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Free at last, free at last, thank Mars almighty, Opportunity is free at last
June 4, 2005 11:11 PM   Subscribe

Free at last, free at last, thank Mars almighty Opportunity is free at last. After a several week long struggle, the Mars Opportunity Rover is free from the sand trap many across the world had predicted would bring it to an end.
posted by mk1gti (22 comments total)

 
This is just the first step on the way to the colonization of Mars, then Io, then we meet the aliens with the bones on their heads and kill them by accident even though they have our souls, then I think the Romanesque aliens sell us some weapons, and then we build a big-ass space station and eventually we end up with John Sheridan. So that's cool (And I always cry when they blow up the station in the end.)

good news, mk1gti.
posted by Cyrano at 11:27 PM on June 4, 2005


Since the rover began making its way out of the sand trap last month, it has driven enough to have moved 177.2 meters (581 feet) if there were no slippage, and has made actual forward progress of 93 centimeters (3 feet).
posted by anastasiav at 11:46 PM on June 4, 2005


Still, much faster than out of a quagmire.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:48 PM on June 4, 2005


Huzzah!! Go JPL!
posted by loquacious at 12:03 AM on June 5, 2005


I have to say, Spirit and Opportunity are some of the coolest and most awesome robot dudes of all time. They just kick it on another planet, getting in and out of trouble, and we hear about it half an hour later. And they're way past their expiration dates.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:07 AM on June 5, 2005


Cyrano: This is just the first step on the way to the colonization of Mars, then Io, then we meet the aliens with the bones on their heads...

hopefully, when we evolve into energy-based beings like the vorlons, the soul hunters will not mistake our evolution for death and come over to trap our souls for a million years. ;)
posted by ginbiafra at 3:28 AM on June 5, 2005


I agree with BlackLeotardFront (despite his/her username) - can anyone name a more successful robot than these two?!?
posted by fairmettle at 4:20 AM on June 5, 2005


Cyrano,

I think you're onto something. I'd like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Though, I've started worrying that Opportunity didn't get stuck in a sand trap but rather got a wheel caught on a strange shadowy black outcropping. For some reason, oddly prescient individuals at NASA decided to hide this information from us.

Perhaps in the future, they'll belatedly realize the robot's struggle to get free disturbed the long sleeping lurker beneath, which activated the distress signal and thus everyone is eventually in a world of hurt.

Oh well. At least NASA and the gov't can mark this spot so that they can dig it up later.
posted by pandaharma at 4:34 AM on June 5, 2005


Finally! But at least the sand trap made for amusing animated .gifs. (Plus, JPL's got tiny movies of Spirit's robotic arm, and a big Gusev Crater dust devil.)
posted by steef at 5:29 AM on June 5, 2005


Wow. I just watched a dust devil on Mars.

Spirit and Opportunity are some of the coolest and most awesome robot dudes of all time.

Amen to that.
posted by mediareport at 6:24 AM on June 5, 2005


Mars Pathfinder was pretty cool while it lasted, but it never ventured very far from it's lander. There was a great book written about it called Sojourner: An Insider's View of the Mars Pathfinder Mission".
posted by mk1gti at 9:12 AM on June 5, 2005


The work that went in to getting the thing out was pretty cool.
posted by OmieWise at 12:34 PM on June 5, 2005


Yeah, I agree re the cool work on getting it out, I've always been amazed at the resourcefullness of the people at JPL when it comes to solving seemingly unsolvable problems.
posted by mk1gti at 1:31 PM on June 5, 2005


Seemingly unsolvable problems, on another planet, mind you.

This whole thing has rocked, and rocked hard for a long time.

My hat is off to those wonderful wizards at JPL.
posted by Freen at 6:33 PM on June 5, 2005


I've monitored this for a couple of weeks and the whole mission has been awesome but where can it go now? How many other invisble sandtraps are there on that featureless plain?
posted by marvin at 9:09 PM on June 5, 2005


yay!!!
posted by muppetboy at 9:12 PM on June 5, 2005


For better or worse, The NASA spin is that they haven't been "stuck" so much as deliberately working a very slow extraction process, and that the aforementioned wheel-spinning at a 200:1 progress ratio was simply the result of a progress method tested on Earth in similar, sandy soil.

As for Pathfinder, it's worth remembering that it was a technology demonstration mission in which science objectives were practically secondary. Opportunity and Spirit are ten times the size of the Sojourner rover.

Meanwhile, the Phoenix lander (with no rover component) has been green-lighted for the 2007 Mars approach window. The 2005 window is already filled by the near launch-ready Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which includes the highest-resolution camera ever sent to another planet, and a low-orbit mission profile that will combine to give the MRO photography with 1m resolution (compared with 40m for Mars Global Surveyor, and 100m, non-visible, for Odyssey).

At last, we'll be able to see the moles on the Face of Mars!

marvin: > "If Opportunity gets free, its next task will be examining the site to give the rover team a better understanding of how this ripple differs from dozens Opportunity easily crossed," said Jim Erickson. He is project manager for the Mars Exploration Rover Project at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Beyond that, they're probably going to look for more (geologically recent?) microcraters like the ones Opportunity found nearby.
posted by dhartung at 9:52 PM on June 5, 2005


I can't believe people fall for this.
posted by jon_kill at 4:47 AM on June 6, 2005


Yeah. "Mars." Right.
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:23 AM on June 6, 2005


jon_kil
Fall for what? Perhaps you could clarify your statement so the rest of us know what you're talking about.
posted by mk1gti at 7:25 AM on June 6, 2005


there is no Mars and there never was. fools.
posted by hackly_fracture at 2:34 PM on June 6, 2005


Well, at least I can dream about a magical place called Mars with mountains that reach into space, canyons as long as the U.S., craters deep enough to swallow whole continents, and two little rovers zipping along like mechanical turtles. At least I can dream . . .
posted by mk1gti at 8:49 PM on June 6, 2005


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