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Go, Opportunity, Go!

Come on Rover!

Long time FCW Insider readers will know that I am a major fan of the Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, ever since a recent CIO Summit I got to hear a wonderful presentation by Steven Squyres, a professor at Cornell University and the person who was the program manager for the launch of these two everlasting robots. In fact, Squyres was so good, that I've become something of a Rover groupie -- tracking where they are, what they're doing. (Rover stalker, maybe?)

Of course, these remarkable machines were supposed to last just 90 days and have now on 1,263 as of today.

Well, Opportunity is fighting for his/her/its life.

The WP has the most detailed story.

The hardy Mars rover Opportunity is struggling to stay alive amid a severe and long-lasting Martian dust storm -- posing the greatest threat so far to the unexpectedly long-lived vehicle.

The series of dust storms has blocked 99 percent of the direct sunlight that the rover needs to generate power, and on Wednesday, the panels were generating only 148 watt hours -- barely enough to keep the vehicle functioning. Without power to warm its electronic instruments and computers, the rover would grind to a halt for good...

The Martian dust, which NASA scientists say is more like smoke than sand, has been blowing for more than a month. It is common for winds to kick up the dust in the Martian summer, but officials said that these storms are the worst they have witnessed and could continue for days or even weeks.

Squyers told us last year that this happened once before, and another storm came through and cleared the solar panels off again.

UPDATE: On NASA's Mars Rover Web site, this is the most recent update on Opportunity. They also have photos from Mars and you can see where the little 'bot is.

Opportunity, we're thinking about you!

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Jul 23, 2007 at 12:16 PM


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