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Thread: Opportunity rover survives Martian winter for eighth time

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    Default Opportunity rover survives Martian winter for eighth time

    Opportunity rover survives Martian winter for eighth time (LINK)



    [Image: A small section of Perseverance Valley captured by Opportunity in October 2017.]

    Emerges without much dust, ready for fourteenth Earth year of ops - rather longer than planned 90-day mission!

    It has been the week of long-lived space hardware: first came the news of Voyager 1's thrusters working after 37 years without use and now NASA's cautiously suggested that the Opportunity rover on Mars will be fit to roll into its14th year of red planet operations.

    Two big threats imperil Opportunity's ongoing operations. The first is Mars' winter, as it relies on solar energy and to harvest that it needs a favourable parking spot that tiltsit to the North. Opportunity's twin, Spirit, succumbed in 2009 after two wheels failed and it couldn't orient itself to the North and couldn't catch sufficient rays to resume operations.

    The second threat is dust, as when it gathers on solar panels they become less efficient. Mars is infamous for itsspring dust storms, so emerging from winter with dusty panels is not welcome ahead of storm season.

    The good news is that NASA's announced that Mars' darkest weeks ended in November and Opportunity has power and, happily, has had some of itsdust cleaned off by wind.

    That assessment's seen mission boffins declare the rover ready to roll, and in such good condition that it could probably survive a proper planetary dust storm.

    Once it is up and rolling, NASA plans to send Opportunity down Perseverance Valley, a feature cut into the rim of Endeavour Crater. NASA sent it there because after years on the Crater's rim it was felt we'd learned all we could about conditions at the top, but needed to know more about the inside of the crater.

    It is thought Perseverance Valley was carved by fluid, but past observations haven't proven that hypothesis.

    We've placed an October 2017 image from inside the valley at the top of this story. NASA said it shows "a bedrock target area in this view is called "La Bajada" and " striations just above and parallel to the edge of a solar panel [that] may be due to abrasion by wind-driven sand. Researchers interpret them as possible signs of past winds blowing from right to left, up and out of the crater, which currently hosts sand dunes on its central floor."

    Hope the voyage is a long one.
    May there be many a summer morning when,
    with what pleasure, what joy,
    you come into harbors seen for the first time...

    Ithaka, by Cavafy
    (Keeley - Sherrard translation)

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    Default Re: Opportunity rover survives Martian winter for eighth time

    I mean no offense to others and their relatives who read these posts, but I find this to be so tremendously more interesting than watching astronauts float in a tin can doing back flips in zero G! I know I'm in the minority.

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    Default Re: Opportunity rover survives Martian winter for eighth time




    I am continually amazed by the work done at NASA.
    Disbelief in magic can force a poor soul into believing in government and business.
    TOM ROBBINS, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues



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    Default Re: Opportunity rover survives Martian winter for eighth time

    Quote Originally Posted by CWSmith View Post
    I mean no offense to others and their relatives who read these posts, but I find this to be so tremendously more interesting than watching astronauts float in a tin can doing back flips in zero G! I know I'm in the minority.
    Just think how exciting it would be to watch an astronaut mosey over to a puzzling patch of ground and give a play-by-play analysis of what they found. Remember the Apollo 15 anorthosite "genesis rock" and Apollo 17 "orange soil" episodes in the exploration of the Moon?



    [Image: The Genesis Rock presented itself in situ on top of a pedestal, "as though it had been waiting for someone to retrieve it." Apollo 15 Dave Scott and Jim Irwin, aware on sight of the sample's potential value, were careful to photograph the find both before and after retrieval.
    AS15-86-11670 (NASA/ALSJ).]





    [Image: Apollo 17 astronauts found unusual orange soil on the rim of Shorty crater]

    Hope the voyage is a long one.
    May there be many a summer morning when,
    with what pleasure, what joy,
    you come into harbors seen for the first time...

    Ithaka, by Cavafy
    (Keeley - Sherrard translation)

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    Default Re: Opportunity rover survives Martian winter for eighth time

    what a lesson in energy conservation

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    Default Re: Opportunity rover survives Martian winter for eighth time

    The thing is, the rovers don't take pictures all the time. There is not enough energy or data-feed for that.

    They don't "have their head on a swivel", like a person would. Who knows how many snail shells they've rolled by, but didn't photograph?

    Humans are very good at "catching sight" of what they need to look for.

    A machine like the rover cannot care.

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    Default Re: Opportunity rover survives Martian winter for eighth time

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hadfield View Post
    The thing is, the rovers don't take pictures all the time. There is not enough energy or data-feed for that.

    They don't "have their head on a swivel", like a person would. Who knows how many snail shells they've rolled by, but didn't photograph?

    Humans are very good at "catching sight" of what they need to look for.

    A machine like the rover cannot care.
    Yet.

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    Default Re: Opportunity rover survives Martian winter for eighth time

    But how many rovers could we put on the surface of Mars for the cost of sending and supporting one human being?

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    Default Re: Opportunity rover survives Martian winter for eighth time

    Quote Originally Posted by CWSmith View Post
    But how many rovers could we put on the surface of Mars for the cost of sending and supporting one human being?
    exactly. This is the application for intelligent machines. Instead of spending all that energy to transport an Earth like bubble of life support weighing tons develop a machine suited for that environment. People arent 10,000’ deep in the ocean working on wellheads, ROVs are.

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    Default Re: Opportunity rover survives Martian winter for eighth time

    What a machine does has no real significance for most people. It doesn't matter.

    What a person does, HAS significance.

    We never "imagine what it would be like" when we view a machine. But we definitely do with a person.

    People matter. Machines only matter in so far as they make things better for people. It's the people that count.

    And when it comes to budgets, and expensive programs, it's human imagination that has to be appealed to.

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    Default Re: Opportunity rover survives Martian winter for eighth time

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hadfield View Post
    And when it comes to budgets, and expensive programs, it's human imagination that has to be appealed to.
    This is well known at NASA HQ. The astronauts bring in the dollars and the machines do the science.

    Here is the fun bit. Go to a school where the kids have learned about the rovers and Voyagers and the like and ask them what is more exciting. It isn't the astronauts anymore. It will be if they go to Mars, but sitting in the space station does not turn them on anymore. They like robots.

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    Default Re: Opportunity rover survives Martian winter for eighth time

    It would be stupid and criminal to send germ-filled meat bags to Mars before being sure there is no native life. Rovers can be baked into near-sterility and sent to look for life without contaminating the samples. And they will be able to do "head turns" and efficient reconnaissance well before humans can land in Mars.

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    Default Re: Opportunity rover survives Martian winter for eighth time

    Quote Originally Posted by George. View Post
    It would be stupid and criminal to send germ-filled meat bags to Mars before being sure there is no native life.
    Isn't that the fatal flaw in most sci fi? All the imagined intermingling of different species and no one thinks about the plagues that are unleashed.

    Yes, the NASA planetary mission rules about biological contamination are severe as well they should be. I hope the other nations are as demanding.

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    Default Re: Opportunity rover survives Martian winter for eighth time

    Not just plagues. If we go farting and burping around Mars and then find DNA-based life, we'll never know if it was contamination or panspermia.

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    Default Re: Opportunity rover survives Martian winter for eighth time

    No. There is a near-certainty of Earth-style DNA on Mars already. Whether there was life there has not been proven, but fragments of DNA, yes, of course it has reached there.

    Asteroid impacts have blasted rock off the Earth many times since DNA started to work 4B years ago. Those rocks get hurled into space, travel through the system on their own, and get swept up by other planets. In some interior nook or crevice of one of those rocks, you can be sure there was DNA.

    If we find evidence of life on Mars, it is no proof at all of life in the universe outside our system.

    And perhaps it was the other way around -- Earth could have been seeded from Mars.

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    Default Re: Opportunity rover survives Martian winter for eighth time

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hadfield View Post
    And perhaps it was the other way around -- Earth could have been seeded from Mars.
    Actually, I think it's been proven there is a remnant form of microbial life inside rocks that came from Mars.

    Perspective plays into this in a big way. NH works fairly hard to maintain a "natural" environment because it's good for tourism. However, it's all 2nd growth forest that resulted from the mass migration of farmers out of NH and toward the midwest. Still, we work to preserve it.

    The goal is not to provide added contamination. So long as we don't know what's there, we should try not to add to it.

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    Default Re: Opportunity rover survives Martian winter for eighth time

    Quote Originally Posted by CWSmith View Post
    Actually, I think it's been proven there is a remnant form of microbial life inside rocks that came from Mars.

    Perspective plays into this in a big way. NH works fairly hard to maintain a "natural" environment because it's good for tourism. However, it's all 2nd growth forest that resulted from the mass migration of farmers out of NH and toward the midwest. Still, we work to preserve it.

    The goal is not to provide added contamination. So long as we don't know what's there, we should try not to add to it.
    You're thinking of ALH84001 (LINK);
    eventually concluded to be a (fascinating) false alarm.

    The meteorite is best known for gaining intense media attention in 1996 when a group of scientists claimed to have found evidence for microscopic fossils of Martian bacteria in it, culminating in then U.S. president Bill Clinton giving a speech about the potential discovery.

    These claims were controversial from the beginning, and the wider scientific community ultimately rejected the hypothesis once all the unusual features in the meteorite had been explained without requiring life to be present. Despite there being no convincing evidence of Martian life, the initial paper and scientific and public attention caused by it are considered to be turning points in the history of the developing science of astrobiology.
    Quote Originally Posted by CWSmith
    Isn't that the fatal flaw in most sci fi? All the imagined intermingling of different species and no one thinks about the plagues that are unleashed.
    There are so many types of amino acids, and so many possible DNA-analogues, that the likelihood of Earthlife being either predator or prey of ET organisms is vanishingly small. That being said, I agree that we should work hard at not contaminating off-world environments. Though, as noted by Mr. Hadfield, that may not be possible -- Bacteria found on space station hull (LINK)

    Hope the voyage is a long one.
    May there be many a summer morning when,
    with what pleasure, what joy,
    you come into harbors seen for the first time...

    Ithaka, by Cavafy
    (Keeley - Sherrard translation)

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