Some Old Timers and Our Man On Mars

Curiosity on Mars

Curiosity on Mars

by Douglas Black, Enerspec January 21, 2012

Curiosity is doing splendidly so far on the edge of Gale Crater.  Having witnessed  150 Martian dawns, the lonely traveler has reported back several interesting photo’s that lead scientists to more questions than answers, and next week begins some actual on-site analysis of soil samples.

The site NASA engineers have chosen for these samples shows striking visual evidence of vast amounts of flowing liquid, presumably water, at some point in the recent past. Curiousity will analyze soil at this site for minerals, microbes, and even evidence of bacteria deposited in Mars’ recent geological history.

Not to be ignored, our other two seasoned red planet roving correspondents, Spirit and Opportunity, marked the 9 year anniversary of their touchdown.  Scheduled for a tour of duty lasting 90 days, Opportunity has now experienced its 3,300th Martian sunset, well beyond its warranty expired.

Both pint-sized cruisers kept on working well after their expected tours of duty, originally expected to end at 90 days.  Spirit finally stopped communicating with Earth in March 2010 and was declared dead a year later. Opportunity is still going strong, exploring clay deposits on the rim of Mars’ Endeavour Crater.

Opportunity Captured this Rock on August 13, 2011

Opportunity Captured this Rock on August 13, 2011

Spirit self portrait

Spirit self portrait

Together, the two robots have covered 26.82 miles (43.16 kilometers) to date, with Opportunity racking up the lion’s share (22.02 miles, or 35.44 km). While Opportunity is showing some signs of its advanced age, such as an arthritic arm, the rover remains in good health and continues to return interesting data to its handlers back at Jet Propulsion Laboratories in California.

In fact, Opportunity’s current orders could be interpreted to proceed and report back as deemed appropriate, essentially giving our pioneer of the Red Planet a green light for semi-autonomy.

Latest Mars Photos From Rovers Spirit & Opportunity

Together, the two robots have covered 26.82 miles (43.16 kilometers) to date, with Opportunity racking up the lion’s share (22.02 miles, or 35.44 km). While Opportunity is showing some signs of its advanced age, such as an arthritic arm, the rover remains in good health and continues to return interesting data to its handlers back at Jet Propulsion Laboratories in California.

In fact, Opportunity’s current orders could be interpreted to proceed and report back as deemed appropriate, essentially giving our pioneer of the Red Planet a green light for semi-autonomy.

In this first response to a loosening of the leash, Opportunity makes us proud indeed.

Perhaps the circuitry, switches, and motherboards just clicked a random image on a pre-programmed time.  Or maybe the rovers are systematically and steadfastly saving experience upon experience in their memories, one set of “this then that” upon another, stepping ever so close to that Singularity predicted by Futurists like Ray Kurzweil and David Wood.

Maybe Opportunity recognized the aesthetic pattern of celestial objects in retrograde with the horizon which his human handlers seemed to value, though not really understanding why.

But on a desolate ridge near Endeavor Crater on the fourth planet from the sun,  Opportunity caught a great shot of a Martian sunset and sent it back home.

sunsetmars by Spirit

Sunset by Opportunity

The old guy is seems to be enjoying semi-retirement.

(Well, it sounds like it could have happened that way, anyhow!)

Previous submittal from Our Man On Mars

More Robotic Sojourners

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Douglas Black

Douglas Black

Douglas Black is a high performance car enthusiast, always with an ear to the pavement for what’s fast and new.  He began blogging enerficiency On The Road in 2001, and now continues reporting from Auto Shows and Swap Meets at his Hot Flying Rats! blog – flyingratz.wordpress.com

Having more than 30 years experience in the green and sustainable building field, Mr. Black has dedicated the past 20 years to energy efficiency in the built environment.

He also uses his MagicEightBall to predict sporting outcomes and shares on his blog M8B4Cast.wix.com/sportsblog.

Photography is a lifelong passion for Douglas, and while not capturing enthusiastic smiles at Wrigley Field and other sports venues around Chicago, he captures moments in the built environment.

And in his spare time, he works on getting that Captains License, expecting to retire on the water one day, taking photos.

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2 thoughts on “Some Old Timers and Our Man On Mars

  1. Pingback: The Birthday Gift of Curiousity | enerficiency

  2. Pingback: Our Man On Mars Update – News of First Contact Not True | enerficiency

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