[FPSPACE] Spirit rover's power is running down, due to dust storms

James Oberg jameseoberg at comcast.net
Wed Nov 12 11:31:39 EST 2008


The story was about a dust storm in the upper atmosphere causing
an area-wide 'brown-out'.

That's way beyond the range of any gas jets on the rover.

The amazing longevity of the rover mechanisms -- even the TES crystals
which were supposed to shatter in the cold of the first winter -- tempts us 
to
re-design the original vehicle, armed with precognition. I wonder if the
trade-off between some instrument left behind, replaced by a solar panel 
cleaning
device of equal weight and power consumption, would have led to the choice
of the cleaner. If so, it would have been the wrong choice, since it turns 
out
the martian atmosphere provides self-cleaning episodes at no cost to the 
rovers.
The science would have been sacrificed to no operational advantage.

These rovers aren't going to live forever -- but they may outlive some of 
us!
Amazing, from all angles. But as for implications of future vehicle 
design -- that's
another story.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: <agzak at optonline.net>
To: <fpspace at friends-partners.org>
Sent: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 10:11 AM
Subject: Re: [FPSPACE] Spirit rover's power is running down,due to dust 
storms


It seems that some relatively simple solutions such as rotating or blowing 
solar panels with cold gas could resolve the problem and prolong these 
missions. I am wondering if anything like that is considered for future 
spacecraft. (Of course, placing an RTG on the rover eliminates the problem 
altogether).

Anatoly Zak
http://www.russianspaceweb.com



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