The Mars rovers are now going on 6 years of crawling around the Martian surface looking for evidence of life. Of the two, Spirit has had the toughest time of it, losing the use of one of it’s six wheels forcing it to continue its trek backwards since 2006. In April it got stuck again, and scientists have been working on figuring out how to extricate the robot from some soft sand around a small crater ever since. There has been some good to come out of the ordeal as Spirit’s spinning wheels have revealed more evidence of the past presence of water and conditions that might have supported life. More information about the findings can be read in this more recent article at Physorg.
Originally designed for a 3 month trek, the little robots that put the term ‘remote controlled’ into cosmic perspective have proven very sturdy and well designed providing a number of interesting discoveries over the years. I’ve been following the rovers’ trek since they were just being planned and was lucky enough to catch a great lecture at Stony Brook 3 years ago given by one of the members of the Rover science team, but a quick look back through the posts on this site reveals that I never wrote about that, and have only mentioned the other rover (Opportunity) once. [edit: oops, make that twice]
I lose enough money in the company lottery pool on odds much worse than this, so I’m betting asteroid 2007 WD5 will slam into Mars on jan 30th even though NASA is only laying odds at something under 4% right now that it will. The Near Earth Object Program has the details. Even if it doesn’t hit, it’s worth keeping an eye on the red planet if weather allows…
Continue reading “Betting on a Mars blast”
The Mars rover Opportunity will descend into Victoria crater despite the very real risk that it might not be able to get back out of it again. Rolling down into the crater should allow scientists to investigate progressively older rock strata, an opportunity 🙂 whose benefits far outweigh the risks. Nothing in the rovers’ original mission plan allowed for more than a few months of scratching about on the surface, so for Geologists everywhere, this is really a dream come true. Opportunity should begin the trek into the crater sometime in early July.
Story on Astronomy.com
Back in 2004 I wrote about the evidence scientists were finding for water on ancient Mars, and the arguments for and against it on the surface of Mars today. Now we’ve got some great pics that could settle the question? While the pics certainly show a flow of some kind that has happened since 2001, not all scientists are convinced that they are evidence of flowing water. Read More for these less sensational viewpoints.
Continue reading “Not really water on Mars?”
It’s almost sad that the next mission to Mars brought to you by Lockheed Martin will be called ‘Phoenix’. You’ll recall with regret, that for some reason the engineers on the Mars Climate Orbiter project in 1999 weren’t aware that NASA used the metric system and lost that $125 million dollar spacecraft months before the ill-fated Polar Lander was set to rendevous with it. The Polar Lander was subsequently lost as well. Read on for links to the new project…
Continue reading “Rise like the Phoenix”