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Mars Rovers Return to Exploration

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the kuato-approved dept.

Mars 145

inkslinger77 writes "The two Mars rovers that have been carefully conserving critical power supplies since June, when the summer dust-storm season began on the red planet, are now springing back to work as the storms subside. Typically, the solar panels on each rover produce about 700 watt-hours of electricity per day — enough to light a 100-watt bulb for seven hours, according to NASA. But this year's dust storms reduced that to as little as 128 watt hours per day. When daily power generation is down to less than 400 watt-hours, the rovers suspend their driving on the planet and stop using their robotic arms, cameras and other instruments. But they are back in action now!"

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145 comments

You'd better explore Bush and his friends' money! (-1, Flamebait)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 6 years ago | (#20492819)

29 August 2007: In the weeks preceding the 2001 attacks on America, there were very significant financial warning signs that something big - and bad - could be about to happen. Huge surges in purchases of "put options" on stocks of United Airlines and American Airlines, the two airlines used in the attacks, and "put options" on Merrill Lynch & Co., and Morgan Stanley, stocks of two financial services companies hurt by the attack were noted. Put options are essentially "bets" that a stock or stock index will drop on or before a certain date; the larger the drop, the bigger the gain for the purchaser of the option.

Fast forward to the present day, and we have the same type of trading that took place in the days that preceded the 9/11 attacks - but on a larger scale. Nearly $1 billion of "put options" have been purchased, basically betting that Standard and Poor's 500 index will fall significantly by the third Friday in September. A large number of these options have also been purchased calling for 50% decline by September 21, 2007. For example, a 5% drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average would be the current equivalent of about 670 points. A decline of 11% would equal about 1,470 points in today's market. Obviously, larger drops, such as a 50% decline, would cause an unprecedented market collapse. Money would be made for the purchaser(s) of the put options - but the same purchaser(s) stand to lose over $1 BILLION in the investment if the market remains relatively static through September 21, 2007.



The questions are: who can stand to lose $1 BILLION, who will gain in the wake of such a devastating collapse, who are the investors, and what do they know that we don't?

I like the mars rovers. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20492825)

I like the mars rovers so much, I want to take them behind the middle school and get them pregnant.

Sadly (1, Funny)

daeg (828071) | more than 6 years ago | (#20492835)

Sadly, with their relatively low speed, they will probably never find Sarah Connor in time for Fox's upcoming "The Sarah Connor Chronicles."

Batteries (4, Funny)

Esion Modnar (632431) | more than 6 years ago | (#20492851)

Hope they're not Li-ion.

Re:Batteries (2, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493093)

Hope they're not Li-ion.

      Actually, the little rovers could use the extra heat...

Re:Batteries (1, Informative)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 6 years ago | (#20494501)

"Hope they're not Li-ion."

When asked if the Rover was concerned about having lion batteries, it replied: "Hakuna Matata"

Author Shill (4, Interesting)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#20494785)

Looks like IDG (ComputerWorld) is really hitting Slashdot HARD, either that or they have a deal with Slashdot. Here's a partial list of the shills that regularly show up and have almost 100% article acceptance rates:

inkslinger77

narramissic

jcatcw

If it's all OK and everything with the corporate ownership of Slashdot to be played by IDG, I suppose that's their business, but one would hope that they are actually getting PAID for being part of IDG's advertising program. And of course there should be disclosure so that visitors to Slashdot realize they are reading advertisements and not an article submitted by a "real" user...

Re:Author Shill (0)

tinkertim (918832) | more than 6 years ago | (#20495151)

If it's all OK and everything with the corporate ownership of Slashdot to be played by IDG, I suppose that's their business, but one would hope that they are actually getting PAID for being part of IDG's advertising program. And of course there should be disclosure so that visitors to Slashdot realize they are reading advertisements and not an article submitted by a "real" user...

I, for one, welcome our new IDG overlords ...

Re:Author Shill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20495525)

I welcome all of their glossy 'zines onto my desk free of charge except for a lengthy reader survey...

I don't think you need NASA to say that (5, Funny)

caluml (551744) | more than 6 years ago | (#20492865)

each rover produce about 700 watt-hours of electricity per day -- enough to light a 100-watt bulb for seven hours, according to NASA.

I don't think you need NASA to say that - I think I can confirm that 700 watt-hours will power a 100-watt bulb (or device) for 7 hours. furthermore, improving on NASA, I can also say that it will power 7 100-watt bulbs for 1 hour, or 1 700-watt bulb for an hour.

Re:I don't think you need NASA to say that (1, Funny)

a1210 (869230) | more than 6 years ago | (#20492929)

Seems like a new /. saying should arise from this..
like "Only old people in Korea use e-mail... according to NASA"

Re:I don't think you need NASA to say that (3, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 6 years ago | (#20492975)

Sorry, but your UID has to be below 850,000 before you can create a new meme. Sorry.

Re:I don't think you need NASA to say that (4, Funny)

Scutter (18425) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493005)

Sorry, but your UID has to be below 850,000 before you can create a new meme. Sorry.

I think you meant under 20,000.

Re:I don't think you need NASA to say that (4, Funny)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493063)

But on Slashdot, uids under 20000 are only for old people!

Re:I don't think you need NASA to say that (5, Funny)

empaler (130732) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493121)

But on Slashdot, uids under 20000 are only for old people!
... according to NASA.

Re:I don't think you need NASA to say that (1)

Kythe (4779) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493431)

Thanks for that.

Re:I don't think you need NASA to say that (2, Informative)

Scutter (18425) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493149)

But on Slashdot, uids under 20000 are only for old people!

We're not old. We're well-read.

Re:I don't think you need NASA to say that (2, Funny)

tgd (2822) | more than 6 years ago | (#20494927)

No, under 2000.

Wait, under 3000.

Re:I don't think you need NASA to say that (1)

Barbarian (9467) | more than 6 years ago | (#20496735)

I think you meant under 20,000.

I think you meant under 10,000.

I wonder if there's a market for selling low UID accounts.

Re:I don't think you need NASA to say that (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493007)

500,000! No, wait...

Re:I don't think you need NASA to say that (1)

cnettel (836611) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493049)

1/2 mebi, maybe?

Re:I don't think you need NASA to say that (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493401)

Yep, I think it would be better judged as a percentage. Though I have noticed that some of them new fangled >1000000 users have been coming up with some pretty funny posts recently. Positively shocking.

Re:I don't think you need NASA to say that (0, Offtopic)

caluml (551744) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493137)

Actually, I was a member a long time ago , but can't remember what username I used. Help meeeeeeee, Tacoooooooooooo :)

Re:I don't think you need NASA to say that (1)

pohl (872) | more than 6 years ago | (#20494409)

This has been declared a new /. meme by someone with UID 872...according to NASA.

Re: I don't think you need NASA to say that (4, Funny)

D4C5CE (578304) | more than 6 years ago | (#20492965)

Shush, next thing you're gonna tell journalists one doesn't even need to be a rocket scientist to figure out maths? ;-)

Re:I don't think you need NASA to say that (1)

schumaml (78970) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493013)

I'm shocked to read that NASA does use obsolete technology to illustrate science. They should be using CFLs in their examples.

Re:I don't think you need NASA to say that (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 6 years ago | (#20494579)

CFLs can be made for any wattage desired, it'll just be a lot brighter than an incandescant of the same wattage . . . although I doubt a 100 watt CFL will be all that "compact."

Going one further than NASA (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493085)

Going one further than NASA, I can also reveal that the rover only ended up getting power equivalent to lighting one 100-watt bulb for 1.28 hours, or 128 1-watt bulbs for an hour, or one 1-watt bulb for 128 hours.

Who would have guessed?

Crazy units (2, Interesting)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493125)

700 watt-hours per day

Since a watt is just a short way of saying one joule per second, this means

700 joules per second per hour per day

Do NASA really do their energy computations in this unit? Given their past problems getting to grips with the metric system, perhaps they might.

Surely it would be clearer to say 'the rover's solar panels have an average power output of about 29 watts'. Anyone could see that this is enough power to run a 100 watt lightbulb nearly one-third of the time.

Re:Crazy units (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493779)

700 watt-hours per day
Since a watt is just a short way of saying one joule per second, this means
700 joules per second per hour per day
See that 'per' - the one between 'second' and 'hour' - where did that come from?

Re:Crazy units (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 6 years ago | (#20494357)

Yes - I realized my mistake as soon as I wrote the comment and posted a correction, but Slashdot disallowed it for coming less than 2 minutes after the previous comment. I didn't read that and closed the window. You are absolutely right, it should be 700 joule-hours per second per day.

Re:Crazy units (2, Insightful)

netpixie (155816) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493803)

Bzzt!

> 700 joules per second per hour per day

No, 700 joules per second times hours. i.e. energy per time multiplied by time = energy

A watt-hour is a unit of energy just a a joule is, except its a bit clearer how it relates to other quantities.

And calculating average outputs over a time period where the out put fluctuates wildly is a bit silly.

Re:Crazy units (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#20495021)

Surely it would be clearer to say 'the rover's solar panels have an average power output of about 29 watts'.

Yeah, but how many watt-hours per hour? ;-)

(Btw, as others pointed out, I think you meant 700 "joule-hours per second-day" or "joules per second per (day per hour)" or "(joules per second)-(hours per days)es". Recurring isometric units are fun!)

Putting things in useful units is important. But a the same time, some people have bizarre views on what consitutes useful. For example, in fractions relating to money, mainstream media sources usually use "cents per dollar" instead of "percent". Apparently, some people go bonkers if you say,

"California gets back 79% of what its citizens pay in federal taxes"

but will understand if you say,

"For each dollar its citizens pay in federal taxes, California gets back seventy-nine cents."

I want to kill those people.

Re:Crazy units (2, Insightful)

isomeme (177414) | more than 6 years ago | (#20495717)

I initially had the same objection as you, but then I realized that the "watt-hours per day" unit actually makes sense.

The rovers' solar panels only generate power during daylight, and even then the generated power varies continuously as the sun angle changes. So talking about average power production produces a misleading picture of how the power is actually delivered; in many ways, it's more useful to think about some number of watt hours being accumulated per day as a lump sum, with nights separating those lumps.

Furthermore, the generated power goes into batteries, the energy content of which can certainly be expressed in joules. But it's frequently more useful to express battery energy content in watt-hours, because you frequently want to know how long an N-watt drain can be maintained. So expressing the daily energy accumulation in watt-hours delivered to the batteries simplifies follow-on engineering calculations.

Re:I don't think you need NASA to say that (1)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493959)

Actually considering the losses even in the simplest circuit, 700Wh is enough to power a 100W bulb for somewhere between 6.67 and 6.98 hours.

Re:I don't think you need NASA to say that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20495977)

Since you were pedantic first, I'd like to add that 100-watts is the rating for the bulb, not the power consumed which is always lower.

Re:I don't think you need NASA to say that (1)

cplusplus (782679) | more than 6 years ago | (#20496407)

The funny thing is that, in almost every rover update every week or two, they mention that. It's always the wattage, followed by the light bulb statement.

Re:I don't think you need NASA to say that (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 6 years ago | (#20496533)

Of course, none of those statements are true as if the solar panels produce 700 watt-hours in a single (martian day) they average only around 57 watts over the course of the sunlight hours, with a peak of 114 watts, putting output above 100 watts for 5.47 (earth) hours. So you can run a 100 watt light bulb for only 5.47 hours.

Next? (1)

biocute (936687) | more than 6 years ago | (#20492867)

Would engineers and scientists wish these machines just die so that new, better explorers can be built and sent to Mars?

Re:Next? (3, Informative)

Soft (266615) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493027)

It doesn't make much difference. Phoenix [arizona.edu] is on its way and MSL [nasa.gov] is being prepared for launch in 2009.

Not "Defective by Design" (2, Interesting)

D4C5CE (578304) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493077)

Fortunately they are not into consumer electronics. Otherwise there'd be a DRM [wikipedia.org] on these rovers, one they would have retired 3 years ago in a cruel, wanton act of planned obsolescence [theinquirer.net].

Re:Next? (5, Insightful)

paleo2002 (1079697) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493163)

Are you kidding? These rovers are functioning way beyond their mission parameters. They've collected more data than anyone expected. We've gone from "What if there's water on Mars" to "How much water is there on Mars?". The rovers survived a Martian dust storm! Martian dust storms have been known to cover the entire planet.

Let's put it this way. If your car was as well-designed and resilient as these rovers it would run on empty for 100 miles, drive up mountains, and review your tax returns.

Re:Next? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20493541)

I have mod points, but I can't find -1 Car Analogy

Re:Next? (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493997)

I think it's more like providing parameters for a car such as: "well, it might get 3 miles to the gallon, have a range of 30 miles, not function at all on rainy dais, and explode on contact with anything larger than a bowling ball", but then delivering a regular car.

Re:Next? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20494763)

"If your car was as well-designed and resilient as these rovers it would run on empty for 100 miles, drive up mountains, and review your tax returns."

I'm David Hasselhoff, bitch! My car does all of that - and more!

They are doing pretty well though

Re:Next? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20494367)

In the space business, if you have hardware on mars, it's already magnitudes better than anything newly developed that hasn't launched yet. Abandoning an old project for a new one risks the new one not making it there successfully. Far better to use what you have as long as you can. It it ain't broke....

700 watt hours per day? (1)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 6 years ago | (#20492869)

Sounds like a "Nobody would ever need more than 64k" kind of situation to me.

Re:700 watt hours per day? (1)

Soft (266615) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493047)

More like "if you need more solar panels, you must sacrifice an instrument", I think.

Wattage (0, Redundant)

empaler (130732) | more than 6 years ago | (#20492871)

Typically, the solar panels on each rover produce about 700 watt-hours of electricity per day -- enough to light a 100-watt bulb for seven hours, according to NASA.
I'm so glad you cleared that up for me, I never would have been able to calculate those horrendously large numbers myself.

Hard Calculations (0, Redundant)

GuldKalle (1065310) | more than 6 years ago | (#20492887)

enough to light a 100-watt bulb for seven hours, according to NASA
Great thing we have NASA to make these insanely hard calculations, I would never have figured that out by myself

Re:Hard Calculations (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 6 years ago | (#20496591)

You could also run 35 4 Watt bulbs for 5 hours.

Nothing special in making up these type of calculations. For all-integer solutions, all you need to do is get the factors of the base number (700 Watts), which in this case are "2, 2, 5, 5, 7", then put these numbers in an equation of the form "A (count) B (wattage) Bulbs for C (time) hours". Replace A, B, and C with permutations of the factors multiplied together.

If you don't understand that, then just randomly choose A and B, and calculate C using "C = 700 / (A * B)", but you are likely to get non-integer results for C.

It runs and runs and runs... (4, Informative)

zeromorph (1009305) | more than 6 years ago | (#20492899)

It runs and runs and runs...

The dust storm even kind of polished [nasa.gov] it.

Go rover go!

Can we please not dumb this site down? (-1, Flamebait)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 6 years ago | (#20492963)

FTFS: 700 watt-hours... -- enough to light a 100-watt bulb for seven hours

Did the submitter honestly expect the /. crowd not to be able to work that one out for themselves? This site's tagline is "news for nerds", not airheads.

Re:Can we please not dumb this site down? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20493211)

Calling yourself intelligent doesn't mean shit. In fact it makes you an idiot. I can't think of another place where people refer to themself as intelligent while no one else seems to agree.

 

Re:Can we please not dumb this site down? (2, Funny)

Nimey (114278) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493441)

Sigh. It's practically obligatory when you're talking about science (at least in the States, how about other countries?) to dumb it down. At least they didn't say how many ping-pong balls the rovers could carry if they were hollow.

And at least we aren't to the point of saying how many angels can dance on a rover's solar panel, or somesuch. Yet.

Re:Can we please not dumb this site down? (3, Funny)

metlin (258108) | more than 6 years ago | (#20494001)

At least they didn't say how many ping-pong balls the rovers could carry if they were hollow.
So, how many Libraries of Congress would that be again?

Since it seems to come up every time (5, Informative)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#20492971)

The issue of whether or not to put some sort of dust-clearing device on the panels was examined critically and decided on early in this project. In short: they didn't know what dust storms would do to the panels; it turns out they tend to remove dust. Several options for dust clearing were considered -- wipers, electrostatic techniques, peel-away plastic, and probably others I've forgotten. All of them would have *probably* worked, and all of them would have taken up space and weight. Essentially it came down to choosing between dust removal and an instrument. Faced with that decision, they decided that better quality, more complete data was more interesting than having the rovers run longer.

Of course, they got lucky, and the dust storms seem to clear dust off the panels. So there was even less need for dust-clearing than they thought there might be.

Re:Since it seems to come up every time (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493387)

I thought they knew what dust storms would do, they've had rovers and landers on Mars before, that experience helped temper their expectations on how long it could last. What helped was that they rolled over a ridge and managed to catch enough of the Martian wind to clear the panels.

was anybody running a book? (1)

unfunk (804468) | more than 6 years ago | (#20492997)

...because surely, they'd be annoyed with anybody choosing "three years or more" for million-to-one odds on the bet as to how long these rovers would last...

...and they just keep on going! I am fucking amazed at how overdesigned these thing are; broken wheels, mini tornadoes, planet-wide dust storms; nothing (so far) seems to be able to keep these machines down, and in some cases, theoretically adverse conditions are helping them to keep going!

Spirit and Opportunity, I salute you!

Amazing (1)

Xtense (1075847) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493001)

I think it's amazing that these rovers still keep going. Not that I doubt in engineering skills of people involved, but they "just keep on working", which I find pretty extraordinary. You'd think that any equipment left in such harsh conditions would turn into trash very soon. I was almost sure that at least one of them wouldn't survive the storms, but, fortunately, reality proved me wrong. Go NASA!

Re:Amazing (4, Insightful)

unfunk (804468) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493045)

I was almost sure that at least one of them wouldn't survive the storms, but, fortunately, reality proved me wrong. Go NASA!
I actually think it's kinda surreal, the way they just keep going.
If mankind ever makes it to Mars in the flesh, I hope they bring one back and give it a medal or something.
Maybe mount a plaque at the point where it 'died' on Mars as well.

Re:Amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20495239)

I actually think it's kinda surreal, the way they just keep going.
If mankind ever makes it to Mars in the flesh, I hope they bring one back and give it a medal or something.
Maybe mount a plaque at the point where it 'died' on Mars as well.

Didn't they do that on an episode of Enterprise?

Ass-covering (1)

empaler (130732) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493171)

I actually think that the engineers who designed it had a pretty realistic view of how much punishment the rovers could handle, but if you get the same amount of money whether you say "We are sure it will work for X time" or "We are sure it will work for 5X time", why not go for the first? If something horrendous happens after 2X time, your ass is pretty much covered, and everyone will just say 'Wow! It had an operation time of twice the expected!" instead of "We're never gonna hire those yolks again, their shit didn't even work half the expected lifetime."
I know I'm oversimplifying, but I have no doubt that that's their M.O.

Re:Ass-covering (0, Flamebait)

realthing02 (1084767) | more than 6 years ago | (#20494729)

No, like everyone else, they were motivated by money.

Seriously, when designing the rover and the instruments, pretty early on you get an idea of how long the thing is supposed to last. it drives all sorts of engineering things such as materials, power supplies, and data retention. Had they needed this thing to last 5x it's normal lifetime, they would have to test it a hell of a lot more, spend much more money on more expensive parts and materials, and probably would only send one of the things.

And i doubt the engineers had a realistic view of how much damage they could take. Maybe they knew what they could take in earth conditions, but that's a far cry from mars- but any type of in situ instrument, such as the rover, comes with some inherent doubt about what it will run into. You don't think the engineers at JPL (who built the rovers for NASA) are just as amazed as we are?

"We're never gonna hire those yolks again" rarely plays into it from the engineer standpoint... the project manager, though, is a completely different story.

Built NASA Tough (3, Informative)

Zorbane (1095631) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493249)

I grew up in a coal mining area of Illinois. The worlds largest shovel (Marion 6360 [stripmine.org]) was in the mine where my dad worked...and it used the same crawlers that NASA made for the space shuttle. Down at NASA, they have the thing crawl out on a carefully leveled bed of pea gravel....but down in the mines, they had some mats to lay down, but the crawlers would still crunch over stuff. Apparently, when some of the NASA people came up to look at how the shovel was doing on their crawler system, they were utterly horrified at the conditions...not one of them thought it possible for the crawlers to perform in half so "bad" of conditions and still work for any amount of time. The crawlers worked all the way till the shovel burnt in the early 90's and the thing was scrapped (an oil fire hot enough to split open the inches thick steel skin of the sucker)...

Not descriptive enough (4, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493257)

Why are you describing to slashdotters, 700 watt-hours will light up a 100watt bulb for 7 hours? Is it that easily imaginable? Should use very precise engineering descriptions like, four football fields long or as big as a refrigerator or something. The most descriptive way to describe 700 watt-hours would be something like the energy spent by a senator tapping the restroom stall floor with foot over his entire three term career or the energy used by a /. mod marking 8324 posts as trolls, flamebaits and underrated.

Re:Not descriptive enough (2, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#20494991)

Exactly a Slashdotter will understand it better this way...

700 watt hours. That's enough to run your Gaming PC for 6.5 minutes, or light 42,338 super bright white LED's at 125% brightness for 1 second in a blindingly bright flash that will make everyone for miles say "WOW! THAT WAS BRIGHT!"

Software Never Dies (4, Interesting)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493347)

We as software developers here should take note of this. The code you're writing and putting into production has the potential to last for decades. For example, out of college my first programming job was for Mutual of Omaha. They had lots of code that was written in the late 1960s in Assembler or in (gag) COBOL. Well, although someone like me would have loved to have rewritten those systems, it was not happening. Then, take another point. I myself wrote a large system for them that--according to friends who are still there--and that system has not been changed much since then. So, folks, the point is this: you write a lot of applications. Some won't survive a year. Others... they may be doing their job in twenty years. Machines wear out but--properly designed and maintained--software never does. Bravo to Spirit & Opportunity and the teams that built those kickass pieces of hardware/software.

Re:Software Never Dies (1)

LMacG (118321) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493503)

I think a lot of us learned this lesson in the midst of the Y2K hoo-hah. And I don't see the need to gag at COBOL, it played a huge part in getting computers into daily life. Sure, it has some flaws, and anybody who ever used an ALTER statement should be shot on sight, but any language can be misused.

Re:Software Never Dies (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493671)

And I don't see the need to gag at COBOL, it played a huge part in getting computers into daily life.

And war played a huge part in medical advancements, used daily in our lives. That doesn't mean war is good. Come on...there are reasons you don't see people scrambling to do new coding and project development in COBOL.

Re:Software Never Dies (2, Interesting)

chill (34294) | more than 6 years ago | (#20493993)

Not to rain on your parade, but I just fixed some veterinary office software for a local animal hospital that was written in COBOL. Yes, it was on a PC and I thank the Gods it was interpreted and thus included the source code. It had been 20 years since I've worked with COBOL.

I was fixing it because the original programmer -- and I am NOT making this up -- committed suicide. Hmmmm...I wonder if there is a connection?

Re:Software Never Dies (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#20494977)

"I thank the Gods it was interpreted and thus included the source code. "
Huhhh? interpreted Cobol? I haven't seen a Cobol interpreter since I worked on a SuperPet back in the dark ages?
BTW the SuperPet was a great system for schools. I had Pascal, Fortran, Cobol, APL, Basic, and an Assembler. What was best of all the where all interpreters with the possible exception of the Assembler.

Re:Software Never Dies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20493943)

The only thing that *can* be updated on the rovers is the software. Sorry folks, you can send your code to another planet and someone will still track it down and change it on you.

Re:Software Never Dies (1)

varcher75 (800974) | more than 6 years ago | (#20495505)

The code you're writing and putting into production has the potential to last for decades.

Truth. Years ago, in 1991, I wrote in Borland Pascal a program to manage competitions and national-scale ranking for the game Diplomacy in face-to-face (well, face-to-6-other-faces, in that case). I haven't been involved in the game for over 10 years, but I recently heard from the crowd again, and, well, the program is still in use. Nobody has the source anymore, it runs exclusively in DOS mode, and I expect it to be virtualized soon because it doesn't like Vista. But it is still gaining adopters, 14 years after the last version.

"700 watt-hours of electricity per day" (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20493843)

"700 watt-hours of electricity per day -- enough to light a 100-watt bulb for seven hours, according to NASA"

Do you really have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out?

Q: Why do NASA engineers buy their shoes much too big?
A: They think their feet are one meter long.

pessimistic Nasa? (1)

tonyreadsnews (1134939) | more than 6 years ago | (#20495111)

It thought that before the storm NASA was saying that these dust storms were likely to kill the rovers more then anything. I'm excited to see the rovers go as far as they have and further, but I'm thinking that maybe NASA just wanted to keep everyone's expectations low so we over joyed when it beats them. All in all, I'm really glad they are doing so well.

From the article (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20496459)

> Past storms on Mars affected the rovers, but those were only short-term events, Matijevic said. This year's storms were especially strong.

        Must be the global warming.
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