Dust Really IS a Problem for Spirit

The ninja rover, NASA's answer to creeping up on Martian lifeforms...
The ninja rover, NASA's answer to creeping up on Martian lifeforms...

Talk about having a bad dust day. Only last night on Astroengine Live I was discussing the near-death experience Mars Exploration Rover Spirit survived a few days ago. Much to NASA’s (and the science-loving world’s) relief, the Sun-blocking dust storm in Gusev Crater couldn’t beat down this tough wheeled warrior. Even though her solar panels are coated in a thick layer of red dust, she battles on to see another sol. According to NASA, Spirit will remain in a recovery mode until next month at least, giving the batteries some time to recharge…

However, on writing about the suitability of solar power for future Mars colonies on the Universe Today just now, I collected two self portraits of Spirit and compared the two. Although I knew the dust situation on the rover’s solar-powered hat was a problem, I didn’t realise just how acute it has become.

So, have a look at the comparison of the two pictures above, one from 2005 and the other in 2007, and try to imagine what the rover must look like now. Let’s just say Spirit is doing a great impression of a little regolith-coloured ninja…

Quote of the Day
The funniest comment I’ve read today has to go to Mike Jackson, who left this message under Mars Rover Contact Reestablished, Spirit is Alive!:

NASA reports that the Deep Space Network picked up transmissions between Spirit and Opportunity regarding the apparent end of the Phoenix probe at five months. Only a few words were deciphered from the weak data transmissions, but NASA confirmed that “lightweight” and “pu**y” were among them.

Ah, if only rovers could talk…

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5 thoughts on “Dust Really IS a Problem for Spirit”

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