Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Spirit is willing, but the wheel is stuck


NASA/JPL-Caltech

Spirit is literally dragging a wheel through Mars' dusty soil since the right front wheel has stopped working. And, based on the picture above, it looks like all that dragging has scraped off some of the wheel treads. Must be pretty abrasive soil.

As we all know, the Mars rovers have lasted waaaay longer than anyone expected, and they're still hoping there's life in the old girl yet. NASA engineers are using test rovers to figure out how to get around on Mars with only five wheels.

I just can never get over the fact that these awesome pictures are from the surface of another planet! I always wonder if people will eventually get to Mars and how they'll feel about running into one of our old rovers or crashed spaceships. I sort of imagine it would give you a weird time-traveller feeling. Because it's not like the equipment is going to get all rusty or covered with vines. They'll probably look exactly the same in 500 years as they do now. Maybe covered with dust, though.

3 Comments:

At 1:47 AM, Anonymous Wolverine said...

At the risk of damning them with only faint praise, the MERs have been fantastic. I'm still surprised they haven't received more coverage in the mainstream press (even despite the time devoted to celebrity gossip...).

Sure enough, they made it a point to recently note Spirit's wheel/actuator malady, but not the MERs accomplishments, nor the incredible duration past "warranty" nor the sheer volumes of data returned which are guaranteed to keep planetary scientists busy for years to come. Ah well, par for the course I guess.

 
At 8:07 AM, Blogger Kim said...

If you're old enough to remember SPY magazine, they used to run a meter that compared newsworthy tragedies on a scale of distance. So for example, it takes about 5,000 Pakistanis dying in a flood to equal the newsworthiness of a baby stuck down a well in Topeka. Using the same logic, a broken rover on Mars probably rates about the same newsworthiness as a broken fingernail on Jessica Simpson's pinky.

 
At 6:15 PM, Anonymous Wolverine said...

Heh, I remember. And that sounds pretty accurate.

 

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