Dust Storm Cuts Energy Supply Of NASA Mars Rover Spirit | Aero-News Network
Aero-News Network
RSS icon RSS feed
podcast icon MP3 podcast
Subscribe Aero-News e-mail Newsletter Subscribe

** Airborne 07.25.14--CLICK HERE! ** HD iPad-Friendly Version--Airborne 07.25.14 **
** Airborne 07.23.14--CLICK HERE! ** HD iPad-Friendly Version--Airborne 07.23.14 **
** Airborne 07.21.14--CLICK HERE! ** HD iPad-Friendly Version--Airborne 07.21.14 **

Thu, Nov 13, 2008

Dust Storm Cuts Energy Supply Of NASA Mars Rover Spirit

Rover 'Vulnerable' From Low Power State

After nearly five years of yeoman service, one of NASA's Mars rovers may be nearing its end. A dust storm on Mars has cut into the amount of sunlight reaching the solar array on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, leaving the rover in a vulnerable state.

Spirit's solar array produced only 89 watt hours of energy during the rover's 1,725th Martian day, which ended on November 9. This is the lowest output by either Spirit or its twin, Opportunity, in their nearly five years on Mars, and much less energy than Spirit needs each day. The charge level of Spirit's batteries is dropping so low, it risks triggering an automated response of the rover trying to protect itself.

"The best chance for survival for Spirit is for us to maintain sequence control of the rover, as opposed to it going into automated fault protection," said John Callas of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA project manager for Spirit and Opportunity.

Mission controllers are commanding Spirit to turn off some heaters, including one that protects a science instrument, the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and take other measures to reduce energy consumption. The commands will tell Spirit not to try communicating again until Thursday. While pursuing that strategy the team also plans to listen to Spirit frequently during the next few days to detect signals the rover might send if it does go into a low-energy fault protection mode.

Mars weather forecasts suggest the dust storm may be clearing now or in the next few days. However, the dust falling from the sky onto Spirit's solar array panels also could leave a lingering reduction in the amount of electricity the rover can produce.

Another dust storm -- this one near the Northern pole of Mars -- is to blame for the loss of signal from NASA's Mars Phoenix Lander, as well. As ANN reported, NASA lost contact with the five-month-old lander November 2.

Phoenix wasn't expected to survive the Martian winter, though NASA lost the signal from the lander sooner than anticipated.

FMI: www.nasa.gov/mars

Advertisement

More News

AOPA Exits EFB Market

Apps Will Transition To Seattle Avionics AOPA is exiting the electronic flight bag (EFB) market, and the association’s existing products, the FlyQ EFB iPad application and re>[...]

Airborne 07.25.14: Global Flight Tragedy, Blue Angel Update, GA's Next Big Thing

Also: Eve Of Oshkosh, WomenVenture, Garmin Flight Stream, AEA Pilot's Guide The father-son duo of Babar Suleman and 17-year-old Haris Suleman of Plainfield Indiana had planned thei>[...]

Judge Dismisses Bizarre Patent Lawsuit Against AOPA

Ruled That SD Holdings LLC Did Not Have Personal Jurisdiction To Bring The Suit A U.S. District Court judge in Oregon has dismissed a patent infringement lawsuit against the Aircra>[...]

Dynon Avionics Announces SkyView Upgrades Just Ahead Of AirVenture

New Com Radio, Video Input, And Version 11 Software On Display At The Show Dynon Avionics has rolled out an 8.33 kHz COM radio, video input, and version 11 software for its SkyView>[...]

Airborne 07.25.14: Global Flight Tragedy, Blue Angel Update, GA's Next Big Thing

Also: Eve Of Oshkosh, WomenVenture, Garmin Flight Stream, AEA Pilot's Guide The father-son duo of Babar Suleman and 17-year-old Haris Suleman of Plainfield Indiana had planned thei>[...]

blog comments powered by Disqus



Advertisement

Advertisement

Podcasts

Advertisement

© 2007 - 2014 Web Development & Design by Pauli Systems, LC