Wednesday, February 18, 2009

They just keep going…

image Remember Spirit and Opportunity, those plucky little Mars rovers that were designed for a ninety-day mission? Five years later, still going strong.

A small but important uptick in electrical output from the solar panels on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit this month indicates a beneficial Martian wind has blown away some of the dust that has accumulated on the panels.
The cleaning boosts Spirit's daily energy supply by about 30 watt-hours, to about 240 watt-hours from 210 watt-hours. The rover uses about 180 watt-hours per day for basic survival and communications, so this increase roughly doubles the amount of discretionary power for activities such as driving and using instruments. Thirty watt-hours is the amount of energy used to light a 30-watt bulb for one hour.

Five years later, they’re still out there gathering good scientific data and taking amazing pictures. When folks decry the money we spend at NASA, it makes me insane.

 

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