NASA Putting Mars Rover To Sleep To Save Money

Illustration for article titled NASA Putting Mars Rover To Sleep To Save Money

Although it might seem like a headline from The Onion, the story's actually true. NASA's being forced to cut four million dollars from the Mars rover project. In order to meet that requirement, they'll have to put one rover, Spirit, to sleep — a "hibernation" period. The team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) will also have to put the other rover, Opportunity, on a diminished work cycle. But in actuality, they won't be cutting what Opportunity's doing — they'll just be spreading it out over a longer period of time.

"Instead of sending up commands to Opportunity every day to drive or explore a rock, its activities may be limited to every other day, said John Callas, the Mars Exploration Rover project manager at JPL."


Keep in mind that we support the Mars rover mission, but at the same time, isn't this so like bureaucracy? Congress and the Administration cut NASA's budget, but since NASA can't really cut what they're tasked to do, it's really just a shell game of "we'll take our budget cut by spending the same amount of money, just spreading the work out over double the amount of time." Got to love government, eh? [AP]



Considering the Martian rovers were designed for a mission duration of 100 days, and are still working 4 years later, I've got only good things to say in this department. They even got one down into the bottom of a crater, and through much very careful maneuvering, were able to drive it back out. It was a 83.42-point turn, but they got it out. I think they had one high-centered on a rock for a while too, and that was also worked loose. Touchy stuff; it isn't like walking 50 yards and flipping your R/C car back upright.

The rovers have been running at radically reduced power levels for the last year or so to prevent stressing the batteries; pressing "pause" for a few months would be a good thing to give the batts a strong recharge.