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Print 22 comment(s) - last by masher2.. on Mar 21 at 9:51 AM

One of the front wheels on the Mars rover Spirit has stopped working

The Mars rover Spirit project has been going very well for NASA, but one of Spirit's front wheels has stopped working.  Researchers believe that the motor that rotates the wheel is no longer working.  The motors that rotate the wheels have worked much longer than the initial mission expected, which may be a reason one of the wheels has failed.  The same wheel had problems before, when it started drawing too much current on the Red Planet.  Engineers would temporarily disable the wheel and occasionally run the rover backwards to counter the problem.

Spirit is again dragging the wheel as it tries to reach a position where it can get as much sunlight as possible during winter, but although the point of minimum sunshine is more than 100 days away, there is already only enough to power about one hour of driving on flat ground per day, JPL said.

The Spirit landed on Mars in January of 2004, and has done a great job gathering information for NASA.


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:-(
By ksherman on 3/19/2006 3:46:59 PM , Rating: 4
sounds like it is slowly dying... better take Old Yeller out back and end its suffering ;-)

jk

In all seriousness though, I have been continualy impressed with this little rover considering that it has been functional FAR longer than intended... Kudos to NASA! Lord knows they needed SOME kind of victory...




RE: :-(
By Scrogneugneu on 3/19/2006 4:08:45 PM , Rating: 2
I just wonder...

Is it that normal that the NASA, with all their brains, money and such, claimed a 3 months mission... but it turned out to last 2 years? I mean, yes, it's obviously good news, but... how could they miss it by that far?


RE: :-(
By Bonesdad on 3/19/2006 4:38:34 PM , Rating: 2
ever been to Mars??? Neither have they...


RE: :-(
By timmiser on 3/19/2006 5:22:11 PM , Rating: 3
Well, actually they have...quite a few times. This isn't even their first rover!

The big reason why it lasted longer than expected was because the wind on mars was unexpectly effective and cleaning off the solar panel keeping it relatively clean.

Power is everything and when the solar panel was being cleaned by the natural forces, they really didn't know how long it would last since it was figured the power would go well before the vehicle would stop funtioning mechanically.


RE: :-(
By osalcido on 3/20/2006 12:08:39 AM , Rating: 2
why couldnt NASA attach a windshield wiper or something?


RE: :-(
By timmiser on 3/20/2006 4:30:52 PM , Rating: 2
That actually is something they may implement in the future or some way to self clean the panels.


RE: :-(
By tvarad on 3/19/2006 9:10:31 PM , Rating: 2
JPL runs the Mars Rover show for NASA so if someone needs to be praised, it is the former.


RE: :-(
By Plasmoid on 3/20/2006 6:24:03 AM , Rating: 2
Its a standard NASA rouse.

If you go to the NASA coffers looking for money to run a 3 year mission, needing $20 million a year you get refused.

If you herald it as a 3 month mission costing $5 million to run from the ground you get the go ahead, and then when it keeps running and proves to be usefull and gets public attention it suddenly gets extended funding.

The classis example are the 2 Voyager probes, which continue to be monitored and the project keeps getting funding as they have proving sucessfull.


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