posted on Mar, 16 2005 @ 01:57 PM
Ok, the title of this thread is a little misleading (as the devils were photographed during the day while the cleanings have occured at night), but I
wanted to jam all the relevant info into the lead so that it would get people's attention.
Basically, for the last year the rovers on Mars (particularly Opportunity) have been getting their solar panels cleaned at night. This has allowed
them to operate on Mars for far longer than expected. It's also been unexplainable.
Now. however, NASA has photographed a 'dust devil' spinning by the rover Spirit around the same time that its panels were cleaned. Coincidence?
Explanation? Some people think that this solves the mystery of the rover cleanings while others point out that these dust-offs have occured at night
when dust devils are supposedly impossible:
"The team is still figuring out exactly when the power boost occurred, and whether it was a single event or not. Science team member Geoffrey Landis
told New Scientist that the cleaning of the solar panels may have taken place at night. But dust devils occur only in the midday sunlight, he notes,
so it may have simply been a strong breeze that cleaned the rover.
"Too much of a coincidence?
"Matthew Golombek of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory considers the breeze hypothesis implausible. Golombek, who was the chief scientist of the
Pathfinder mission and is another member of the rover science team, told New Scientist: "We wait for months to see a dust devil and finally catch one
and there's this big power boost within a day of it? That's too much of a coincidence." '
So, perhaps our understanding of Martian meteorology is off... or maybe these dust devils aren't really what we think they are?
[edit on 16-3-2005 by onlyinmydreams]