NASA Rover Opportunity Succumbs to the Martian Weather After 15 Years of Operation

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by cageymaru, Feb 13, 2019.

  1. cageymaru

    cageymaru [H]ard|News

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    NASA rover "Opportunity" was laid to rest on Tuesday night as attempts to make contact with the long-lived, space explorer wrapped up. Eight months ago, a ferocious, fast-moving Martian dust storm is thought to have covered the solar panels on the rover and cutoff the vital supply of sunlight needed to power the device. NASA says the rover was designed to operate for only 3 months, but the rugged, over-engineered, robotic geologist kept sending data that led to amazing discoveries about Mars for nearly 15 years. It outlived its twin golf cart-sized rover named "Spirit" by 8 years. Since 2004, the rover has traveled a record 28 miles on the surface of the red planet and discovered "evidence that ancient Mars had water flowing on its surface and might have been capable of sustaining microbial life."

    Opportunity was exploring Mars' Perseverance Valley, fittingly, when the fiercest dust storm in decades hit and contact was lost. The storm was so intense that it darkened the sky for months, preventing sunlight from reaching the rover's solar panels. When the sky finally cleared, Opportunity remained silent, its internal clock possibly so scrambled that it no longer knew when to sleep or wake up to receive commands. Flight controllers sent more than 1,000 recovery commands, all in vain. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the overriding goal is to search for evidence of past or even present microbial life at Mars and find suitable locations to send astronauts, perhaps in the 2030s. "While it is sad that we move from one mission to the next, it's really all part of one big objective," he said.
     
  2. Jester1550

    Jester1550 Gawd

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    Slow, respectful clap. Well done. Well done.

    Edit: Now how will Mark Watney call home?!?!
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2019
  3. Krenum

    Krenum [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Farewell little buddy, you did good. /salute
     
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  4. sirmonkey1985

    sirmonkey1985 [H]ard|DCer of the Month - July 2010

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  5. gwarren007

    gwarren007 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Congrats, you gave more than expected.
     
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  6. Tsumi

    Tsumi [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Once we land some humans I'm sure a good dusting and a jump start will be all it needs to explore the next crater.
     
  7. Skillz

    Skillz [H]ard DCOTY 2017

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    I wonder if the solar panels are so covered in dust now that they aren't able to produce any electricity to power it anymore.

    edit
    Nevermind, it's one of the first sentences. That's what I get for skipping to the middle.
     
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  8. Hruodgar

    Hruodgar [H]Lite

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    This says it all. spirit rover.png
     
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  9. pfc_m_drake

    pfc_m_drake [H]ard|Gawd

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  10. cageymaru

    cageymaru [H]ard|News

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  11. seanreisk

    seanreisk Gawd

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    Someday people will visit Opportunity just like they visit Mount Rushmore or Old Faithful. Opportunity will be sitting in a domed display on Mars with an attached museum about Mars and human exploration. There will be a coffee shop, a gift shop, and a solarium. Hopefully they will power her up again so she can take pictures of tourists as they take pictures of her.

    I'll be dead. But I like to look to that future.
     
  12. Twisted Kidney

    Twisted Kidney 2[H]4U

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    That thing is an absolute marvel of engineering.
     
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  13. bot2600

    bot2600 n00b

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    Best Rover Ever!
     
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  14. blandead

    blandead Limp Gawd

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    That's why you should make sentient robots and tell them it's a one way trip
     
  15. CaptNumbNutz

    CaptNumbNutz [H]ard as it Gets

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    That's assuming we are still using the same radio protocols when we finally get there.

    I'm also guessing they would have to replace the batteries as they would no longer hold a charge no matter how functional the solar panels were.

    Fortunately, the Twins big brother rover, Curiosity, runs off a nuclear radioisotope thermoelectric generator. That thing will likely wear out it's wheels before the power goes out.
     
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  16. ChoGGi

    ChoGGi [H]ard|Gawd

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  17. Krenum

    Krenum [H]ardForum Junkie

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  18. ChadD

    ChadD 2[H]4U

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    Go forward another 1000 years and a dude who looks a lot like that ancient aliens dude will be saying on a Martian tv screen "what was this stone ring used for... this rock henge ? Was it aliens... or perhaps our ancient ancestors marking where they made contact ?"

    Hopefully one day we do return to clean off Opportunity and Spirits panels... I bet Opp fires right back up ready to send data home. NASA really knocked this mission out of the park... sleep well boys.
     
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  19. Nanogrip

    Nanogrip Limp Gawd

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    I wonder what brand of batteries were used in Opportunity, 15 years is amazing. RIP for now, Opportunity.
     
  20. Dregan73

    Dregan73 Limp Gawd

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    i guess they didnt think about windshield wipers
     
  21. Loop242

    Loop242 [H]Lite

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    Now that's some bang for your buck. Hats off to the engineers.
     
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  22. ChoGGi

    ChoGGi [H]ard|Gawd

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    2x 15lb Li-ion (containing eight prismatic, 10 Ah cells) made by Yardney Technical, recharged by solar arrays with triple-junction GaInP/GaAs/Ge cells.

    edit: linky for more info
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
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  23. maro

    maro Limp Gawd

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    RIP lil Oppy. You and Spirit have done well.
     
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  24. joobjoob

    joobjoob Gawd

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    The 2009 stimulus was 700 Billion. Nyt economist wanted double or triple that amount. Iraq war estimates are also around 700 Billion.

    National debt is now 20 trillion. Future unfunded liabilities exceed GDP of entire world at 100 trillion.

    For comparison these rover missions are about 2 Billion.

    My point being, much like late stage rome, our empire is broke and headed for histories dust heap sooner or later, but these .01% spending will be our notable contributions to the future they actually remember us positively for.
     
  25. joobjoob

    joobjoob Gawd

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    I expect it will be more like this:

     
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  26. Zyme

    Zyme Limp Gawd

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    JPL is awesome.
     
  27. funkydmunky

    funkydmunky 2[H]4U

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    So sad that the Telemetry data has been lost and we will only get weak CGI. :(
    NASA is awesome!
     
  28. rigurat

    rigurat Limp Gawd

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    Per JPL spokesperson, "...JPL spacecraft either don't work or work REALLY well...
     
  29. Oldmodder

    Oldmodder Gawd

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  30. daglesj

    daglesj [H]ardness Supreme

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    Lol, 90 days...and weight. ;)
     
  31. Dead Parrot

    Dead Parrot 2[H]4U

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    Given how well this design has worked out, I have often wonder why NASA hasn't sent more of them with improved science equipment. Could likely build several of this design for each of the larger nuclear powered Curiosity design. Be cool if the weight was light enough to use a Falcon 9.
     
  32. Submarinesailor

    Submarinesailor [H]Lite

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  33. Todd Walter

    Todd Walter Gawd

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    I wonder if the fact it lasted this long was because some engineer noticed that NASA gave them more of a weight budget than expected?
     
  34. Vader1975

    Vader1975 Gawd

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    A good wind storm in just the right direction will clear the solar pannel Nd suddenly it will respond again. I don’t consider this mission “over” just paused for awhile.
     
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  35. PaulP

    PaulP Gawd

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    Because there is only one reasonable launch opportunity (due to planetary alignment between Earth and Mars) every two years or so. And these things are expensive to build, launch, and monitor. NASA has only so much money in it's budget every year and even then it can't use it all on planetary exploration missions. Also remember that the rovers depend on orbiters to relay data, and those orbiters need to be replaced regularly too.
     
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  36. katanaD

    katanaD [H]ard|Gawd

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    let us also not forget the intense pearl clutching that happens whenever the word nuclear is even whispered
     
  37. CombatChrisNC

    CombatChrisNC [H]ard|Gawd

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    VbKV9DF.jpg

    The optimistic happy ending.
     
  38. greenman

    greenman Gawd

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    The little engine that could.
     
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  39. HeadRusch

    HeadRusch [H]ard|Gawd

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    I think the batteries are the issue at this point.......
     
  40. Draax

    Draax [H]ardness Supreme

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    One day V’Ger will return to collect her children spirit and opportunity.
     
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