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posted by janrinok on Tuesday June 12, @10:42PM   Printer-friendly
from the we're-rootin'-for-you dept.

The Mars Opportunity rover is caught in a dust storm, and the craft is hunkered down doing its best to survive the intensifying weather. The storm was first detected on Friday June 1st by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, at which point the rover's team was notified because of the weather event's proximity to Opportunity. The rover uses solar panels, so a dust storm could have an extremely negative impact on Opportunity's power levels and its batteries.

By Wednesday June 6th, Opportunity was in minimal operations mode because of sharply decreasing power levels. The brave little rover is continuing to weather the storm; it sent a transmission back to Earth Sunday morning, which is a good sign. It means there's still enough charge left in the batteries to communicate with home, despite the fact that the storm is continuing to worsen.

[...] The main concern here isn't the dust storm itself. It's the need to keep the rover's heaters operational while maintaining a minimal power level in the batteries. This isn't the first storm that Opportunity has weathered, but it is the worst. According to NASA, the weather event the rover faced in 2007 had an opacity level around 5.5. The estimate for this current storm is somewhere around 10.8.

Opportunity is a hardy little rover, though, and it has continually defied our expectations over the last 15 years. The rover was only designed to last for a 90-day mission, and yet it's still going. Here's hoping that Oppy will continue its trek across the Martian surface for many, many days to come.


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  • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Thursday June 14, @05:20AM (1 child)

    by bob_super (1357) on Thursday June 14, @05:20AM (#692718)

    That's what Beam Time is for.
    You don't just build one each time. You build a bunch (because the cost is in the design much more than the BOM), and test the heck out of a big sample, before picking one.
    Don't underestimate failure analysis and fault tolerance designs. Some of this stuff is really amazing.

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  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday June 15, @03:52AM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 15, @03:52AM (#693322) Journal

    You don't just build one each time. You build a bunch (because the cost is in the design much more than the BOM), and test the heck out of a big sample, before picking one.

    Actually, most of the time they do build just one. The MERs were a little exceptional in that they built two.