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Mars rover adds hill climbing to list of accomplishments

  1. Sep 3, 2005 #1
    http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n0509/01marsrovers/

    Astounding to think the rovers only had a such a limited life span expectation to begin with, yet they are still going so strong nearly two years on.

    I wonder if they could carry on for a few more years yet?! After all the Martian summer must be around the corner, and the solar panels will get ample charging from the overhead passing sun in the equatorial locations...



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  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 3, 2005 #2

    LURCH

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    Regarding the summer, the summer solstice on Mars just passed (about a week ago, I think). The to rovers are both in the southern hemisphere, and their days will be getting shorter and colder now.

    However, the mission controllers are still talking as though they have plans to continue the mission for several months to come. In fact, in a recent article there was reference to one location where Spirit could spend much of the winter, because there is a rock outcropping to shelter from the Martian wind, and the slope would angle the solar panels so that they catch the maximum possible amount of sunlight. Sounds like they still plan on roving when next spring comes around!
     
  4. Sep 3, 2005 #3
    Keep it going as long as possible! I agree, this is quite amazing, certainly a successful mission. I remember when they first launched the rovers, and then when both successfully landed on Mars. I was so excited, but never believed they would operate for this long, I think it's great, there is so much about Mars to discover, and every piece of information gathered will contribute to future missions to Mars.

    Does anybody know if the rovers take atmospheric measurements? That would be extremely useful information for planning a manned mission to the planet in the future.
     
  5. Sep 4, 2005 #4
    The exploration data gathered so far is looking really promising, and will probably take many years of analysis to fulfill the mission's full potential. Climbing the hills obviously adds an extra dimension to all the surface geology, and is great. But if the terrain had offered depression gorges and chasms, that went deep into the crust, imagine how much value that would have added; the sub-surface ice and the frozen 'water table' surely can't be that far below the dry sea beds at both rover sites.

    I'd really like to see future robots going deep into the floor of the Valles Marineris canyon system, which is about 5 or 6 km below the Martian 'mean sea level'. At such locations, the atmospheric pressure would be significantly greater and it is possible that liquid water could readily seep out of the water table...

    Then also, those regions would get far less direct UV and harmful radiation exposure, being spots sheltered by the surrounding terrain, and it may just be possible for some primitive forms of life, such as algae or microbes to thrive under the conditions. Since the Valles Marineris canyon runs along the Martian equator, midday temperatures in such deep locations would probably average a comfy 20 degrees C or better all year round!

    And if the seeping water there did vaporise into a localised 'cloud' that hung above the rocks, it could trap more heat from the daytime sun, to keep the place from plunging too far into the minus temperatures at night... keeping the locale comfortable for microscopic entities to possibly thrive...
    I hope to see some future robotic missions that target the deep equatorial canyons of Mars, as that's where the greatest chances of locating any water or simple life would be, IMHO. :)

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  6. Sep 4, 2005 #5

    Pengwuino

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    That must be some complicated stuff to think that a rover takes months to go walking distances for us.
     
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