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Twin Mars rovers instrument glitch (from ATSNN)

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posted on Mar, 19 2005 @ 12:59 PM
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The alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer which analyzes the chemical composition of rocks has been swapped with one intended for the Mars Spirit and vice versa. While the instruments are virtually identical, it does explain the slight anomaly in readings. While the rovers have had instrument problems in the past, the source was never known. Now, knowing that they've been switched, answers to unexplained difficulties may be forthcoming.


 



www.newscientist.com
NASA's Mars rovers Opportunity and Spirit are identical twins - so alike that they even fooled NASA. Researchers have discovered that they sent the robots to Mars with an instrument meant for Opportunity inside Spirit and vice versa.

While the bungle does not undermine the main scientific conclusions drawn from the data collected by the rovers, it is an embarrassing slip-up for a space agency that once lost a Mars spacecraft because engineers mixed up metric and imperial units.

But something was worrying Ralf Gellert of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany. Gellert runs an instrument on the rovers called the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer (APXS), which analyses the chemical composition of rocks. Opportunity had found higher concentrations of certain elements in the soil at its Meridiani Planum landing site than Spirit had at the Gusev Crater, but on a windswept Mars the concentrations should have evened out all over the planet.


Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


This is pretty silly. You'd think NASA would have the top of the line component identification system. As the article notes, they lost the last mission because they mixed up pounds with newtons, which is a pretty big mix up. I would suggest they lengthen their mission schedule or rotate more staff. Although both rovers were identical, even this mistake affected the sensitive data they are collecting.

[edit on 19-3-2005 by ktprktpr]

[edit on 19-3-2005 by ktprktpr]




posted on Mar, 19 2005 @ 01:18 PM
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Your opening paragraph is minimal. A couple more sentances should do the trick.



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