Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Energizer Bunny - Move Over!

Energizer Bunny, Move Over!

I wonder if the twin Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, were really manned vehicles. Or rather... bunnied vehicles, as in operated by the Energizer Bunny. According to NASA (via Space.com), these rovers were designed for a lifespan of only three months.
The durable twin rovers on Mars have gotten yet another lease on life, with NASA announcing Tuesday it would fund another 18 months of operations.

Spirit and Opportunity were originally designed for a three-month effort. Engineers knew all along that if nothing unexpected happened, they could last longer. But few expected them to be still roving after more than 14 months.
That was in early April, so make that 15 months now, and still they keep on going, and going, and going... Sound familiar?

Not only that, but they are being re-designated. The twin Mars rovers were originally called, what else, Mars rovers. Check out what they are being called now.
When the Opportunity rover landed on Mars last year, scientists were thrilled that it made a cosmic “hole-in-one” by rolling into a crater.

But now the robot is struggling to drive itself out of a sand trap. Time will tell whether it’s up to par for the task.

Progress is being made on trying to remove Opportunity from a soft-sand dune that the sporty, six-wheeled utility rover has run itself into at its exploration site: Meridiani Planum.
(bold mine)

So, there they are, six-wheeling around Mars, having a great time! Wish we were there! Maybe they can find some mud and REALLY have a good time! I wonder if they would have been recalled by now had they been built by one of our major auto manufacturers?

Many more stories on the rovers here.

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