Mars: Good and Bad

Image source
Credit: NASA

It's nice to know that while I was preoccupied, Phoenix successfully launched on a trajectory that will drop it on the northern polar regions of Mars. Phoenix is the first spacecraft since the Viking probes to specifically be looking for signs of life on Mars (ignoring, as a point of national pride, the ill-fated Beagle 2). You might like to take a gander at the nice Phoenix wrapup at the Planetary Society Blog.

On a more worrisome note, the latest news item on the Mars Rover website states that NASA are now starting to get worried about how one of the brave little robots may fare if the dust storm that engulfs it continues unabated:

Dust in the atmosphere and dust settling onto Opportunity's solar panels challenges the ability of the solar panels to convert sunlight into enough electricity to supply the rover's needs. The most recent communication from Opportunity, received Monday, July 30, indicates that sunlight over the rover's Meridiani Planum location remains only slightly less obscured than during the dustiest days Opportunity survived in mid-July. With dust now accumulating on the solar panels, the rover is producing barely as much energy as it is using in a very-low-power regimen it has been following since July 18.

Poor little 'bot. Here's hoping she makes it out the other side.

1 comment:

tinker said...

It's times like this, that I'm glad they haven't figured out how to give them emotions yet...