So, all the talk is that this heater problem on the Opportunity Martian rover will eventually cause problems because the solar panels onboard will become sufficiently dusty that they won't generate enough power to keep up with the drain of this malfunctioning 15W heater.
My question: This rover is golf-cart sized, can rove around, take amazing pictures, has an arm that can drill into rock and analyze what the rock is made of… How difficult would it have been to put a feather duster on this arm to clean off the solar panels? Or maybe a fan blowing the little bit of martian atmosphere over the panels… If the dust is being blown there, can't it just be blown off?
From Space.Com's Astronotes from January 19th:
An Ocean on Mars Puts Food in Your Gullet
If we didn't have a reason to root for NASA's twin rover Mars missions before, we do now. The two robots could win free food for everyone in the United States if they can find evidence of ocean water on the red planet.
Officials with Long John Silver's, a national seafood restaurant chain based in Louisville, Kentucky, have told NASA they will provide free giant shrimp to customers if the space agency's two robotic rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, detect conclusive signs of Martian ocean water.
The Spirit rover is already on Mars and Opportunity is set to land on Jan. 24. Since both robots run on solar power, they would not enjoy any free shrimp.
“We have closely followed NASA's recent exploration of Mars and all of us are rooting you on to find ocean water on the red planet,” wrote Long John Silver's president Steve Davis in a letter to NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe. “The free giant shrimp offer is our way of saying NASA's exploration of Mars and the discovery of ocean water would be 'one small step for man, one giant leap for seafood.'”
In his letter, Davis also told O'Keefe of his interest for Long John Silver's to become the first seafood restaurant on Mars once humans are living there permanently.
Should Spirit or Opportunity actually find evidence of ocean water on Mars before Feb. 29 of this year, Long John Silver's restaurants will provide free giant shrimp at on March 15 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The seafood chain has taken out an insurance policy to cover the cost of free shrimp in the event they have to make good on their offer.
“If there's ocean water on Mars, that would be giant news,” said Mike Baker, chief marketing officer for Long John Silver's. “And giant news calls for giant shrimp!”
Makes me wish someone that actually had good seafood would get behind this. 🙂