Feeds

Mars rovers can keep on rovin'

NASA okays another mission extension

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity have been given the green light to keep on roving, possibly through to the end of 2009. The rovers' continued good health is the only limit mentioned in NASA's announcement of the mission extension.

The twin rovers landed on Mars in 2004. The original mission called for the pair to spend three months trundling across the Martian surface. They have now been exploring the planet for more than three years.

Alan Stern, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, described the rovers as "amazing machines [that] continue to produce amazing scientific results operating far beyond their design life".

Naturally, after three and a half year on Mars, the rovers are showing their age. After only a year NASA reported that Spirit's drill's teeth had worn away after grinding through five times as much rock as expected. Both rovers also suffered this winter as dust storms cut them off from the Sun, their only source of power, and left their solar panels coated in dust for some time after.

But despite their age, John Callas, rover project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, says the pair are "in good health and capable of conducting great science".

The rovers have already expanded our understanding of the red planet beyond expectations.

Both rovers have found meteorites, Opportunity has identified rocks that match the composition of chunks of Mars that have been found on Earth, and Spirit has snapped dust devils whirling across the planet's surface.

In addition, Opportunity has sent back compelling evidence of Mars' watery past, including the tantalising possibility that the planet could once have basked in the conditions capable of sustaining microbial life. Spirit, too, has found evidence that water has altered the chemistry of the soil and rocks on the plateau it is exploring.

Most of the interest at the moment is focused on Opportunity as it continues its first steps into the Victoria Crater. At 800 metres wide, it's the largest crater the rover has encountered so far. Mission scientists hope the crater's walls will reveal even more secrets of the planet's past. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.