woensdag 19 november 2008

Reculer pour mieux sauter (Esprit/Spirit)

Spirit, mijn favoriete Marsrobot, wordt de komende weken op een laag energiepitje gezet. Om energie te sparen na de Martiaanse stofstorm, aldus het NASionAal Marsroverteam. Vanaf 30 november 2008 wordt de Marsrobot voor een periode van twee weken Aardtijd zelfs volledig op non-actief gezet (zie NASA-persbericht 14.11.2008 hieronder).

Maar geen paniek. Dat heeft te maken met de Zon die dan tussen de Blauwe en de Rode Planeet staat. En dan moeten Marsjeeps als Spirit en Opportunity zich toch noodgedwongen koest houden.... wegens geen licht van de Zonnekoning.

Spirit-supporters, sportivo's als ze zijn, interpreteren deze levensnoodzakelijke lage-energie-periode graag als een "reculer pour mieux sauter". Afspraak met Spirit dus half december 2008?

Mars Rover Team Sets Low-Power Plan for NASA's Spirit (NASA-persbericht 14.11.2008)

November 14, 2008
Mars Rover Team Sets Low-Power Plan for NASA's Spirit

After assessing data received from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit on Thursday, mission controllers laid out plans for the rover to conserve its modest energy during the next few weeks.

Spirit's solar panels produced 161 watt hours of energy on the Martian day that ended Thursday, under a sky that had cleared appreciably from four days earlier, when a dust storm slashed energy output to 89 watt hours. However, the dust buildup on the panels themselves has worsened. Only 30 percent of the light hitting them gets through the dust and is usable by the photovoltaic cells, down from 33 percent before the storm.

"Spirit is not out of the woods yet," said John Callas of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., project manager for Spirit and its twin, Opportunity. "The storm and all its dust have not gone away completely. And this is the time of the Martian year when storms like this can occur. So the plan ahead is to stay cautious with the rover and work on recharging the batteries while waiting out the rest of the storm's activity."

A four-day plan being transmitted to Spirit today, Nov. 14, tells the rover to keep some heaters turned off and conduct only limited observations and communications. That plan will be followed by similar low-power sequences for the rest of the month.

On Nov. 30, Spirit will begin a two-week period with no new commands sent from Earth, while the sun is between Earth and Mars. Even before the storm that is now subsiding, the rover team did not plan to drive Spirit away from its location at the north end of a low platform called "Home Plate" until after that period of suspended commanding.

Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

NEWS RELEASE: 2008-214

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