Dave's other cars keep going


Mars Rover poised to make run at Victoria Crater…

Yes They Keep Going and Going and Going…

A “short spurt” of ~360ft. Dave, how long will that take? If I remember correctly, they don’t move very fast. This is incredible.

To get a sense of what Victoria Crater is like, take a look at this image:


In this image, north is to the left. The red line traces out the traverse path of the rover from landing (January 24, 2004) through Sol 930 (September 5, 2006). The image covers nearly six kilometers side-to-side. Victoria Crater is the large crater on the right side of the image.

Opportunity landed in Eagle Crater, a small 10-meter diameter crater at the left end of the red line in the image. At this scale, Eagle Crater isn’t really even visible. Six months after landing, the rover made it’s way to Endurance Crater. This is the crater visible in the center of the left side of the image, at the “corner” of the red line. Opportunity spent six months exploring Endurance, collecting some of the most detailed images ever received from Mars. After exiting from Endurance, Opportunity has spent the last year driving approximately five kilometers toward Victoria Crater, stopping to explore many locations along the way. At this time, Opportunity is about 100 meters away from the rim of Victoria Crater. As you can see, this is the most significant feature in the region around the landing site. At nearly 750 meters across and 70 meters deep, Victoria is a very big hole! The top 75 meters of the crater rim may be nearly vertical rock cliffs. The view from the top of the crater rim promises to provide some of the most spectacular images ever seen from the surface of Mars.

Opportunity is capable of covering the remaining distance to the crater rim in one Sol driving cycle (a Sol is a Martian day, about 24 hours and 40 minutes). However, it will be about another week to ten days before we actually get to the crater rim. We will be slowly approaching the crater. Along the way we will be continuing our study of the annulus material around the crater, to establish a baseline of the minerology and compositional chemisty of the crater exterior. Once that is complete we will make the final approach to the crater rim and take the first look inside. Those images will be pretty amazing. They will be posted on the web almost as quickly as we receive them. So keep watching here - this should be good!

Not too bad for a little rover that was only supposed to last 90 days and drive 600 meters. :slight_smile:


That’s so cool!

I just hope it doesn’t fall in. :yikes:

Meh, Dave would just lure it out with KK’s. Didn’t I hear that they’re programmed somewhere to sniff and consume Krispy Kremes?

I just hope it doesn’t fall in
Last weekend the Opportunity rover completed a 100-meter drive to bring it into final range of the rim of Victoria Crater. Now that the remaining distance to the rim is less than 100 meters, we asked the team for one consideration: “please don’t do that any more!” :slight_smile:


Thanks, Dave.

As I stare at this image, a flood of deep-stashed memories comes back to the surface: as a wide-eyed pre-first-grader in the summer of 1965, watching the Gemini 4 launch on television, and later getting to stay up past bedtime to listen to the man on the news talk about the space-walk; riding home from a soccer game late on a summer night in 1969, staring at the moon through the rear window of my parents’ station wagon and thinking about the Apollo 11 astronauts, up there; stunned disbelief in the winter of 1986 when, coming out of a quantum mechanics lecture, I heard someone say that Challenger had exploded 73 seconds after liftoff.

And for the last three FRC seasons, the continuing saga of rovers that just keep going and going and going. Long after we’ve forgotten that absurd pink bunny, Dave’s other car is still on Mars.

It is a great privilege for all of us in FIRST to hear and read the Mars exploration story told by someone who has a direct role in its planning and execution. It is inspiration, pure and uncut, straight from the source.

What I remember as well is the moon landing and Apollo 11 through the voice and amazed expressions of Walter Cronkite. He was speechless sometimes and other times he would say things like ‘WoW’. It was great.

For those that want a more detailed look at Victoria Crater and the region that will be explored, you can take a look at the linked version of this image (warning - big image: 2639 x 2550 pixels)
The rover is currently just to the south-east of the small crater labeled “Emma Dean” (north is up in this image). In this view you can clearly see some of the more rugged areas around the rim of the crater that may include large areas of exposed bedrock.

This high resolution MOC CPROTO image has a resolution of about 50cm/pixel, and was taken by the Mars Orbiter Camera aboard the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft.


Thanks again, Dave. This is an awesome image!

What is the apparent quasi-tessellation feature at the center of Victoria? It reminds me of a dry lake bed, as if the crater had once been filled with water.

Sand dunes, composed of sand and surface dust that has been blown into the crater and trapped there. Local wind patterns inside the crater are strong enough to move the material around to form the dunes, but are insufficient to blow the material out of the crater. We saw the same structures inside Endurance Crater earlier in the mission (you can see them at the bottom of the crater in this image.


Dave, do you guys at NASA have any idea as to how long the rover will keep going since it was only supposed to go for 90 days to begin with? I admit, I don’t follow much about NASA, just what I hear on the news.

At this point, we don’t even try to guess any more. The device has lasted way beyond the original warranty period. :slight_smile: Realistically, given the mechanical wear rates that we have seen it could continue on for a very, very long time. Conversely, a critical part could fail tomorrow that would mean the end of the mission. The rover is so far beyond the original expected design that we just don’t have any real data upon which to base any lifetime estimates. So we are just taking it one day at a time.


Yay for doing things the old school way and designing/building them to last! I wish my computers lasted as long as your rovers Dave…

How is NASA dealing with having a program that lasted so long beyond estimates? There are budget, personnel and logistical issues to deal with. How do you deal with, what is now, an open ended program?

I have no idea how the budget/planning process works at NASA. Where I work, an up-front investment that lasted 10 times as long as planned and allowed us to continue making a product for which there was continuing demand – well, we’d call that a good problem to have.

My company also. Budgets are profit based. If the product still sells, then it sustains itself.

The “Profit” on this project is tremendous. What they get out of it is priceless, but this is a government budget we are talking about. It’s not like they can print money :wink:

So did NASA initially design the rover to take an enormous beating from Mars’s natural atmosphere (for lack of not knowing a better word) but that hasn’t happened? And are you collecting different kinds of data now that you didn’t initially intend on collecting when the mission was originally launched?

Just wondering, will Mars ever get too far away that the rover won’t be able to send anything back to Earth?

How very true.

Thanks, Dave.