon would be? Honestly, I see no reason or usefulness for manned exploration, especially how much further that money could go on robotic missions. We could learn so much at the logical cost of "wow, people are walking there."

Re:Solar system rovers (3, Interesting)

SageMusings (463344) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381725)

It's a lot colder on those distant Jovian and Saturnian moons and the amount of sunlight would not be enough to charge the alreay too cold batteries.

We would need a new design.

Re:Solar system rovers (3, Informative)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381801)

but couldn't you image how cool a robotic boat surfing a methane sea on some moon would be?

The Huygens (spell?) probe had a chance to land on a likely lake. The area just happened to be dry at the time but was suspected to be a lake-bed or at least a flood plane. Bummer. It was even designed to float. Maybe next time...
     

They must be running Windows XP: Space Edition (4, Funny)

bluemonq (812827) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381667)

I can only get my XP Pro to wake up out of hibernate mode about 30% of the time...

Re:They must be running Windows XP: Space Edition (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381951)

I can only get my XP Pro to wake up out of hibernate mode about 30% of the time...

Just type "install linux" and it will be up and going in no time.
     

Re:They must be running Windows XP: Space Edition (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18383113)

Microsoft Windows XP [Version 5.1.2600]
(C) Copyright 1985-2001 Microsoft Corp.

C:\Documents and Settings\anonymous coward>install linux
'install' is not recognized as an internal or external command,
operable program or batch file.

C:\Documents and Settings\anonymous coward>
Hmm, do i have to download some additional updates or patches first? It doesn't seem to be in the default install.

Too Cautious (3, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18381717)

I don't know why they are so cautious about going into Victoria crater. The bot is already on borrowed time and they've been thru the process with Endurance crater. The crater walls look similar to Endurance's. Go for it, people. So what if there is a risk of not getting out; there is not much around besides the crater anyhow unless you drive another 7 miles or so. If you wait too long the bot will bust before you ever drill a single wall/rock in that crater.

Re:Too Cautious (3, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18382253)

Because short of finding life on Mars, the rovers are more important than exploring yet another crater. Every so often the press lacks a good article, and they end up giving NASA some good press, "birthdays", going into hibernation, coming out of hibernation, anything. Right now milking that record for everything it's worth is probably the smartest thing they can do. After all, they must have run out of primary targets, secondary targets and tertiary targets by now, they're just making it up as they go along. They can cruise along the flattest plains they can find until something eventually breaks, and it'll still be a huge success. "Mars rovers record run over because NASA drove it stuck in a crater" is just about the only "WTF can't you do this right?" mistake they can make at this point.

Re:Too Cautious (3, Informative)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | more than 7 years ago | (#18382437)

Victoria isn't just "yet another crater". There are no other reachable opportunities that are close to as interesting.

I'm pretty sure I saw a quote a while back saying they would go in even if they didn't think the rover could get back out, as long as they thought it would still be operational after the descent. They do want to examine the rim first, since they may well not get another chance, and they need to find a safe way down.

Re:Too Cautious (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18382727)

Victoria isn't just "yet another crater". There are no other reachable opportunities that are close to as interesting.

Plus it is the deepest crater that Opportunity has yet to investigate. It may reveal layers older than anything yet seen and thus is perhaps the biggest scientific target oppy has encountered so far.

They do want to examine the rim first, since they may well not get another chance

But what is so important about the rim? The real scientific pay-dirt would probably come from drilling the crater walls on the way down, at the lowest part of the rocky strands. Plus, they still have a good view of the crater parts from within. I think past reliability has made them too cautious, the opposite of "irrational excuberence" where they get used to the rover being there the next morning. Go in and drill and then look around. There is plenty to see in there; it is four times bigger than Endurance. The loss due to getting stuck inside would be minor. It is like getting locked in a candy store.

If oppy finds a deeper crater further out, it may be too deep to go in, and if it finds a smaller one, it won't see the deep layers. Do to thermal cycling making cracks in electronics, it can croak any day without warning. There are known areas of the bot without redundancy. Plus, going around the rim could wear out the wheels, like Spirit, making even entering difficult. The risk calculations are suspect. I suspect beurocratic games are at stake.

F the condoms, go in boy!
         

Re:Too Cautious (1)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | more than 7 years ago | (#18383681)

Rushing in precipitously would have endangered the rover and lost the easily available data about the rim. The rim of the crater is not exactly like the surrounding plains, and I'm sure there is some interest in the situation there.

Spending too long checking out the rim and descent routes runs the risk of the rover failing before it gets to the good stuff.

Somewhere in between there must be a happy medium. If were up to me I'd probably opt to go faster, but I trust their judgment much more than mine.

Re:Too Cautious (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18383711)

Rushing in precipitously would have endangered the rover and lost the easily available data about the rim. The rim of the crater is not exactly like the surrounding plains, and I'm sure there is some interest in the situation there.

There may be, but inside seems to be where one is more likely to find evidence of the oldest layers. Plus, the rover is fairly likely to be able to get back out; and it has already explored the rim to a fair extent. Go for the buffalo first, and get the rabbits later.
               

Re: "find a safe way down" (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18383403)

and they need to find a safe way down.

Many of the slopes they already investigated don't look noticably steeper than those used in Endurance[1], and slippage was well within tolerance in Endurance. (It did have big slippage problems on some of the Endurance banks it was investigating, but not entry/exit.)

[1] I haven't formally measured, I should point out.
             

Re:Too Cautious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18382909)

Yea, but think of the big story from 'Mars Rover's Final Crater Death Plunge!', I remember they got on the 9 o'Clock news when they sent Galileo on it's kamikaze dive into Jupiter.

Re:Too Cautious (1)

Shadowlore (10860) | more than 7 years ago | (#18388115)

The bot is already on borrowed time and they've been thru the process with Endurance crater.

So in your opinion your car/truck is on borrowed time when it runs out of warranty? After all that's a pretty fair comparison. Nobody on the rover teams said the rovers wouldn't keep working, they only planned on a mission duration. The automakers don't say your car will drop dead after three years or 36000 miles; that's just the duration they plan to "support" it. And like the rover teams' extension, most if not all new car manufacturers will sell you warranty extensions.

Don't like the car metaphor? Fine go with electronics. Is your TV on borrowed time because it is out of it's 90 day warranty? Here too the stores will sell you extended warranties.

Sure the rovers are rather cool but to say they are on borrowed time is just useless hype.

Northern hemisphere bias? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18384075)

which have been effectively in hibernation over the long Martian winter.

There is more than one Martian winter, you insensitive clod!

Ferdinand Magellan, Portuguese Fernão de Maga (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18384393)

Just to say that: Ferdinand Magellan (Portuguese: Fernão de Magalhães; Spanish: Fernando or Hernando de Magallanes; Spring 1480-April 27, 1521) was a Portuguese born maritime explorer who, at the service of Spain, attempted to find a westward route to the Spice Islands of Indonesia. in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferdinand_Magellan [wikipedia.org]
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