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How much longer can the Mars Rovers last?

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posted on Dec, 10 2005 @ 12:02 PM
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Does anyone know a time table on how much longer the rovers can function usefully? If they last three to four times as long as expected what does that say about future missions to Mars?




posted on Dec, 10 2005 @ 12:08 PM
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NASA has given the rovers an estimated life span of 18 months.
Originally they we only meant to carry out a three month mission but that has changed.


news.bbc.co.uk

Nasa extends Mars rover lifespan

The US space agency (Nasa) has approved up to 18 months of further operations for its twin Mars Exploration Rovers.

Solar-powered robot geologists Spirit and Opportunity have both found signs of a watery past on Mars since landing on the Red Planet in January 2004.

The rovers are showing signs of wear - for example, the teeth on Spirit's rock grinding tool seem to have worn down - but otherwise remain in good shape.

They were originally meant to carry out missions lasting just three months.


Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


The reality is they can go down at anytime if they have a part failure. Another good reason why they sent two rovers instead of one.


EDIT: Also see marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov... for all Mars Rover info.

[edit on 10/12/2005 by Umbrax]



posted on Dec, 10 2005 @ 12:22 PM
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As long as the aliens keep cleaning them and recharging their batteries, they'll last forever.



posted on Dec, 10 2005 @ 12:32 PM
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It looks like this guy forgot his tool box.





posted on Dec, 10 2005 @ 01:51 PM
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The US space agency (Nasa) has approved up to 18 months of further operations for its twin Mars Exploration Rovers.


Right, which meant that after 18 months, NASA would stop funding... They could go longer though. Like Umbrax said though, they can go as long as they can until something really breaks down.



posted on Dec, 10 2005 @ 01:55 PM
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They should start mass producing cheap rovers like this and just scatter then to the wind on Mars and the Moon. We should also make it possible for any manned missions to take over those assets to help with their mission(whenever that happens) Use the rovers to spot some geologically interesting spots and then send the Geologist team over to check it out.



posted on Dec, 10 2005 @ 03:42 PM
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Oh sure we could litterally litter the whole planet with rovers, but the funding is not provided to launch them, nor for operations to maintain contact and update links.

not to metion they can only really operate during the day



posted on Dec, 10 2005 @ 04:41 PM
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If we mass-produce them the costs per probe will drop dramatically. The only obstacle would be launch costs and that can be reduced further with miniturization. We need a robust manned and unmanned platform for Exploration,Exploitation and Settlement.



posted on Dec, 10 2005 @ 04:45 PM
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I think the idea of mass producing small robotic explorers and spreading them all over is a great idea, but one that will require much better technology, especially in areas like artificial intelligence. Basically now it takes an entire team of scientists and engineers watching these guys all the time and telling them what to do.

If we could build ones that can go out and explore on their own and only to need radio back when they've found something interesting, it'd really work great.



posted on Dec, 10 2005 @ 04:48 PM
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I think it would be nice to wait a while for the tech to come along so we can send smaller bots.
Maybe down the line we can send 100's of probes on 2 shipments and let them gather loads of information. I'm thinking small robots that are similar to flying insects. Of coarse they would be tailor made to maneuver around in Mars' thin atmosphere.
We have seen science fiction become reality many times before...who knows.



posted on Dec, 10 2005 @ 05:02 PM
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AI is really the wild card is all this. The slow pace of progress could really hold up a program which has the technology to do quite alot right now. We can add any software or hardware upgrades as they get invented as I want to see a rolling production line allthough the Hardware upgrades will be unavailable to deployed bots, the software upgrades are easily uploaded and implemented(well sort of anyway)



posted on Dec, 10 2005 @ 05:43 PM
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a real problem with mass producing the rovers would be the number of technicians needed to operate and run them. I watched a little documentry type thing on the rovers and it appears to take a fairly large team working nearly non stop shifts to get info and keep an eye on these things.



posted on Dec, 10 2005 @ 05:48 PM
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Thats because they don't want to lose the two rovers they got on Mars. If they had many more then they wouldn't be so anal about it all and is also why I think such a program should be augmented by a vigorous manned program to cut down on signal lag.



posted on Dec, 11 2005 @ 01:06 PM
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I think exploration will have its hey-day when we can develope self-replicating machines, a.k.a. van nuemann probes

until they we are farily limited and human exploration might be better just in terms of the about of information that could be collected



posted on Dec, 11 2005 @ 03:43 PM
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Originally posted by Umbrax
The reality is they can go down at anytime if they have a part failure. Another good reason why they sent two rovers instead of one.


Thats simple just playing the odds something like 1/3 of all Mars probes have failed.

I bet the ESA wish they sent two Beagle probes



posted on Dec, 11 2005 @ 04:49 PM
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Originally posted by sardion2000
They should start mass producing cheap rovers like this and just scatter then to the wind on Mars and the Moon. We should also make it possible for any manned missions to take over those assets to help with their mission(whenever that happens) Use the rovers to spot some geologically interesting spots and then send the Geologist team over to check it out.


Ha! Five minutes ago you were telling me how ineffecient an idea this would be. But this idea cannot happen until manned missions into space are eliminated so that the manpower, resources, and most of all the roughly $4 billion per year can be spent on these probes. NASA could probably fire off 3 a year if it put the effort into it and stopped manned space missions.

Still your idea of a geological team is nonsense. A group of humans could only survive on Mars for a few weeks and then blast off. These rovers however have been on Mars for years. I still do not see your fascination.

If you want to mass produce these machines you are also going to need to find a lot of people willing to work on them. My best bet lies on NASA using college students and volunteers to run the operations, and of course qualified.



posted on Dec, 12 2005 @ 05:03 AM
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The rovers were originally designed with the thought that after about 3 months martian dust would build up on their solar panals enough to reduce their power levels so that they could no longer function. As it turns out the first two months were exactly like this, a slow loss of power. Then something strange happened. the little dust devils seen in the thin mars atmosphere hit one of the rovers. instead of coating the panals in dust and rendering them useless it actually cleared the panal and restored the power. This has happened a number of times now. This has ment the expected life is now only limited by mechanical failure.



posted on Jan, 3 2006 @ 08:46 AM
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And they are still working. This is great, I hope they are finding lots of valuable information.

www.cnn.com...

"These rovers are living on borrowed time. We're so past warranty on them," says Steven Squyres of Cornell University, the Mars mission's principal researcher. "You try to push them hard every day because we're living day to day."



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