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Spirit and Opportunity Are Back Online

kdawson posted about 7 years ago | from the back-after-a-good-long-hunker dept.

Mars 145

PinkyGigglebrain sends us news that the Mars rovers have survived the dust storms that have swept the surface of Mars for the last 6 weeks. How well they survived remains to be seen. Due to a combination of dust still suspended in the atmosphere and dust on the rovers' solar panels, they are only producing about half the power they normally would. The article is a little sparse on the exact health of the rovers but it's good to know they are still with us.

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First post.. (0)

mobby_6kl (668092) | about 7 years ago | (#20447647)

from Mars!

Ehm, anyway, it's nice to know they're still alive, but it would be interesting to see how the reduced power affects the rovers.

Simple Advice (3, Informative)

VernonNemitz (581327) | about 7 years ago | (#20447753)

WAIT. Eventually a Martian dust-devil will pass over a rover, and after this "cleaning event" [space.com] occurs, THEN is the time to start significant operations again.

Re:Simple Advice (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20448009)

What a bunch of NASA lies!

The REAL truth is that both rovers are zombie robots, and have been for years. My advice is to send nukes immediately before the find a way to get back to Earth!

Re:Simple Advice (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 7 years ago | (#20448527)

NASA lies! The REAL truth is that both rovers are zombie robots, and have been for years. My advice is to send nukes immediately before the find a way to get back to Earth!

This is your brain on too much cheezy sci-fi.
     

And I Told my Maid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20448593)

Not to get near these two rovers. We didn't want the IRS to know where we were.

Re:Simple Advice (1)

confused one (671304) | about 7 years ago | (#20448763)

Nope. Do what you can with the power you have now. The work done will accumulate more slowly; but, you're still making progress. When (if) the "cleaning event" occurs, ramp up operations.

Re:Simple Advice (1)

somersault (912633) | about 7 years ago | (#20450259)

Why not just have wipers on the solar panels? Or a vibrate and anti-static function like you get on CCDs in digital cameras.

Re:Simple Advice (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | about 7 years ago | (#20450289)

wipers would have meant extra mass.

Also, they originally thought the rover would only last three months.

Re:Simple Advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20448791)

This is what we get by NOT sending Roombas to Mars. All we had to do was send a couple hundred of them to sweep the place clean and make it safe for the scientific probes. It would only have two small problems. 1) where to empty the sand, and 2) it might take awhile to finish. PS. I am 26 years old and in 7th grade in California.

Don't mess around with the Register... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20447673)

So the site didn't get too many details? Just go to the NASA page... Convienient NASA website [nasa.gov]

More-convenient Mars Rovers page (5, Informative)

AySz88 (1151141) | about 7 years ago | (#20447759)

Here's the actual mission site that has more than just multimedia: http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.html [nasa.gov] The mission status update page is particularly helpful: http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/status.html [nasa.gov]

Re:More-convenient Mars Rovers page (1)

E8086 (698978) | about 7 years ago | (#20448193)

So how long until all the 'science content' is done and they can go for some of the fun pictures, some historical and some fun - the crash and burn kind(if Mars had enough O2 for that). It would be nice to see how the Viking landers are holding up after 30+ years of sitting on Mars and maybe hit reboot button and recharge the batteries. And can't forget about some nice hi-res close ups of the wreckage of the Beagle 2, and maybe the polar lander if there's time.

Now for the Mars challenge: Build a rover/go kart to drive around the planet(best time wins) and since it's not on Earth there's no need to worry about any speed limits or anyone complaining about how your killing off the local wild life. And if you happen to discover some local wild life then there just might the Nobel prize in attempted chemistry in it for you. If they all pay the same does it really matter what it's called?

Re:More-convenient Mars Rovers page (3, Insightful)

confused one (671304) | about 7 years ago | (#20448711)

You do realize they measure progress in feet per day? Yeah, Mars is smaller than Earth, but it's not THAT small.

Re:More-convenient Mars Rovers page (1)

Benaiah (851593) | about 7 years ago | (#20449213)

Just like life on earth the rovers need to evolve...
Maybe they could grow a shell... THat way they could hide during the dust storms, and then come out all clean.
Or maybe they could just grow solar cell wipers

But! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20447797)

But the NASA article doesn't include the word 'boffin', what's the point of a science article without that? I'll stick with El Rego!

These are hardy/lucky little machines! (4, Funny)

Sneakernets (1026296) | about 7 years ago | (#20447679)

I'm so glad these machines made it, I was seriously concerned if we would get any more information from these rovers. From what I heard, it would have been many months for replacements to arrive, and that would only be if there would be replacements at all.

Go, Spirit and Opportunity!

Re:These are hardy/lucky little machines! (0)

Tuoqui (1091447) | about 7 years ago | (#20447735)

Yeah now if only they could build a car as durable as these things

Re:These are hardy/lucky little machines! (2, Insightful)

Blahbooboo3 (874492) | about 7 years ago | (#20447857)

They can, you just wouldn't want to pay for it... :)

Re:These are hardy/lucky little machines! (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | about 7 years ago | (#20448089)

Yeah now if only they could build a car as durable as these things

We certainly got our moneys' worth out of these rovers, that's for sure.

Yeah, it'd be nice for us the consumer if we could get cars that would last a similar amount of time. But that would be seriously bad for the auto manufacturers, the auto making unions, and a few zillion other people as well. Don't expect to see it happen in our lifetimes...

Re:These are hardy/lucky little machines! (2, Insightful)

NormalVisual (565491) | about 7 years ago | (#20448125)

I'd settle for just a durable power window mechanism, instead of those Bowden cable pieces of shit they use now.

Re:These are hardy/lucky little machines! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20448391)

Yeah now if only they could build a car as durable as these things

Well, I'd bet that if you took a new Jeep out to the desert, then only put 7 miles on it in 3-1/2 years, even that shoddily made vehicle would still be in pretty good shape.

Amazing (4, Informative)

fishthegeek (943099) | about 7 years ago | (#20447687)

I used to think that there was just NO WAY that R2D2 could take the kind of crap he took and still survive... who'd of thought. Those robots are completely amazing to me. Designed for a 90 day mission, and here we are at over 13 times that number of days. The best part of the mission is all of the fantastic images they have sent. Check them out here [nasa.gov]

Re:Amazing (4, Funny)

MouseR (3264) | about 7 years ago | (#20447871)

Designed for a 90 day mission, and here we are at over 13 times that number of days

Well, the S.S. Minnow's crew was out only for a 3 hour tour and see how long they lasted on that island?

Re:Amazing (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 7 years ago | (#20448509)

Well, the S.S. Minnow's crew was out only for a 3 hour tour and see how long they lasted on that island?

Because the Professor whipped up some nuclear-powered coconuts.
       

Re:Amazing (1)

JNighthawk (769575) | about 7 years ago | (#20449043)

That is one of the funniest things I've read in a while. I expect this type of comedy gold from Fark, not from Slashdot :-)

Re:Amazing (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about 7 years ago | (#20447967)

Well, they were never designed to be worn out after three months, they were supposed to be out of power because of dust build-up. The reason they could pass that limit is the surprising discovery that there's enough wind to clear the panels, not some feat of engineering. Still, you have to be impressed by the overengineering done in every part of the construction to let it go so far beyond the expected scope.

I don't really get the comparison with R2D2 though, these robots are completely sealed up robots that have taken no kind of "beating", yes they've driven in hostile climate but it's all on the outside with no nasty tumbles. The way R2D2 was getting beat up he probably got all kinds of impact shock, dirt and grime in its system which would almost certainly rendered it unfunctional. To say nothing of C3PO which was torn apart several times...

Re:Amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20448111)

>I don't really get the comparison with R2D2 though

This is because you haven't gleaned the reason why the OP has the quote he does as a signature: He's increasing the boundries of stupidity towards infinity. And, it appears, based on the moderation, that he has companions on his journey as well.

Re:Amazing (1)

colourmyeyes (1028804) | about 7 years ago | (#20447969)

Here's the best picture. [nasa.gov]

Seriously, this Mars rover business is really freakin' cool. It actually has me rooting for a robot, just because these things will not quit.

Re:Amazing (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 7 years ago | (#20447973)

I used to think that there was just NO WAY that R2D2 could take the kind of crap he took and still survive... who'd of thought. Those robots are completely amazing to me. Designed for a 90 day mission, and here we are at over 13 times that number of days.
You do know that this was the estimate of the time it would take for the dust to cover the solar panels to the point where they ould be inoperable?
Turns out wind clears up dust on Mars AND on Earth! Whowouldathought?

The nifty dirt devil helped, too.

Re:Amazing (3, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | about 7 years ago | (#20448399)

I used to think that there was just NO WAY that R2D2 could take the kind of crap he took and still survive... who'd of thought. Those robots are completely amazing to me.

The Force is with them.
       

Re:Amazing (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20448587)

Designed for a 90 day mission, and here we are at over 13 times that number of days.
 
maybe the idea was to understate the expected lifespan of the robots and this would me it seem as if we (the taxpayer) got our moneys worth even if they didn't live up to their creators expectations.
 
now joe sixpack gets to look at the lifespan and, if nothing else, at least thinks he got more than his moneys worth for all the trouble that nasa went through. granted, there are a ton of shitballs out there who would hardly take this into consideration but i'm sure a few people who think we're just wasting money on space are somewhat impressed by the durability of these two vehicles.
 
after all, rednecks are impressed by pickup truck commercials where they carry a few tons of building materials even though they know that the most that will ever be put into most of these trucks is a hunter's tree stand and a couple cases of beer.

Re:Amazing (1)

theorem4 (1101729) | about 7 years ago | (#20448919)

Re:Amazing (1)

jombeewoof (1107009) | about 7 years ago | (#20449225)

They have to block out the aliens.
We can't know the truth.

Re:Amazing (1)

bilabrin (1127623) | about 7 years ago | (#20449997)

Designed for a 90 day mission, and here we are at over 13 times that number of days

They're like the Maccabees of Mars!

Ideas for next time? (4, Interesting)

Wilson_6500 (896824) | about 7 years ago | (#20447689)

I suppose if we send another rover to Mars, they might--out of optimism--include a way for the solar panels to free themselves of dust? I know they supposedly didn't expect the rovers to last for quite this long, but it seems like being proactive about this sort of thing really wouldn't hurt for the next time around. I imagine it'd have to be a pretty low-energy method for doing so, and if it's really fine dust it might be a tough job. Maybe piezoeletrically vibrating the panels, if they're set at an angle, would work.

Re:Ideas for next time? (4, Funny)

scoot80 (1017822) | about 7 years ago | (#20447723)

I think getting an extra arm with a dust wiping cloth would be a good idea too. Maybe two arms - one that sprays Windex, and the other one to polish. Might be a little energy inefficient, but quicker.

Re:Ideas for next time? (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | about 7 years ago | (#20448205)

This guy is a genius!! Where can I send money to??

Re:Ideas for next time? (2, Informative)

Strider- (39683) | about 7 years ago | (#20448807)

It's very simple. They had the opportunity to put on a panel cleaning system that may or may not be effective, or launch another scientific instrument. The weight and power budget did not allow for both. They made the right choice.

Re:Ideas for next time? (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | about 7 years ago | (#20447727)

The problem isn't necessarily dust on the panels, but dust in the atmosphere. Only reliable way I can think of to overcome that problem would be nuclear power, or very large batteries.

Re:Ideas for next time? (3, Informative)

Tablizer (95088) | about 7 years ago | (#20448497)

The problem isn't necessarily dust on the panels, but dust in the atmosphere.

It's both actually. The dust in the atmosphere appears to be settling on the rovers as it settles from the sky. Spirit's microscope became fogged with dust during the storm because of this and they are taking images to assess the damage and to use as reference images to attempt to digitally correct the distortion caused by the dust. I've read that both rovers are currently performing tests of most their instruments to assess dust pollution. If they know the extent of the pollution they can correct for some of it by subtracting out the changes. However, this reduces total sensitivity.
     

Re:Ideas for next time? (2, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | about 7 years ago | (#20447751)

The next Mars lander Phoenix [arizona.edu] launched last month. It will arrive in May next year.

Although it's not a "rover" it does have solar panels for power. I believe there is no way to clean the solar panels of dust.

So, in short, no, lesson not learned.

Re:Ideas for next time? (2, Insightful)

arthurpaliden (939626) | about 7 years ago | (#20447989)

The lesson has been learned. The problem is how do you get permission to launch a satalite with a nuclear (alpha partical emitter) power genarator when you get every brain dead anti-nuclear chicken little screaming that you will cause the death of all humanity.

Re:Ideas for next time? (3, Interesting)

isotope123 (1151153) | about 7 years ago | (#20448311)

The Phoenix lander is going to the pole, so it isn't expected to survive long enough for dust on the panels to be a problem. The mision is 90 days. Once winter comes, the probe will be frozen in carbon dioxide ice, which will pretty much kill it. I believe they plan to try to talk to it again when summer comes the next martian year, just in case it survives though. The next Mars Rover, the MSL is planned for launch in September 09 and will be powered by a RTG (radioisotope thermoelectric generator). Same as what the Voyager probes used and they are still going 30 years later.

Re:Ideas for next time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20449805)

so it isn't expected to survive long enough for dust on the panels to be a problem. The mision is 90 days.

You don't say... it's a new one!

Re:Ideas for next time? (1)

cbreaker (561297) | about 7 years ago | (#20448343)

While I'm sure there's plenty of people working on these things that know a hell of a lot more then I do, I've never been satisfactorily explained why you can't wipe dust off of a panel of glass?

They sent the damned thing to mars - you'd think they'd be able to adapt a wiper to work on it.

Re:Ideas for next time? (1)

RealityMogul (663835) | about 7 years ago | (#20448615)

Maybe because wiping the dust off would produce scratches that would be worse than the dust sitting there? Don't know, just a guess.

Re:Ideas for next time? (1)

pakar (813627) | about 7 years ago | (#20449479)

Just a few simple ideas that would help them..

- If there is an atmosphere you can use a simple fan to blow the dust away.
- Make the solar-collector a little convex and add some type of 'shaker' that would allow the dust drain off the panel. Maybe even just driving around would cause enough vibrations for this.
- For the camera, add a simple lens-cap that could protect it.
- For additional cleaning of different areas, have a number of tubes to the lens and other critical areas and then have a small fan attached to blow away any remaining dust. Might even be useful to clear away dust from stones it want to study.
- To reduce the weight why not put most of the processing power into the lander that extends an antenna a few meters into the air while keeping the same size on the solar panels to allow for more power to the instruments and drive, and if the lander-relay is out of range just reduce the power to the instruments and increase the power to the transmitter.
- In the lander build a 'car-wash' that could clean the robots if needed.. No requirement for more weight on the robot...

Or maybe another idea that could be much better... Have a number of much smaller robots that can assist each other with cleaning and/or power each with it's own transmitter that could relay data to the lander-relay, then a much smaller antenna would be needed.. Just put one of those smaller robots so it has clear sight to both robots and it could act as a relay. If one of the smaller robots, with a needed instrument, would get a faulty transmitter they could just bundle it together with one of the working ones.

Another idea to reduce the need for heavy and power-hungry transmitters could be to place loads of micro-sats in orbit around the planet that just would relay data,

Cant understand why NASA needs to implement everything in a single bot since by splitting it up into lots of smaller ones you would have a much lower risk of losing everything and the ability to explore a much larger area.

Re:Ideas for next time? (3, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | about 7 years ago | (#20448911)

I've never been satisfactorily explained why you can't wipe dust off of a panel of glass?

They sent the damned thing to mars - you'd think they'd be able to adapt a wiper to work on it.


      Why on earth is everyone trying to wipe dust off the panels? THE ROVERS ARE STILL WORKING DESPITE THE DUST. If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it. You're just adding another level of complexity, and another system that can break (and take the rest of the robot with it).

Re:Ideas for next time? (3, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | about 7 years ago | (#20448469)

The next Mars lander Phoenix launched last month. It will arrive in May next year. Although it's not a "rover" it does have solar panels for power. I believe there is no way to clean the solar panels of dust. So, in short, no, lesson not learned.

You have to understand how it works. They are given a fixed budget and specific goals. They cannot blow the budget just because something *might* outlast the design goals. Plus, Phoenix is expected to be completely buried in water or CO2 ice by mid-winter with nothing to keep the electronics warm, meaning they are fairly likely to develop micro-fractures. Further, there is less value in trying to extend the lifetime of stationary probes because the area to sample stays the same.
         

Re:Ideas for next time? (1)

Jmanamj (1077749) | about 7 years ago | (#20447755)

Hmmm... Im thinking fancy little window wipers like certain upscale cars use on their headlights... These rovers have been surprisingly robust. Wheres the people who say America makes cheap vehicles now?

Re:Ideas for next time? (1)

Keith Duhaime (139896) | about 7 years ago | (#20447821)

Problem is, all the American engineers that know how to create a durable vehicle are busy building Mars rovers, instead of your next Impala/Taurus/Sebring.

Dust devils - Re:Ideas for next time? (1)

Vincent Van Googol (638464) | about 7 years ago | (#20447793)

...include a way for the solar panels to free themselves of dust?

While admittedly hit or miss as a design element for future rovers, dust devils have been observed responsible for blowing off of the solar panels dust which had previously accumulated in larger dust storms.

Re:Ideas for next time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20447825)

Maybe they thought there would be Martian squeegee bums

Re:Ideas for next time? (1)

solafide (845228) | about 7 years ago | (#20447845)

From what I've heard, the dust particles are electrically attracted to the solar panels, so most wipers won't work.

Re:Ideas for next time? (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about 7 years ago | (#20447991)

If they had a good method, they would have implemented it last time. If it wasn't practical or important enough for a three month mission where it was the clearly limiting factor, why would it be when they can run four years plus without them?

Re:Ideas for next time? (1)

SimonInOz (579741) | about 7 years ago | (#20448459)

I imagine the best people to ask would be the the digital SLR folk - they definitely have some experience there.
Mind you, something of a different scale of problem. And of course their sensors are vertical, not horizontal.
Worth a shot, though.

Or maybe we could sent along a cat, which could sit on the solar panel and occasionally sweep it with its tail. That'd work.

Re:Ideas for next time? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 7 years ago | (#20449221)

Umm, I don't think so. We photographers just pull the lens and wipe the sensor with a little brush [visibledust.com] . Maybe you can teach your putative Space Cat to do that but I don't believe giving cats opposable thumbs would be a good idea in general.

Re:Ideas for next time? (4, Informative)

evanbd (210358) | about 7 years ago | (#20448555)

The issue was complicated. First, they weren't sure what the effect of dust storms would be. They got lucky; the storms seem to clean the panels more than they add dust. Second, they evaluated a number of different options for panel cleaning -- wipers, peel-away plastic covers, electrostatic devices, etc. The conclusion was there were a number of options, any of which would probably work for a while. However, it was decided that any of the options would take the place in space / weight of approximately one instrument. They decided that they'd rather have better info for a shorter time, especially given that the dust storms might turn out to clean the panels and let the rovers keep going without any cleaning system at all. So, they opted for instrumentation over longevity, and lucked out and got both.

why not another tiny 1 inch cleaner rover? (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | about 7 years ago | (#20450529)

Just make a tiny robot the size of an ipod that slowly drives on the panels and cleans the dust away and then throws it out the side like a mini hoover.
Doesnt matter that it would take 1 week to clean a whole panel, it would be powered by its own battery/recharge on the side.

Or just be cheap use a one time sticky roll on roller that rolls off, total weight a few ounces , zero electronics, 100% glue based.

Re:Ideas for next time? (1)

Trogre (513942) | about 7 years ago | (#20448063)

They could make them shake with an alternating rolling motion like a wet dog. Not only would it be effective, but rather comical to behold.

Re:Ideas for next time? (1)

p0tat03 (985078) | about 7 years ago | (#20448177)

As an undergrad engineer, I can see a problem with this idea. Older and wiser engineers feel free to correct me :)

The problem is that the amount of heat transfer you get from an angled panel is significantly less than one that is pointed almost perfectly at the heat source (aka sun). This is especially true considering that the panels would need to be angled steeply enough for dust to come off when small vibrations are applied (which, realistically, is all a piezoelectric vibrating thingamabob could do). So while your panels stay squeaky clean, your power output suffers. I've not done the math but it may be as bad as simply having dirty panels!

Re:Ideas for next time? (1)

ResidntGeek (772730) | about 7 years ago | (#20448239)

Too bad the panels couldn't move, changing their angle while being vibrated, huh?

Re:Ideas for next time? (1)

p0tat03 (985078) | about 7 years ago | (#20448353)

In my limited engineering experience, solving a complicated problem by inserting even more complicated machinery is generally a bad idea. You want something that "just works", which in mechanical-speak means that you use as few servos as possible. Keep in mind that such motors require complex control systems (heat, power drain) or large motors, or perhaps both.

Re:Ideas for next time? (1)

king-manic (409855) | about 7 years ago | (#20448439)

I could imagine electro statically powered nano motors to slowly move the dust. After a dust storm then the small transparent motors just make the surface move and move the dust with it. they could be on all the time, powered by the dust collecting on the panel.

stick with proven method (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 7 years ago | (#20448433)

To clean dust off the panels I'd think it be best to use a proven method: puffs of air. A small motorized air condenser could slowly pump up the pressure in a canister and then use it to blow dust off the panels. Or, just send pre-pressurized air, although that would limit the puffs. We know whirl-winds can do it. Piezoeletrical is untried and may make the problem worse if we don't understand Mars dust. Fast-moving air is known to work.

Re:Ideas for next time? (1)

students (763488) | about 7 years ago | (#20448835)

I heard a talk by one of the NASA people running the project. He addressed several of the ideas in this thread. His justification for the lack of any dust-removing technology was that the rovers were already at their weight limits.

A victory for NASA (0)

edlinfan (1131341) | about 7 years ago | (#20447739)

It's great to see that those tough little rovers are still with us.

By how many times have they exceeded their projected life-span now?

Hundreds Of Years Later... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20447779)

...someone deciphers the alien lettering scrawled in the dust on Opportunity's solar panel as reading "wash me."

Or maybe... (1)

SpeedyGonz (771424) | about 7 years ago | (#20448145)

Morbo hates puny earthlings and their rovers!

Re:Hundreds Of Years Later... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20448579)

Dammit - mod me up!!

Re:Hundreds Of Years Later... (1)

DrXym (126579) | about 7 years ago | (#20449827)

Or "I wish my wife was as dirty as this rover".

.COM BOOM #2? (0)

Adeptus_Luminati (634274) | about 7 years ago | (#20447815)

Am I the only one who interpreted the title as an announcement that the second .COM era was upon us?

March On Little Soldiers (3, Insightful)

DynaSoar (714234) | about 7 years ago | (#20447837)

I don't think it's at all improper to anthromorphize the little widgets and turn them into heroes. We need all the heroes we can get. Just as we'll need to expand our definition of life so we know it when we find it, we need to expand our definition of worth as individuals so we know them when we create them. I think we'll find we create them in our minds, and so already have.

I say, point them at each other and let them try to meet up. It's probably an impossible task and they'll probably die trying. But they'll die trying, and that's what heroes often do. It would serve to make us think along those lines about ourselves. We need more heroes, and heroes start out as just one of us. If they'll just try, it will give people reason to hope and to dream. We need those more than we need the science that results from the effort.

And who knows? They might just make it, or at least look like they might. Imagine the effect on people. Some would probably even start to call for a Mars mission to rescue the heroes and bring them home. I think that's at least as good a reason to go as any other.

Expand our definition of life to include yourself? (1)

lennyhell (869433) | about 7 years ago | (#20447971)

Anthromorphize? Little widgets? Heroes?

Shut up you fucking furry.

Re:March On Little Soldiers (-1, Troll)

ResidntGeek (772730) | about 7 years ago | (#20448275)

What we really need, though, is for people like you to shut up. "Ooh! Those robots are so tyoot, we should treat them like little dressed-up dogs and make them go say hi to each other! It'd be so super sweet, and maybe they'd die trying to do it and it'd be so romantic and maybe we could make a movie about it! Awwww...." No. We need them to collect scientific data from Mars, which NASA spent almost a billion fucking dollars on them to do. You need to stop thinking with your anus, and go read a book or two.

By the way, dumbass, they're on opposite sides of the planet. You know how far Opportunity traveled on Aug. 21? 13 meters. Take a while for them to meet up at that pace.

Re:March On Little Soldiers (4, Insightful)

jon287 (977520) | about 7 years ago | (#20448379)

I like your sentiment, but the real heroes work at NASA. These men and women almost certainly had a rough entry into adulthood at the hands of the ignorant doofuses who populate our schools only to be greeted, upon arrival, by a space program in decline, budgets cut to fund foreign wars, and a general "who cares about space, been there done that..oooh Paris got arrested!!" attitude from the public.

What did these people do? They took their limited budget and did their thing on another PLANET, and took us along for the ride!

I smile every time I hear mention of the rovers on tv or see the images. Its like a giant "up yours" to all of the worthless, dog-fighting "football stars" and useless "celebrities" of the world from geeks everywhere.

Roll on NASA engineers. Roll on rovers. You are my heroes.

Re:March On Little Soldiers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20448887)

Some would probably even start to call for a Mars mission to rescue the heroes and bring them home...

"Hey, what is that?"

"It's an inanimate carbon rod!"

"Yay!"

Time magazine: "In Rod We Trust"

Television: Tickertape parade with rod in limousine. Homer turns off the TV.

Bart: Aw, they were just about to show some close-ups of the rod!

... Homer: Stupid carbon rod. It's all just a popularity contest!

Re:March On Little Soldiers (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20449045)

I say, point them at each other and let them try to meet up.
Then we can have them fight to the death.

Re:March On Little Soldiers (1)

revengebomber (1080189) | about 7 years ago | (#20449169)

Some would probably even start to call for a Mars mission to rescue the heroes and bring them home.
We can send up a delivery ship, and strap on a magnetic hoist, and then get this Chinese girl, and... where was I going with this?

There is no dust (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20447849)

There is no dust on this solar panel. It is not the problem you are looking for.

waves hand.

THERE IS NO DUST ON THIS SOLAR PANEL.

waves hand * squeak * waves hand * squeak * waves hand * squeak *

Ahem.

There is no dust on this solar panel. It is not the problem you are looking for.

What would happen? (1)

Tribbin (565963) | about 7 years ago | (#20447937)

When human drove itself to extinction. When an extra-steller probe is sent to the last and only activity in the solar system (namely: opportunity & spirit) just before extinction of the alien races.

What would happen until the sun dies and the bots will be without solar power?

Re:What would happen? (1)

tftp (111690) | about 7 years ago | (#20448005)

Who cares, if there would be nobody left to observe?

Re:What would happen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20448367)

Well, just not right away, anyway.

kiddin' yeah ? (1)

phreakv6 (760152) | about 7 years ago | (#20448157)

Spirit and Opportunity??

..on a monday morning ?

What????? The rovers are still working???? (1, Funny)

chan518 (743628) | about 7 years ago | (#20448207)

Cher or the rovers, which will die first?

Re:What????? The rovers are still working???? (1)

jombeewoof (1107009) | about 7 years ago | (#20449343)

The rovers are made of metal, while cher is made mostly of plastic.
I would assume that metal would outlive plastic.

But then you have to think about the environment the two are in. The rovers are in a quite harsh environment while cher spends most of her time with sailors and bikers. not to mention friction burn. I'm just going to stop there.

lol (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | about 7 years ago | (#20448435)

The rovers' solar cells must recharge Energizer batteries. They keep on going and going...

sigh... (1, Insightful)

djupedal (584558) | about 7 years ago | (#20448643)

"...good to know they are still with us." pfft....

We've had this conversation before (apparently to no avail). Anthropomorphizing machines, whether you choose to name the new document shredder in the next room or pine over a planetary research vehicle that is taking a licking and yet still kicking, only serves to marginalize the human element that put them where they are.

You want a machine for a friend, fine...R2D2 is available, all for the price of a used DVD. Knock yourself out...but please stop knitting red/white/blue sweaters for the mailbox, 'cause the women and men that did the real work need love too :)

Re:sigh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20448883)

'cause the women and men that did the real work need love too

      Please douse yourself in gasoline and set yourself on fire. And leave my cute anthopomophized robots alone.

Love ain't no zero-sum game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20449275)

I don't think that showing anthropomorphic "love" to a machine somehow makes less love available to the people who built and operate it.

In fact, without the cutesy anthropomorphic love to the rovers, the people responsible would probably get less recognition and love from the public, because tough little robots are interesting and emotionally accessible to people (it's easy to cheer on a symbolic banner) while rocket scientists are intimidating and hard for the public to identify with.

Finally, the very people who build and run these things are the ones most guilty anthropomorphizing them, as evidenced by the names and how they talk about them in the press. The NASA guys love those little bots.

Long term, wonder if these can be mass produced (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 7 years ago | (#20449077)

IANARS (I am not a rocket scientist), but I wonder if NASA could start building these in relative volume (10-20 or so). Then, combined with a MIRV-like rocket (that would eject each rover's landing pod at a calculated latitude/longitude), this could get more of the surface of Mars studyable close up.

It would be an excellent (and relatively inexpensive... emphasis on relatively) way to study Mars as well as other planet's moons in great detail.

Re:Long term, wonder if these can be mass produced (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20450055)

IAMARSE (i am a rocket scientist) ?

The age of the 'bot is here (1)

HW_Hack (1031622) | about 7 years ago | (#20449079)

These to hardy - well engineered - bots prove that we can do a lot of space exploration and basic science remotely via small and mid-sized bots. The trick here is to not over-engineer (cost over runs) or kitchen sink (mission creep) the poor little bots. The fact that these 2 bots have gone well beyond their life expectancy is a great thing --- from these base designs should come a new generation of "bot platforms" that can accept modular payloads for missions that should last at least a year long.

Bots that can - reboot - reconfigure - rebuild / relink SW + HW systems - and analyze the best new course of action (after something has happened) will truly lead us to the age of 'bots

Re:The age of the 'bot is here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20449433)

Except these things don't run themselves. You've got people at mission control, huddling around their computers, meticulously planning out each hundred feet or so that the rovers are going to move. That's no way to conduct science, unless you're very, very patient.

The big wave in robotic space exploration these days is autonomous systems. They want to design robots that can explore like a human could--without constant nannying from a herd of scientists at JPL. Until that happens, we'll get useful science, sure, just like all the missions before them, but the cost/benefit ratio isn't going to be as favorable as you'd like.

Dust? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20449435)

So you are telling me they didn't think to include a wiper to clean the panel surfaces? Most cars have enjoyed that luxury since the beginning of the 20th century!

Hindsight is always 20/20 and all, but... (1)

NeuroManson (214835) | about 7 years ago | (#20449803)

Why didn't they take dust into account when building the things, and why couldn't they just incorporate a simple brush into the robot arm to clear dust from the solar panels? Doesn't really take a rocket scientist to comprehend the value of a good set of windshield wipers.

Re:Hindsight is always 20/20 and all, but... (1)

OneSmartFellow (716217) | about 7 years ago | (#20449863)

Hmmmm..... Let's see, because that would be another moving part that requires power maybe ??

Just a guess, I am not a rocket scientist after all; but, my guess is that they considered the benefits of such a thing and decided that it would yield little.

Re:Hindsight is always 20/20 and all, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20450479)

Is not like they will run 24/7. Such a device would probably only need to run lets say once a month for a few minutes or so.
The rovers would have been dead ages ago, if it was not for the dust devils that cleaned of dust.

Spirit and Opportunity Are Back Online (2, Funny)

niceone (992278) | about 7 years ago | (#20450071)

So they'll be spending the next couple of days catching up on their e-mail and a backlog of facebook stuff.

Welcome back! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20450395)

I for one welcome the return of our Martian rover overlords!
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