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

agzak at optonline.net agzak at optonline.net
Wed Nov 12 11:47:34 EST 2008

Many satellites are designed to rotate their solar panels to maximize power input. The same type of device could take care of dust accumulating on solar panels. During MER missions, flight controllers did have to place the rover on the slope to maximize power. It seems that making rotating solar panels is better solution than reliance on winds in the Martian atmosphere.   

Anatoly Zak

----- Original Message -----
From: James Oberg <jameseoberg at comcast.net>
Date: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 11:31 am
Subject: Re: [FPSPACE] Spirit rover's power is running down,due to dust storms
To: agzak at optonline.net, fpspace at friends-partners.org

> 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 
> choiceof 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).

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