Author Topic: How long will Curiosity last?  (Read 18572 times)

Offline VerSpaceNASA

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How long will Curiosity last?
« on: 05/15/2013 02:39 AM »
So, I have a question.

How many years will Curiosity LAST?

I know it's powered a plutonium-fueled radioisotope thermoeletric generator. :)

Offline Jim

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Re: How long will Curiosity last?
« Reply #1 on: 05/15/2013 06:55 AM »
unknown.  it is designed for a year mission duration.  It will likely break down before it runs out of power.

google is your friend.

http://www.space.com/16679-mars-rover-curiosity-nuclear-power-lifespan.html

I was typing "how long" and "how long will curiosity last" was the fourth choice.

« Last Edit: 05/15/2013 06:59 AM by Jim »

Offline Crispy

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Re: How long will Curiosity last?
« Reply #2 on: 05/15/2013 10:26 AM »
unknown.  it is designed for a year mission duration.  It will likely break down before it runs out of power.

google is your friend.

http://www.space.com/16679-mars-rover-curiosity-nuclear-power-lifespan.html

I was typing "how long" and "how long will curiosity last" was the fourth choice.



Google results are tailored to your search and browsing history, of course. All four of my autocompletes for "How long " are about boiling eggs :D

Offline spectre9

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Re: How long will Curiosity last?
« Reply #3 on: 05/15/2013 11:42 AM »
One day they might power down the wheels but that doesn't mean Curiosity will be dead.

Only when there isn't enough power for the heaters and the electronics freeze will it be dead but that doesn't mean the MMRTG will be stone cold just unable to generate enough electricity for heating.

That's how Spirit died as I understand it. They couldn't point the solar panels towards the sun during winter because she was stuck and didn't have the power for the heater to last the winter.

I'm sure that panic to point solar panels towards the sun for winter is something everybody is glad to not have to go through with Curiosity.

Side note : I get the boiling eggs auto-complete too. I must ask google how to cook stuff too often  :-[

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: How long will Curiosity last?
« Reply #4 on: 05/15/2013 12:42 PM »
how long to boil eggs
how long is a 5k
how long do cats live
how long do you boil eggs

Never asked them about eggs, cats or kilometers in my life.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Patchouli

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Re: How long will Curiosity last?
« Reply #5 on: 05/15/2013 03:06 PM »
One day they might power down the wheels but that doesn't mean Curiosity will be dead.

Only when there isn't enough power for the heaters and the electronics freeze will it be dead but that doesn't mean the MMRTG will be stone cold just unable to generate enough electricity for heating.

That's how Spirit died as I understand it. They couldn't point the solar panels towards the sun during winter because she was stuck and didn't have the power for the heater to last the winter.

I'm sure that panic to point solar panels towards the sun for winter is something everybody is glad to not have to go through with Curiosity.

Side note : I get the boiling eggs auto-complete too. I must ask google how to cook stuff too often  :-[
Still hard to tell mechanical issues likely would be the primary decider.
But it should be noted the Viking lander was killed by a faulty software update to the battery charging routine that over written the location of the antenna pointing software.

Even though they were RTG powered they still had batteries probably for surge current as the two RTGs only had an output of 42 watts each.


Offline Star One

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Re: How long will Curiosity last?
« Reply #6 on: 05/15/2013 06:47 PM »
how long to boil eggs
how long is a 5k
how long do cats live
how long do you boil eggs

Never asked them about eggs, cats or kilometers in my life.

I got the one about how long do cats live as well & I have never asked about cats, very odd. I also got how long will it take to get to Mars, maybe I make too many space related enquiries. :)
« Last Edit: 05/15/2013 06:48 PM by Star One »

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: How long will Curiosity last?
« Reply #7 on: 05/15/2013 08:50 PM »
how long to boil eggs
how long is a 5k
how long do cats live
how long do you boil eggs

Never asked them about eggs, cats or kilometers in my life.

I got the one about how long do cats live as well & I have never asked about cats, very odd. I also got how long will it take to get to Mars, maybe I make too many space related enquiries. :)

Maybe they're trying to send me a subliminal suggestion.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Hog

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Re: How long will Curiosity last?
« Reply #8 on: 05/23/2013 07:27 PM »
One day they might power down the wheels but that doesn't mean Curiosity will be dead.

Only when there isn't enough power for the heaters and the electronics freeze will it be dead but that doesn't mean the MMRTG will be stone cold just unable to generate enough electricity for heating.

That's how Spirit died as I understand it. They couldn't point the solar panels towards the sun during winter because she was stuck and didn't have the power for the heater to last the winter.

I'm sure that panic to point solar panels towards the sun for winter is something everybody is glad to not have to go through with Curiosity.

Side note : I get the boiling eggs auto-complete too. I must ask google how to cook stuff too often  :-[

So we are looking at a long term mission similar to the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft? Shutting down systems based on available power?  We could get data fro quite some time I assume.
Paul

Offline spectre9

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Re: How long will Curiosity last?
« Reply #9 on: 05/23/2013 08:01 PM »
I would assume REMS and RAD could keep going after the rover has stopped moving to get long term readings of the atmosphere and radiation environment.

The standard operation seems to be rove, stop, power up instruments. So I guess some instruments will not have the power to be turned on. I'm don't know what instruments use the most power.

Offline stone

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Re: How long will Curiosity last?
« Reply #10 on: 05/26/2013 01:18 PM »
SAM with all its heaters is most likely the most power consuming one.
But SAM only works if the arm is still operational and there is still the vacuum pump is running and still some ovens and some helium left.

With the rate they use the consumables and they operate they have still several years and not one in front of them.

But from other space crafts:
possible points causing the total death:
*software issues
*main electronics issues
*heating problems
*power supply converters

possible points causing slow ageing :
*all mechanical parts especially the wheel motors and the arm motors
*ageing of electronics parts

I asked one of the Curiosity scientist if he is prepared for a 50 times longer mission than planed, like the MER rovers?

He said with a little puzzled face that Curiosity would than be his last mission calculating a end of the mission when he is 140.

Offline Lar

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Re: How long will Curiosity last?
« Reply #11 on: 05/26/2013 02:10 PM »
I asked one of the Curiosity scientist if he is prepared for a 50 times longer mission than planed, like the MER rovers?

He said with a little puzzled face that Curiosity would than be his last mission calculating a end of the mission when he is 140.

Fortunately it doesn't have any reaction wheels :)

(for the humor impaired, this is a joke... why would it have reaction wheels???)

I hope it lasts a long time, and sets a travel record.
« Last Edit: 05/26/2013 05:33 PM by Lar »
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline Jim

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Re: How long will Curiosity last?
« Reply #12 on: 05/26/2013 02:41 PM »
I asked one of the Curiosity scientist if he is prepared for a 50 times longer mission than planed, like the MER rovers?

He said with a little puzzled face that Curiosity would than be his last mission calculating a end of the mission when he is 140.

Fortunately it doesn't have any reaction wheels :)

Unsupported characterization and unnecessary comment.
« Last Edit: 05/26/2013 02:42 PM by Jim »

Offline Lar

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Re: How long will Curiosity last?
« Reply #13 on: 05/26/2013 03:52 PM »

Fortunately it doesn't have any reaction wheels :)

Unsupported characterization and unnecessary comment.

Unsupported characterization and unnecessary comment.

I saw you make a joke the other day, Jim. Lighten up.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: How long will Curiosity last?
« Reply #14 on: 05/26/2013 04:21 PM »

Fortunately it doesn't have any reaction wheels :)

Unsupported characterization and unnecessary comment.

Unsupported characterization and unnecessary comment.

I saw you make a joke the other day, Jim. Lighten up.

Hey!  It's got six wheels.  Each one of them is, well, reacting with the surface every day!
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Online kevin-rf

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Re: How long will Curiosity last?
« Reply #15 on: 05/28/2013 01:02 PM »
And they have dents in them ;)
If you're happy and you know it,
It's your med's!

Offline Norm38

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Re: How long will Curiosity last?
« Reply #16 on: 01/31/2014 04:28 AM »
I'm concerned about the state of the wheels with the accelerating damage and the newfound concern for safer, less punishing routes. One of the reasons Curiosity is braving the dune at Dingo Gap is to reach the smoother terrain beyond. There is what looks like a crack in one wheel. Will that crack spread?  Will that wheel last 10 years?

But I don't understand how this level of wheel damage is possible.
The mass of the rover was known, thus its weight on Mars was known. 
From the weight, the pressure a wheel would exert on a rock was known.
The Mohs hardness of Mars minerals such as basalt is known.

Thus, one could calculate if a sharp rock would puncture a wheel.

Were these calculations not done? Was it a calculated risk to
save weight?  It seems clear the 2020 rover needs thicker wheels that can't be punctured, that are made to last.

Offline hop

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Re: How long will Curiosity last?
« Reply #17 on: 01/31/2014 05:12 AM »
Thus, one could calculate if a sharp rock would puncture a wheel.
The wheels were never designed to be puncture-proof. The strength is in the spokes and treads, the stuff in between is basically beer can. It was known from the start that there would be dents and holes, just like on the testbeds.

The real concern is that the damage has happened faster than they expected. Given the imaging and drive changes it's pretty clear this isn't a minor issue, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's mission threatening. Curiosity can drive on very badly damaged wheels.

Offline NovaSilisko

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Re: How long will Curiosity last?
« Reply #18 on: 01/31/2014 05:14 AM »
I'm under the impression that much of the wheel material is more or less superfluous - if it came down to it, I believe the rover could drive on its "spokes", and the metal skin is just for extra protection. I suppose it's a situation of "we can lose it if we have to, but we'd rather not"

edit: what hop said, more eloquently than I in fact.
« Last Edit: 01/31/2014 05:15 AM by NovaSilisko »

Offline hop

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Re: How long will Curiosity last?
« Reply #19 on: 01/31/2014 05:45 AM »
I suppose it's a situation of "we can lose it if we have to, but we'd rather not"
While holes were definitely expected, my impression is that there is pretty serious concern. It's not clear to me where that concerns fits on a scale of "oh that's happening faster than we would like" to "oh **** we could lose the mission" but it's clearly serious enough to slow progress toward Mt Sharp.

Since it was publicly noted in late November there have been hardly any drives over 30 meters.

From the last status report:
Quote
While continuing to evaluate routes and driving techniques, Curiosity's team will add some weekend and evening shifts in February to enable planning more drives than would otherwise be possible.
I expect this is to try to compensate some for the slower pace.