Thursday, June 14, 2018

[Q.:] Will This Be The Final, Muted Eulogy -- To Opportunity's Operating For More Than 5,100 Sols -- On Mars?


UPDATED: 06.14.2018 -- I am reposting this with the rather disconcerting news that about a quarter of the red planet is engulfed in a dust storm, at the moment. And it is stalled over Perseverance Basin. That means the NASA Opportunity rover has gone into hibernation -- and if she cannot shake some of the fine curry colored dust from her solar arrays, she may permanently fall silent. That is, she may never ping back. . . again. So now we wait, perhaps another three Earth weeks, to see if she will awaken.

Now you know -- but either way, she has served up interplanetary space science -- far beyond her creators' wildest hopes. For now, though -- hope is what we will all need. Hope that the weather clears, and blows fresh icy winds across her outstretched limbs, whisking away most of the curry powder. [End, updated portion.]

February 18, 2018 -- I must mark this stunningly audacious milestone, if only in brief:

Overnight, NASA/JPL's Opportunity Mars rover logged its 5,000th "Sol", on Mars (each "Sol" on Mars is about two-thirds of an hour longer than an Earth day, due to the distance Mars is from the sun -- and the differing speeds of rotation -- compared to Earth's rate of rotation, from the moment of one sunrise, to the next sunrise).

It was expected by JPL and NASA to survive 90 Martian "days" -- or sols. That would have been a success -- but it is well past fifty-five times that in service duration record, now. Opportunity has driven over 28 miles away from its landing site -- and is about one-third of the way down "Perseverance Valley," a shallow channel incised from a crater's rim. The rover has returned about 225,000 images, all promptly made public online.

That's a well-engineered rig.

And I am beaming, ear to ear, about it.

Now, with a clip of some poetry by Mr. Atkinson (in the image). . . here's to the future, what Sweet Will called. . . the "undiscovered country". . . . it too, calls forever to me. Sweetly haunts me, in fact. Grin.

नमस्ते

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