Dusty Rovers - The Winters on Mars

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michaelmozina

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http://www.news.com/Photos-Dusty-Mars-rover-finds-water-evidence%2C-seeks-shelter/2300-11397_3-6222461.html?tag=nefd.lede<br /><br />This recent story on the Mars rovers got me to wondering about the "best" approach to surviving a winter on Mars. I'm wondering if it would make sense to park the rover *in* the Martian wind for awhile to see if the wind can't remove the dust from the solar collectors. Unfortunately I don't know very much about the atmosphere on Mars or how feasible it is to expect the wind on Mar to clean off the solar collectors. Does anyone know if there an inside 'plan' to figure out a way to remove the dust from the solar panels?<br /><br />It's absolutely amazing that these instruments can be returning data to the Earth after all this time. You have to appreciate the scientific efforts that went into the design building, launch and maintenance of these systems. That's really impressive. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> It seems to be a natural consequence of our points of view to assume that the whole of space is filled with electrons and flying electric ions of all kinds. - Kristian Birkeland </div>
 
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3488

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Spirit is badly in need of such an event right now.<br /><br />There is no reason IMO why a thread cannot be devoted to this very topic.<br /><br />This shows how bad the situation is with MER A Spirit, Sol 1358.<br /><br />Andrew Brown. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080">"I suddenly noticed an anomaly to the left of Io, just off the rim of that world. It was extremely large with respect to the overall size of Io and crescent shaped. It seemed unbelievable that something that big had not been visible before".</font> <em><strong><font color="#000000">Linda Morabito </font></strong><font color="#800000">on discovering that the Jupiter moon Io was volcanically active. Friday 9th March 1979.</font></em></p><p><font size="1" color="#000080">http://www.launchphotography.com/</font><br /><br /><font size="1" color="#000080">http://anthmartian.googlepages.com/thisislandearth</font></p><p><font size="1" color="#000080">http://web.me.com/meridianijournal</font></p> </div>
 
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michaelmozina

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You aren't kidding about it needing a spring cleaning. <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /><br />I was shocked to see it so dusty and still be functioning at all. Once I realized that the rovers had outlived their expected lifespans by many multiples, it became clear to me why they weren't deployed with their own feather dusters. <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /><br />It seems to me that they might try parking one of them at the top of a hill facing the windward side and see what happens. It might help. I don't see how it could hurt unless the wind was so strong that it pitted the solar cells, or picked up the whole rover.<br /><br />It seems to me that they need a Spring cleaning strategy that involves the Martian wind since that is the only way to clean the solar cells and to extend the life of the mission. <br /><br />I would have to say that the engineering and thought that went into this project is absolutely amazing. Both rovers have outlived their expected lifetime by *years* at this point. I guess the only thing I might try to add to any new rovers in the future (besides more science experiments) would be a feather duster, and a dusting subroutine. <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> It seems to be a natural consequence of our points of view to assume that the whole of space is filled with electrons and flying electric ions of all kinds. - Kristian Birkeland </div>
 
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3488

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Hi Micheal,<br /><br />This has been a very valuable lesson in power management in dangerous conditions<br />(which JPL have excelled at).<br /><br />A duster system would indeed be useful. I can understand why such a system<br />was not used here, due to mass requirements. Put something else on, something else of <br />at least that mass has to come off.<br /><br />The MERs being robotic scientists, of course science instruments were not to be <br />sacrificed (the MERs are certainly well tooled up with high quality instruments) & rightly<br />so IMO.<br /><br />The northward tilt of MER A Spirit will help with sunlight, during the Winter, but will aid<br />as you say, with the panels being cleaned by a good northerly gust. By the laws<br />of averages, this should happen. Hopefully even a dust devil might come by & clear them off.<br /><br />I would not worry about Martian winds tipping the MERs over. The atmospheric density <br />is approx the same as the Earth's is at 30 KM / 19 miles above sea level. So even a gust<br />of over 1,000 KPH will not tip them, although elevated dust particles might be a problem though.<br /><br />Although wind speeds on Mars can be very high, they have very little 'force' behind them<br />in that very thin atmosphere.<br /><br />Andrew Brown. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080">"I suddenly noticed an anomaly to the left of Io, just off the rim of that world. It was extremely large with respect to the overall size of Io and crescent shaped. It seemed unbelievable that something that big had not been visible before".</font> <em><strong><font color="#000000">Linda Morabito </font></strong><font color="#800000">on discovering that the Jupiter moon Io was volcanically active. Friday 9th March 1979.</font></em></p><p><font size="1" color="#000080">http://www.launchphotography.com/</font><br /><br /><font size="1" color="#000080">http://anthmartian.googlepages.com/thisislandearth</font></p><p><font size="1" color="#000080">http://web.me.com/meridianijournal</font></p> </div>
 
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rfoshaug

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>This shows how bad the situation is with MER A Spirit, Sol 1358. <p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />Thanks for the link, Andrew. I didn't know Spirit was that badly covered with dust! No wonder the electricity output from the solar panels is reduced! <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#ff9900">----------------------------------</font></p><p><font color="#ff9900">My minds have many opinions</font></p> </div>
 
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michaelmozina

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>The northward tilt of MER A Spirit will help with sunlight, during the Winter, but will aid as you say, with the panels being cleaned by a good northerly gust. By the laws<br />of averages, this should happen. Hopefully even a dust devil might come by & clear them off.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />Let's hope they get a nice cleaning from a good gust this winter. <br /><br /><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>I would not worry about Martian winds tipping the MERs over. The atmospheric density is approx the same as the Earth's is at 30 KM / 19 miles above sea level. So even a gust of over 1,000 KPH will not tip them, although elevated dust particles might be a problem though.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />Thanks for that information. You're quite a handy guy to have around when it comes to planetary exploration science. <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> It seems to be a natural consequence of our points of view to assume that the whole of space is filled with electrons and flying electric ions of all kinds. - Kristian Birkeland </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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See my post in the Spirit thread for the latest info on Spirits power.<br />I should have posted it here.<br /><br />In fact, it's relevant enough that I will. <br /><br />"sol 1398-1403, December 17, 2007: Final Winter Haven Selection Near <br /><br />To make the most of waning sunlight during the approach of Martian winter, Spirit's handlers have returned to "Mars time." This means their working hours coincide with the Martian day, as they did for the first three months after the rover landed on the red planet. Because a Martian day is about 40 minutes longer than an Earth day, Mars time can coincide with all hours of the day and night on Earth. The alarm might go off the same time one day, 40 minutes later the next day, an hour and 20 minutes later the next day, and so on. <br /><br />Spirit's solar power levels continue to drop, with solar array energies recently ranging from 293 watt-hours to 254 watt-hours, depending on the vehicle's orientation relative to the Sun. (One hundred watt-hours is the amount of energy needed to light a 100-watt bulb for one hour.) <br /><br />All members of the rover science team -- drivers, engineers, and scientists -- are evaluating data to select a place where the rover will attempt to survive another Martian winter, focusing on areas that will tilt the rover's solar panels to the north more than 25 degrees. They will select a final location from a narrowed list of choices based on proximity to the rover's current position and the characteristics of the terrain, with an eye for accessibility as well as continued exploration in the spring. <br /><br />Spirit reached the northern edge of "Home Plate" after driving 13.24 meters (43.44 feet) on Martian day, or sol, 1397 (Dec. 8, 2007). Three Martian days later, on sol 1400 (Dec. 11, 2007), Spirit finished collecting reconnaissance images of the northern exposure of the elevated plateau. "<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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3488

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Thanks MeteorWayne,<br /><br />Looking at the raw images, it looked as though Spirit had already arrived, but it <br />looks as though I was fooled!! <img src="/images/icons/crazy.gif" /><br /><br />Andrew Brown. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080">"I suddenly noticed an anomaly to the left of Io, just off the rim of that world. It was extremely large with respect to the overall size of Io and crescent shaped. It seemed unbelievable that something that big had not been visible before".</font> <em><strong><font color="#000000">Linda Morabito </font></strong><font color="#800000">on discovering that the Jupiter moon Io was volcanically active. Friday 9th March 1979.</font></em></p><p><font size="1" color="#000080">http://www.launchphotography.com/</font><br /><br /><font size="1" color="#000080">http://anthmartian.googlepages.com/thisislandearth</font></p><p><font size="1" color="#000080">http://web.me.com/meridianijournal</font></p> </div>
 
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tdmikey

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Couldnt they add a 5 lb electrical Leaf blower, encased in a dust free box, to each side with a rotating nozzle to blow the sand off on any future missions. Wouldnt cost much, take up too much space and only rely on electricity that the solar panels are providing? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> "But you cant stop nothing, if you got no control, of the thoughts in your mind, that you kept and you know.  You dont know nothing, that you didnt need to know, the wisdom's in the trees, not the glass window."  "Breakdown" by Jack Johnson </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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Welcome to Space.com.<br /><br />Do you have any idea of what the cost would be to launch an extra 5 pounds to Mars?<br /><br />That's the whole reason something like that wasn't done.<br /><br />Every ounce for a leaf blower reduces the scientific instruments that can be carried, unless you are ready to spend an few extra million dollars.<br /><br />The rovers were designed to last 90 days; in that time that would have been a waste of weight. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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billslugg

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Well, if we can't use a leaf blower - why don't we just go to daylight savings time? Duh! <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p> </p> </div>
 
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tdmikey

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My reply was for future missions. Now that we have learned that rovers can last for quite awhile.<br /><br />For the comment on every ounce, whats the point in have the scientific instruments if they are not going to work because of power regeneration? Wouldn't more scientific work be done if you can get 90-100% of it back. <br /><br />Yes a few extra million dollars may seem like a lot to me and maybe you but for the benefit of the mission wouldn't it be "wise" to spend the extra bit. Every ounce of worthless weight can be removed off the leaf blowers to where it is just a motor, hose, and rotating nozzle. So its a double edged sword thats leaning towards scientific achievement.<br /><br />I agree the initial mission wasnt designed to go past 90 days and the weight would have been wasted on that mission.<br /><br />Thanks for the welcome.<br /><br />Mike <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> "But you cant stop nothing, if you got no control, of the thoughts in your mind, that you kept and you know.  You dont know nothing, that you didnt need to know, the wisdom's in the trees, not the glass window."  "Breakdown" by Jack Johnson </div>
 
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robnissen

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I agree with you. I think it makes more sense to spend $ 185 Million on a mission that lasts 5 to 10 years, than to spend $ 180 Million on a mission that lasts 90 days. Understand, I am not criticizing NASA, they had no way of knowing that rovers could survive that long in the harsh martian environment. But now that they do know that, I think future missions should include the ability to clean dust off of solar arrays.
 
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billslugg

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tdmikey<br />Welcome sir or madam!<br />Yes, I agree, it would be neat to be able to clean the dust off. I read somewhere that they had run the numbers on various dust cleaning systems and nothing was worthwhile. The design basis was 90 days. If that is the design basis, then you cannot spend a nickel of the taxpayer's money to extend it past that. <br /><br />As for cheap dust removal, I always liked the thought of a high voltage generator that would charge the lander up to a few hundred thousand volts for a few seconds and charge all the dust and then everything would repel and the dust would jump off. With an anemometer, you could time it just as a breeze came by. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p> </p> </div>
 
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brellis

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<font color="yellow">As for cheap dust removal, I always liked the thought of a high voltage generator that would charge the lander up to a few hundred thousand volts for a few seconds and charge all the dust and then everything would repel and the dust would jump off. With an anemometer, you could time it just as a breeze came by.</font><br /><br />That's a good notion <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /><br />I've been pestering the good folks at some other sites for info on whether they would consider driving a MER rover up on a rock or incline purposefully in order to dislodge some dust. The answer, unfortunately, is a resounding "No".<br /><br />At the 2006 JPL Open House, I laid down with a bunch of kids and they drove a MER replica over my torso (it tickled!). It sure seems like they could spill some dust based on my <i>in situ</i> observations <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /><br /><br />Spirit did get a bit of help dislodging dust in its recent drive toward its "Winter Haven".<br /><br />Bill, I like your threatening Sig Line <img src="/images/icons/cool.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font size="2" color="#ff0000"><em><strong>I'm a recovering optimist - things could be better.</strong></em></font> </p> </div>
 
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3488

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Anthmartian has made this very interesting post & it makes for interesting & <br />disturbing reading & viewing. I really fear for Spirit this coming Martian Winter.<br /><br />The dust permeates everywhere & everything. <img src="/images/icons/frown.gif" /><br /><br />Andrew Brown. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080">"I suddenly noticed an anomaly to the left of Io, just off the rim of that world. It was extremely large with respect to the overall size of Io and crescent shaped. It seemed unbelievable that something that big had not been visible before".</font> <em><strong><font color="#000000">Linda Morabito </font></strong><font color="#800000">on discovering that the Jupiter moon Io was volcanically active. Friday 9th March 1979.</font></em></p><p><font size="1" color="#000080">http://www.launchphotography.com/</font><br /><br /><font size="1" color="#000080">http://anthmartian.googlepages.com/thisislandearth</font></p><p><font size="1" color="#000080">http://web.me.com/meridianijournal</font></p> </div>
 
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