Happy Birthday Oppy
January 24, 2012 11:50 AM   Subscribe

Having now traversed 34 kilometres (21 miles) across the surface of Mars and exceeding it's 90-day mission to explore Mars by 2,830 days, NASA's Opportunity rover turned 8 years old today. So what's the feisty martian robot been up to lately? It's now exploring the rim of the 14-mile-wide Endeavor crater, discovering "slam-dunk" evidence that water once flowed through underground fractures, and is being strategically positioned at a 15-degree angle for a long winter suntan.
posted by joinks (29 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Man I love that little rover. It and its sibling changed my views on manned vs robotic space exploration forever.
posted by freebird at 11:54 AM on January 24, 2012


The video link has that rarest of things, a good youtube comment. After a poster laments that Opportunity will never meet up with Spirit, someone else replies thus:

"No chance of them ever meeting up"

One day´╗┐ they will be side by side in a museum on Mars!


That makes my heart swell unaccountably.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:57 AM on January 24, 2012 [18 favorites]


NASA needs more projects like this and less of the "we're not sure what happened to the probe and the millions of dollars so-far spent..." sort.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:03 PM on January 24, 2012


Next it will be exploring the rim of Uranus.





Sorry...had to be done. It's required by law.
posted by spicynuts at 12:10 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've (unfortunately) somewhat accepted the fact that I may not see humans on Mars in my lifetime so I'm hoping at least that in my lifetime something, be it a robot or a human, takes a picture of one of these rovers, wherever they end up.

I'm also keeping my fingers crossed that the Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity, arrives safely on the red planet in a few months.
posted by bondcliff at 12:13 PM on January 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Princess of Mars.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:14 PM on January 24, 2012


I'm gonna be "that guy" and post a relevant XKCD.
posted by codswallop at 12:15 PM on January 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Good little robot.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:24 PM on January 24, 2012


Bondcliff...

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16055585/ns/technology_and_science-space/t/mars-orbiter-photographs-four-probes/
posted by ewan at 12:25 PM on January 24, 2012


I'm gonna be "that guy" and post a relevant XKCD.

I was already that guy, (although since I did not underline it, possibly I am not actually that guy).
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:32 PM on January 24, 2012


Yeah, that's something, ewan, and it's a step in the right direction, but I'm hoping for a close-up. A Conrad-and-Bean-approaching-Surveyor sort of close-up.

This is my favorite robot-craft-from-another-robot-craft photo.
posted by bondcliff at 12:38 PM on January 24, 2012


I should have added this to my post somehow, but the video depicting Curiosity's upcoming landing in August is just ridiculous. So many moving parts and sequences it makes me wonder if they'll be able to pull it off. But Spirit and Opportunity definitely give me hope...
posted by joinks at 12:58 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna be "that guy" and post a relevant XKCD.

A lot of people prefer this version.

Other MER stuff:
posted by zamboni at 1:03 PM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think it's really great that we use a lot of our most talented engineers and scientists to learn about the composition of dust and ancient water flows on Mars-- or for the analysis of high velocity collisions of fundamental particles on our home planet. I really don't think I could come up with a better pursuit.. .. .. .. .. ..Nope.

Don't get me wrong. I'm just jaded. I love pictures from SPACE! And who doesn't love QUANTUM PHYSICS?! Everyone is so intently distracted by this minutiae while our social troubles boil and bubble. I mean look at all the technological advancement!

I can't wait for Curiosity to arrive!
posted by quanta and qualia at 1:12 PM on January 24, 2012


Heaping praise on robots is well intentioned but misplaced. Missions like this work, most of the time, because a huge number of people bust ass day after day. Those guys deserve praise and glory, not the non-sentient machine they built and operate.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 1:20 PM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


JPL is like a religion to me.
posted by xtian at 1:57 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really don't think I could come up with a better pursuit

Than the pursuit of knowledge for the benefit of all mankind? No, I don't think they could.
posted by Justinian at 2:05 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


NASA needs more projects like this and less of the "we're not sure what happened to the probe and the millions of dollars so-far spent..." sort.

NASA doesn't actually have a whole lot of those (and definitely not so much lately). Granted, doing stuff in space is HARD. I spent years working with the very people who spend their entire careers doing everything they can to make sure that when they send something to space, it doesn't end up a multi-hundred-million-dollar paperweight.

The track record of NASA (and, more specifically, JPL's) unmanned probes has been astonishingly good. As a matter of fact, the only notable failure that I can think of offhand in the last several years was OCO, which failed during the launch.

NASA doesn't have a lot of "we're not sure what happened to the probe" problems, it has a ridiculous, sad, pathetic, ABOMINABLE (mainly due to being handcuffed by Congress) PR track record. Americans, due to the horrible level of PR that NASA is capable of undertaking, think that NASA is many times more expensive and many times less successful than it actually is. It's depressing to think about when there are people around who think that NASA has 20% of the national budget, which is 20 to 40 times its real 0.5 to 1% budget.
The American public perceives the NASA budget as commanding a much larger share of the federal budget than it in fact does. A 1997 poll reported that Americans had an average estimate of 20% for NASA's share of the federal budget, far higher than the actual 0.5% to under 1% that has been maintained throughout the late '90s and first decade of the 2000s.(reference, PDF link)
posted by chimaera at 2:54 PM on January 24, 2012


We could have gone to Mars, went to Iraq instead.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 3:20 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really don't think I could come up with a better pursuit.. .. .. .. .. ..Nope.


That's a pretty stupid false dichotomy that displays a profound ignorance. You're obviously unaware of even a skerrick of the technology that NASA and space exploration in general has driven.

The Space Technology Hall of Fame inductee list should correct this oversight.
posted by smoke at 4:31 PM on January 24, 2012


Ah nostalgia....as late as 1995 I was still shaking my fist in the air and grumbling "C'mon science, where's my anti-shock trousers!"
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:51 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can we drop one of these things on Titan? Pleeeeeeeeease? Or, or Ceres? Or Europa? Hell, drop me one on Venus and I'd be happy. *sigh*
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 6:08 PM on January 24, 2012


not the non-sentient machine they built and operate.

If people can pet croutons, then I can praise a robot.
posted by homunculus at 6:43 PM on January 24, 2012


Heaping praise on robots is well intentioned but misplaced, as they are robots and cannot experience emotions or respond using appropriate social gestures.
posted by dhartung at 1:10 AM on January 25, 2012


Much like some Metafilter comments.
posted by Justinian at 8:50 AM on January 25, 2012


Much like some Metafilter commenters.
posted by Justinian at 8:50 AM on January 25, 2012


huh. Oops?
posted by Justinian at 8:51 AM on January 25, 2012


small derail for all you space cases out there: the shuttle Discovery is scheduled to be swapped with the shuttle Enterprise at the Stephen F. Udvar Hazy Air & Space Museum (right next to Dulles Airport a couple miles outside of DC) around April 17-April 19, weather permitting. They'll fly the Discovery into Dulles on the back of that converted 747, unload it, then load up the Enterprise and send it to a museum in NYC. Thank you for letting me derail!
posted by easily confused at 7:40 AM on January 26, 2012


Programming Error Doomed Russian Mars Probe
posted by homunculus at 1:26 PM on February 7, 2012


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