Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Mars Rover Update

I was prompted to look into the Mars Rovers by an extremely strange dream I had. It consisted of me taking a joyride on a rover (couldn't tell which one). I managed to steer it via bluetooth on a cell phone (which I don't have). After my little ride, I got into a bunch of trouble, but I'm glad it was only a dream, or else I would be super screwed! Well, on to the latest about those brave rovers!

Things still don't look too good. The sky above Meridiani Planum (Opportunity) is still extremely dusty, and it's getting colder, which means it'll take more energy to keep the electronics warm. Right now it's -37C (or -35F), which is close to triggering Opportunity's "survival heaters" which would be a further drain on the battery, and would cause a net loss of energy, rather than its current position of producing a little more than breaking even on ultra-low-power-mode. Remember when I said the dust storm cleaned off Opportunity's solar panels, which was good. Well, all of that dust is now settling, which kinda screws over Opportunity's energy supply even more. As you can see, the change is HIGHLY DRAMATIC:
Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Spirit is also having a few problems. Things are dusty over there at Gusev crater, and Spirit's panels getting dustier than usual. But, we're all fairly confident Spirit will survive this, given that Opportunity is doing SO MUCH worse.

By the way, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter also has a perspective on this dust storm (just in time, eh?). And as you can see, it's REALLY big:
Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech (click for better resolution).
It's huge! The top image is the dust storm as it was developing. As you can see, you can see some areas of dustiness to the left of Opportunity. The bottom image is of the mature dust storm a few weeks ago. As you can see, it's all over the planet. Heh, luckily I don't think we have dust storms this bad on Earth. We should count ourselves lucky! Well, best of luck to the rovers and the guys at JPL! I hope they manage to get through this.

1 comment:

Vicken said...

allo! great stuff, thx for the update!