Author Topic: Mars Exploration Rovers Update  (Read 215614 times)

Offline robertross

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #20 on: 11/13/2008 11:54 PM »
I was thinking. In future, could they devise & implement an air pump to collect atmospheric gas, compress it just enough and store it in a little sample bottle, and use it to blow off the solar arrays? They could have nozzles a specific location (or attached to the end of an arm) to clean off the dust periodically. You would probably have to launch it empty to prevent bursting during descent heating, unless the relief valve is good enough.
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Offline iamlucky13

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #21 on: 11/14/2008 01:34 AM »
http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/newsroom/pressreleases/20081113a.html

"NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit communicated via the Mars Odyssey orbiter today right at the time when ground controllers had told it to, prompting shouts of "She's talking!" among the rover team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "

89 W-hours a couple days ago. The lows over the winter that had them only communicating on alternating days were all still over 200 W-hours. Reports from over the last couple days and weeks say the atmosphere is 70% opaque, and that only 32% of light that falls on Spirit's solar panels gets through. They've even shut off some heaters in addition to skipping communications windows to keep her from going into fault mode, because normal fault behavior is to regularly try communicating with earth, which will just drain her batteries until enough charge accumulates to immediately try again.

Here's hoping for a dust devil.

Robertross, the suggestion has been made before. The conclusion they reached was more science payload was more valuable than the variety of options for trying to blow off dust, especially since none of them were guaranteed to work. Also, they maximized the size of the solar panels keep power levels reasonable even as dust started to block sunlight. An added bonus was plenty of power to spare at the beginning of the mission.

Offline jacqmans

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #22 on: 12/30/2008 07:41 AM »
RELEASE: 08-337

MARS ROVERS NEAR FIVE YEARS OF SCIENCE AND DISCOVERY

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA rovers Spirit and Opportunity may still have
big achievements ahead as they approach the fifth anniversaries of
their memorable landings on Mars.

Of the hundreds of engineers and scientists who cheered at NASA's Jet
Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 3, 2004,
when Spirit landed safely, and 21 days later when Opportunity
followed suit, none predicted the team would still be operating both
rovers in 2009.

"The American taxpayer was told three months for each rover was the
prime mission plan," said Ed Weiler, associate administrator for
NASA's Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in
Washington. "The twins have worked almost 20 times that long. That's
an extraordinary return of investment in these challenging budgetary
times."

The rovers have made important discoveries about wet and violent
environments on ancient Mars. They also have returned a
quarter-million images, driven more than 13 miles, climbed a
mountain, descended into craters, struggled with sand traps and aging
hardware, survived dust storms, and relayed more than 36 gigabytes of
data via NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter. To date, the rovers remain
operational for new campaigns the team has planned for them.

"These rovers are incredibly resilient considering the extreme
environment the hardware experiences every day," said John Callas,
JPL project manager for Spirit and Opportunity. "We realize that a
major rover component on either vehicle could fail at any time and
end a mission with no advance notice, but on the other hand, we could
accomplish the equivalent duration of four more prime missions on
each rover in the year ahead."

Occasional cleaning of dust from the rovers' solar panels by Martian
wind has provided unanticipated aid to the vehicles' longevity.
However, it is unreliable aid. Spirit has not had a good cleaning for
more than 18 months. Dust-coated solar panels barely provided enough
power for Spirit to survive its third southern-hemisphere winter,
which ended in December.

"This last winter was a squeaker for Spirit," Callas said. "We just
made it through."

With Spirit's energy rising for spring and summer, the team plans to
drive the rover to a pair of destinations about 200 yards south of
the site where Spirit spent most of 2008. One is a mound that might
yield support for an interpretation that a plateau Spirit has studied
since 2006, called Home Plate, is a remnant of a once more-extensive
sheet of explosive volcanic material. The other destination is a
house-size pit called Goddard.

"Goddard doesn't look like an impact crater," said Steve Squyres of
Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y. Squyres is principal investigator
for the rover science instruments. "We suspect it might be a volcanic
explosion crater, and that's something we haven't seen before."

A light-toned ring around the inside of the pit might add information
about a nearby patch of bright, silica-rich soil that Squyres counts
as Spirit's most important discovery so far. Spirit churned up the
silica in mid-2007 with an immobile wheel that the rover has dragged
like an anchor since it quit working in 2006. The silica was likely
produced in an environment of hot springs or steam vents.

For Opportunity, the next major destination is Endeavour Crater. It is
approximately 14 miles in diameter, more than 20 times larger than
another impact crater, Victoria, where Opportunity spent most of the
past two years. Although Endeavour is 7 miles from Victoria, it is
considerably farther as the rover drives on a route evading major
obstacles.

Since climbing out of Victoria four months ago, Opportunity has driven
more than a mile of its route toward Endeavour and stopped to inspect
the first of several loose rocks the team plans to examine along the
way. High-resolution images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter,
which reached Mars in 2006, are helping the team plot routes around
potential sand traps that were not previously discernable from orbit.

"The journeys have been motivated by science, but have led to
something else important," said Squyres. "This has turned into
humanity's first overland expedition on another planet. When people
look back on this period of Mars exploration decades from now, Spirit
and Opportunity may be considered most significant not for the
science they accomplished, but for the first time we truly went
exploring across the surface of Mars."

For more information about Spirit and Opportunity, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/rovers


-end-

Offline nomadd22

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #23 on: 01/01/2009 04:42 PM »
I was thinking. In future, could they devise & implement an air pump to collect atmospheric gas, compress it just enough and store it in a little sample bottle, and use it to blow off the solar arrays? They could have nozzles a specific location (or attached to the end of an arm) to clean off the dust periodically. You would probably have to launch it empty to prevent bursting during descent heating, unless the relief valve is good enough.

 Squyres and his team brainstormed ideas for cleaning the arrays, but they were short on time, short on money, every ounce of weight would mean an ounce of something else had to be eliminated and there wasn't enough space to fit a mouse testicle in there after it was folded into the shell.

Offline Jim

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #24 on: 01/01/2009 05:19 PM »

 Squyres and his team

You mean JPL and Squyres.  Rover hardware was JPL bailiwick

Offline Antares

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #25 on: 01/02/2009 01:52 AM »
a ... pit called Goddard.

LMAO. :D A little intercenter rivalry perhaps?
If I like something on NSF, it's probably because I know it to be accurate.  Every once in a while, it's just something I agree with.  Facts generally receive the former.

Offline Nascent Ascent

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #26 on: 01/02/2009 01:57 AM »
I've often wondered with such a robust, proven design on Spirit and Oppy, why not make and launch a bunch more of these to new locations.  Perhaps make a few updates, based on things we've learned, but nothing too major. We've already paid for the R&D, let's do a production run!

Seems like as soon as we find something that works really well, we abandon it for the next thing all too soon.

na
“Why should we send people into space when we have kids in the U.S. that can’t read”. - Barack Obama

Offline Jim

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #27 on: 01/02/2009 02:40 AM »
I've often wondered with such a robust, proven design on Spirit and Oppy, why not make and launch a bunch more of these to new locations.  Perhaps make a few updates, based on things we've learned, but nothing too major. We've already paid for the R&D, let's do a production run!


because they are limited to specific science goals and that isn't needed anymore.  There is little to be gained by more them.  Also, they were design for a specific low C3 that existed in 2003.  They could not be launched by Delta II's in  2005, 2007, 2009, etc

Offline Nathan

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #28 on: 01/02/2009 10:24 PM »
I've often wondered with such a robust, proven design on Spirit and Oppy, why not make and launch a bunch more of these to new locations.  Perhaps make a few updates, based on things we've learned, but nothing too major. We've already paid for the R&D, let's do a production run!


because they are limited to specific science goals and that isn't needed anymore.  There is little to be gained by more them.  Also, they were design for a specific low C3 that existed in 2003.  They could not be launched by Delta II's in  2005, 2007, 2009, etc

I think the same basic design can be used but the science instruments upgraded and tailored to new goals. (All landers will carry camera's and spectrometers- the spectrometers just need to be landed in a region of new geology). A different launch vehcle could be used that could allow different launch windows to be used. There would be costs but these rovers were so good that it is tragic to see the design thrown away.
Given finite cash, if we want to go to Mars then we should go to Mars.

Offline William Graham

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #29 on: 01/03/2009 09:35 AM »
they were design for a specific low C3 that existed in 2003.  They could not be launched by Delta II's in  2005, 2007, 2009, etc

So launch them in pairs on Atlas.

Offline Nick L.

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #30 on: 01/03/2009 11:08 AM »
I can think of another way that they are limited by design. They used the "bouncing airbag" landing system, which necessitates picking a landing site that is relatively smooth and flat and doesn't look like it has a lot of big sharp rocks to puncture the bags. That, IIRC, heavily limited where they could land. A rover with a powered descent system would be more flexible.

There is no doubt that the MERs are some of NASA's crowning achievements of the past decade. But now we need more capability to expand on the data they gathered. Sending more MER clones would grow the data set but not necessarily broaden it.
"Now you may leave here for four days in space, but when you return it's the same old place..."

Offline Nathan

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #31 on: 01/03/2009 11:24 AM »
I can think of another way that they are limited by design. They used the "bouncing airbag" landing system, which necessitates picking a landing site that is relatively smooth and flat and doesn't look like it has a lot of big sharp rocks to puncture the bags. That, IIRC, heavily limited where they could land. A rover with a powered descent system would be more flexible.

There is no doubt that the MERs are some of NASA's crowning achievements of the past decade. But now we need more capability to expand on the data they gathered. Sending more MER clones would grow the data set but not necessarily broaden it.

One could land in Hellas or Valles Marineris, or many other locations of interest that have safe landing zones but would allow new data to be collected. I think we can leverage the proven design to pull more useful data from the planet. There will be vast areas of the planet still unaccessible but we've only just scratched the surface of our knowledge of the red planet. The current rovers are still returning new discoveries. Also - the original Mars Surveyor program had landers in every launch window so the creators of the program clearly thought that more could be gained from the lander design.

The mission could be funded via the Disovery program.
Given finite cash, if we want to go to Mars then we should go to Mars.

Offline tnphysics

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #32 on: 01/04/2009 10:04 PM »
Agreed.

Offline John44

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #33 on: 01/07/2009 07:02 PM »

Offline DarthVader

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #34 on: 01/07/2009 09:49 PM »
Thanks for the tip John44, I was wondering if NASA TV had (or was) airing anything to mark the anniversary.

Offline rdale

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #35 on: 01/07/2009 10:10 PM »
More is coming tomorrow.

Offline nomadd22

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #36 on: 01/07/2009 10:19 PM »
 I suggest "Roving Mars" by Steve Squyres. It gives a good account of the MER story from conception to the part in 2004 where they were proud of what the rovers had done, but expected them to fail "soon".
 Reading about the ridiculous chain of failures and near disasters during the building of those things right up to launch, makes their success all the more incredible.

Offline jacqmans

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #37 on: 01/13/2009 03:10 AM »
NEWS RELEASE: 2009-004                                                                          January 12, 2009

Public Events Mark Mars Rovers' Five-Year Anniversary

PASADENA, Calif. -- Public events during the next two weeks will share the adventures of the still-active NASA Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, which landed five years ago this month on missions originally scheduled to last three months.

Rover mission leaders will present free, illustrated talks Thursday, Jan. 15, and Friday, Jan. 16, in Pasadena, with the Jan. 15 event streamed live online and archived for later viewing.

On Friday, Jan. 23, through Sunday, Jan. 25, rover team members will give a series of talks at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. The observatory will also display a full-size Mars rover model, with team members available to answer visitors' questions.

Since landing on opposite sides of Mars during January of 2004, Spirit and Opportunity have made important discoveries about historically wet and violent environments on ancient Mars. They also have returned a quarter-million images, driven more than 21 kilometers (13 miles), climbed a mountain, descended into craters, struggled with sand traps and aging hardware, survived dust storms, and relayed more than 36 gigabytes of data via NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter. Both rovers remain operational for new exploration campaigns the team has planned.

The public presentations on Jan. 15 and 16, "Spirit and Opportunity: The Corps of Discovery for Mars Rolls On," are part of the monthly von Kármán Lecture Series by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., principal investigator for the science payloads on the rovers, will deliver the Jan. 15 talk in Beckman Auditorium on the campus of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, on Michigan Avenue one block south of Del Mar Avenue. JPL's John Callas, project manager for the rovers, will deliver the Jan. 16 talk in Pasadena City College's Vosloh Forum, 1570 E. Colorado Ave.

Squyres and Callas will begin their presentations at 7 p.m. Admission is free, on a first-come, first-seated basis. For more information about the lectures and the webcast of the Jan. 15 event, see http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/events/lectures.cfm?year=2009&month=1 .

At Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, the full-size rover model will be on display in the Depths of Space gallery Jan. 23 through Jan. 25, accompanied by rover team members from JPL. Talks about topics such as how the team drives the rovers and what the rovers have revealed about Mars will be presented in the observatory's Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater. These talks, by JPL rover-team members Al Herrera, Scott Lever, Scott Maxwell, John Callas, Bruce Banerdt and Ashley Stroupe, are scheduled for the following times: 7 p.m. on Jan. 23; 1:30 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Jan. 24; and 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Jan. 25.

For more information about visiting Griffith Observatory, see http://www.griffithobs.org/ .


Offline Rusty_Barton

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #38 on: 01/15/2009 05:52 AM »
"Scientists detect methane on Mars"

"Nasa scientists are expected to reveal that methane gas has been detected on Mars, raising hopes of finding evidence of life on the Red Planet, it was reported.

According to The Sun, the American space agency will announce that organisms just below the Martian soil were creating a "haze of methane" around the planet. The gas was detected by orbiting spacecraft and from Earth using giant telescopes, the newspaper said......"

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5gsRpNOXTjanP-JSrXX_wa4tT0yig

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article2133475.ece

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechnology/science/sciencenews/4243321/Mars-methane-discovery-hints-at-presence-of-life.html

« Last Edit: 01/15/2009 05:55 AM by Rusty_Barton »

Offline John44

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