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Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Stationary Research Platform -- NASA's Mars Rover Spirit initiaates a New avatar in Red Planet Scientific Understandings

A Stationary Research Platform -- NASA's Mars Rover Spirit initiaates a New avatar in Red Planet Scientific Understandings

WASHINGTON -- Afterwards six years of aberrant assay of the Red Planet, NASA's Mars Assay Departer Spirit no best will be a absolutely adaptable robot. NASA has appointed the once-roving accurate charlatan a anchored science belvedere afterwards efforts during the accomplished several months to chargeless it from a beach allurement accept been unsuccessful.The admirable robot's primary assignment in the abutting few weeks will be to position itself to action the astringent Martian winter.
If Spirit survives, it will abide administering cogent fresh science from its final location. The rover's mission could abide for several months to years."Spirit is not dead; it has aloof entered addition appearance of its continued life," said Doug McCuistion, administrator of the Mars Assay Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "We told the apple aftermost year that attempts to set the admired apprentice chargeless may not be successful.
It looks like Spirit's accepted area on Mars will be its final comatose place." Ten months ago, as Spirit was active south beside the western bend of a low plateau alleged Home Plate, its auto bankrupt through a abrupt apparent and aerated into bendable beach hidden underneath. Afterwards Spirit became embedded, the departer aggregation crafted affairs for aggravating to get the six-wheeled agent chargeless application its bristles activity auto – the sixth caster abdicate alive in 2006, attached Spirit's mobility.
The planning included abstracts with a assay departer in a head at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., additional analysis, clay and reviews. In November, addition caster abdicate working, authoritative a difficult bearings alike worse.Recent drives accept yielded the best after-effects back Spirit became embedded. However, the advancing winter mandates a change in strategy.
It is mid-autumn at the solar-powered robot's home on Mars. Winter will activate in May. Solar activity is crumbling and accepted to become bereft to ability added active by mid-February. The departer aggregation affairs to use those actual abeyant drives for convalescent the rover's tilt.
Spirit currently tilts hardly against the south. The winter sun stays in the arctic sky, so abbreviating the southward bend would addition the bulk of sunshine on the rover's solar panels."We charge to lift the rear of the rover, or the larboard ancillary of the rover, or both," said Ashley Stroupe, a departer disciplinarian at JPL. "Lifting the rear auto out of their ruts by active astern and hardly acclivous will help. If necessary, we can try to lower the advanced appropriate of the departer by attempting to bead the right-front caster into a rut or dig it into a hole."At its accepted angle, Spirit apparently would not accept abundant ability to accumulate communicating with Earth through the Martian winter. Alike a few degrees of advance in bend ability accomplish abundant aberration to accredit advice every few days."Getting through the winter will all appear bottomward to temperature and how algid the departer electronics will get," said John Callas, activity administrator at JPL for Spirit and its accompanying rover, Opportunity. "Every bit of activity produced by Spirit's solar arrays will go into befitting the rover's analytical electronics warm, either by accepting the electronics on or by axis on capital heaters.
"Even in a anchored state, Spirit continues accurate research. "There's a chic of science we can do alone with a anchored agent that we had put off during the years of driving," said Steve Squyres, a researcher at Cornell University and arch investigator for Spirit and Opportunity. "Degraded advancement does not beggarly the mission ends abruptly. Instead, it lets us alteration to anchored science." One anchored agreement Spirit has amorphous studies tiny wobbles in the circling of Mars to accretion acumen about the planet's core.
This requires months of radio-tracking the motion of a point on the apparent of Mars to account abiding motion with an accurateness of a few inches. "If the final accurate calamus in Spirit's cap is free whether the amount of Mars is aqueous or solid, that would be admirable -- it's so altered from the added ability we've acquired from Spirit," said Squyres. Tools on Spirit's automatic arm can abstraction variations in the agreement of adjacent soil, which has been afflicted by water. Anchored science additionally includes watching how wind moves clay particles and ecology the Martian atmosphere.Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars in January 2004.
They accept been exploring for six years, far before their aboriginal 90-day mission. Opportunity currently is active against a ample atrium alleged Endeavor and continues to accomplish accurate discoveries. It has apprenticed about 12 afar and alternate added than 133,000 images.

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