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Mars Rovers Get New Capabilities

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posted on Jan, 1 2007 @ 08:18 PM
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Starting in on their fourth year of what was supposed to be a 90 day mission, both Spirit and Opportunity Rovers will get updated software that will give them new capabilities. NASA will update them with their "Thinking Spacecraft" technology that will improve their performance as they continue their journeys of discovery.

One aspect of the upgrade will allow them to identify and specially photograph Dust Devils, or whirlwinds that have occasionally been seen on Mars. Previously NASA has had to sift through hundreds of images looking for Dust Devils. Now, the Rovers can identify them on their own and send back the relevant images. This portion of the upgrade can also be used to look for cloud formations in the rarefied Martian atmosphere.

A second new feature is called "visual target tracking" which allows the Rovers to recognize designated landmarks as it travels. As the Rover passes designated formations it will continue to be able to recognize them even when the angle, distance, or apparent size changes. This will help significantly in maneuvering.

Along with the "visual target tracking system" the Rovers will now have "go and touch" self determined capabilities. Previously NASA had to examine photos of where the Rovers stopped the day before, and then choose a location for the Rover to examine further. Now the Rovers can self determine a good spot and go examine it them selves. This will significantly speed up exploration.

Until now the Rovers could only think one step ahead. Now they will be much smarter about navigating complex terrain and will be able to tackle more challenging pathways and find routes around obstacles with greater ease.

To date, these two little workhorses have traveled far, made many important discoveries, and taken over 160,000 images of the surface of Mars. Through their amazing efforts we continue to learn more about the universe around us.

origin.mars5.jpl.nasa.gov...




posted on Jan, 1 2007 @ 08:30 PM
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Oh and one more thing I forgot to mention ... They were given specific instructions not to stop for hitchhikers.


jra

posted on Jan, 1 2007 @ 09:14 PM
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That's pretty cool. Nice to see them getting some software upgrades. It's amazing that they've been going for four years now. Good stuff



posted on Jan, 1 2007 @ 09:44 PM
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Cool thanks for the update on these guys.


They certainly are tough and have performed amazingly. I still wonder if aliens are maintaining them!



posted on Jan, 1 2007 @ 10:53 PM
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Originally posted by djohnsto77
Cool thanks for the update on these guys.


They certainly are tough and have performed amazingly. I still wonder if aliens are maintaining them!


So do I, and I am being dead serious. Think about it, years ago the rover team thought they were going to run into issues with solar power battery life, due to the collection of martian dust on the panels. Fortunately, it was discovered that the dust had been removed and the panels were fine again, the team attributed the cleaning possibly to a dust devil. Fast foward 4 years later and you never hear about problems with dust collection.

For the rovers solar panels to always be clean that would mean a dust devil would have to brush them time and time again. What are the chances of that? I know, I know; you'll say "but what are the chances aliens are flying around on Mars", well if you perscribe to the theory that they fly around earth from time to time, surely you would think they make trips to all of the planets in the solar system.

I believe the rover team has some extrahelpers on their team.



posted on Jan, 2 2007 @ 08:22 PM
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The cool thing is that these new capabilities are just the beginning. These two champs of Rover exploration are test beds for future mission equpment. NASA plans on utilizing the "Smart Machine" tech on all future Rovers. This is also the type of stuff being developed for DARPAs driverless car challenge. Self navagation is on it's way!



posted on Jan, 6 2007 @ 02:45 PM
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Originally posted by pompano

Originally posted by djohnsto77
Cool thanks for the update on these guys.


They certainly are tough and have performed amazingly. I still wonder if aliens are maintaining them!


So do I, and I am being dead serious. Think about it, years ago the rover team thought they were going to run into issues with solar power battery life, due to the collection of martian dust on the panels. Fortunately, it was discovered that the dust had been removed and the panels were fine again, the team attributed the cleaning possibly to a dust devil. Fast foward 4 years later and you never hear about problems with dust collection.

For the rovers solar panels to always be clean that would mean a dust devil would have to brush them time and time again. What are the chances of that? I know, I know; you'll say "but what are the chances aliens are flying around on Mars", well if you perscribe to the theory that they fly around earth from time to time, surely you would think they make trips to all of the planets in the solar system.

I believe the rover team has some extrahelpers on their team.


The Dust Devils aren't cleaning them, but wind storms in general are doing it. Wind storms are quite common on Mars, and cover large areas.

NASA's original concern regarding dusty solar panels seems pretty valid, and since they didn't know that much about Mars weather, I don't find it strange at all that they didn't foresee the winds' serendipitous effect. You don't hear about the problem of dust anymore because the wind storms have been doing a good job in keeping the panels clean.

This seems a bit more probable than an alien with a feather duster.



posted on Jan, 6 2007 @ 04:08 PM
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Originally posted by Soylent Green Is People

Originally posted by pompano

Originally posted by djohnsto77
Cool thanks for the update on these guys.


They certainly are tough and have performed amazingly. I still wonder if aliens are maintaining them!


So do I, and I am being dead serious. Think about it, years ago the rover team thought they were going to run into issues with solar power battery life, due to the collection of martian dust on the panels. Fortunately, it was discovered that the dust had been removed and the panels were fine again, the team attributed the cleaning possibly to a dust devil. Fast foward 4 years later and you never hear about problems with dust collection.

For the rovers solar panels to always be clean that would mean a dust devil would have to brush them time and time again. What are the chances of that? I know, I know; you'll say "but what are the chances aliens are flying around on Mars", well if you perscribe to the theory that they fly around earth from time to time, surely you would think they make trips to all of the planets in the solar system.

I believe the rover team has some extrahelpers on their team.


The Dust Devils aren't cleaning them, but wind storms in general are doing it. Wind storms are quite common on Mars, and cover large areas.

NASA's original concern regarding dusty solar panels seems pretty valid, and since they didn't know that much about Mars weather, I don't find it strange at all that they didn't foresee the winds' serendipitous effect. You don't hear about the problem of dust anymore because the wind storms have been doing a good job in keeping the panels clean.

This seems a bit more probable than an alien with a feather duster.



I agree that it is more probable than the alien feather duster theory, lol. I did not know about these storms and I assumed when Nasa was baffeled by the cleansings, they would have been studying Mars long enough to realize these storms exist. They have spent billions studying the planet, you would think for that much money they would have known something like that, lol.



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