About the current Rover mission

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Hello all:

I was seeing all the news about rover mission , but catch my eyes that rover was stopped due to a dust storm , maybe it's solar panels is covered with dust and the batteries charging in its minimum for that reason .
is that possible

best
H
 

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  • #2
.Scott
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Definitely.
There are two rovers up there right now:
Curiosity: https://mars.nasa.gov/msl/
Opportunity: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/mars-exploration-rover-opportunity-mer/

Actually there are others - but they stopped working years ago.

Opportunity is the one that is in trouble. It went silent at the start of a Martian planetary dust storm and hasn't been heard from since. If they cannot contact is soon, it will perish in the cold Martian winter.

Curiosity also went through that dust storm. But it is nuclear powered and so was able to continue operations throughout the darkness.
 
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  • #3
CWatters
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Hello all:

I was seeing all the news about rover mission , but catch my eyes that rover was stopped due to a dust storm , maybe it's solar panels is covered with dust and the batteries charging in its minimum for that reason .
is that possible

best
H
I believe the Spirit and Opportunity rovers survived much longer than expected because wind cleaned the solar panels more than anticipated.
 
  • #4
.Scott
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I believe the Spirit and Opportunity rovers survived much longer than expected because wind cleaned the solar panels more than anticipated.
The normal planetary cycle puts a windy summer season after the dust storm season. This is followed by the cold winter.
Both Spirit and Opportunity had survived dust storms before - and enjoyed a bit of a cleaning during the windy summer that followed. But this past storm was dustier than usual and shut Opportunity down completely. The hope was that summer winds would dust off the solar panels enough to revive communications. But that has not happened. In order for Opportunity to weather the winter, it needs to be positioned to capture as much sun as it can get. If this does not happen, it will suffer the same fate as it's sister rover, Spirit - some of its components will be damaged by the intense cold - and it will not be possible to continue its mission.
 
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May I ask why opportunity isn’t nuclear powered, I would assume cost but a lost rover must be more expensive than nuclear power. By the way I do not know much about the rovers
 
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russ_watters
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Both Spirit and Opportunity had survived dust storms before - and enjoyed a bit of a cleaning during the windy summer that followed. But this past storm was dustier than usual and shut Opportunity down completely. The hope was that summer winds would dust off the solar panels enough to revive communications. But that has not happened. In order for Opportunity to weather the winter, it needs to be positioned to capture as much sun as it can get. If this does not happen, it will suffer the same fate as it's sister rover, Spirit - some of its components will be damaged by the intense cold - and it will not be possible to continue its mission.
RIP Spirit.
May I ask why opportunity isn’t nuclear powered, I would assume cost but a lost rover must be more expensive than nuclear power. By the way I do not know much about the rovers
Cost is the answer, but it's worth noting that Spirit outlived it's intended 90 day mission by a factor of 20, so it wasn't a "loss" in the sense of a failed mission.
 
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.Scott
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May I ask why opportunity isn’t nuclear powered, I would assume cost but a lost rover must be more expensive than nuclear power. By the way I do not know much about the rovers
It's not just the cost of the rover. Spirit and Opportunity were lighter vehicles and so they were able to land using a relatively simple heat shield; parachute; airbag; rocket sequence. Curiosity was too heavy for that and needed a more sophisticated thruster-guided heat shield; parachute; rocket-powered skyhook; lowering by cable. It was much more complicated.

Given the track record for landing craft on Mars, the Curiosity landing was incredibly bold. Certainly the experience gained with landing Spirit ans Opportunity contributed to the ability to get the much larger Curiosity nicely placed onto Mars.

Also, the design life for Opportunity and Spirit was 90 days. So surviving dust season was not an initial objective.
 
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  • #10
Tom.G
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but considering it was only expected to last ~ 90 days. Lasting 15 years in such a harsh environment is pretty awesome :smile:
If that longevity were applied to Humans we would live 5170 years. Scary or exciting?
 
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To be fair I think the expected lifespan is always on the cautious side, they would have been disappointed if it had actually keeled over after 90 days.
 
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  • #12
BillTre
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