Feeds

Mars to go offline for a month as vast nuclear furnace gets in the way

Ha ha, chuckle Martians, time to play!

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Spacecraft exploring and orbiting Mars will be left alone for the next month as the red planet slips behind our nearest star for a bit of a spring break.

The Sun will block radio signals for a month or so, something familiar to old hands such as Mars Express, which has been happily orbiting Mars for almost a decade. It is, however, a new experience for the nuclear-powered NASA tank Curiosity which only landed seven months ago and has been in constant contact since.

Communications with these craft are lost quite regularly, and rovers like Curiosity and the venerable Opportunity are parked up for the duration while orbiters cache what data they can for transmission once contact is re-established.

"We've been through this before," the chief Mars scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory told The Associated Press, "We're not expecting to have any problems during this period. Let's hope it stays that way."

The 'Press also tells us that in contrast to previous blackouts, Mars Odyssey, which has been orbiting the planet since 2001 will attempt daily contact with the Earth despite the small problem of a giant blazing nuclear furnace being in the way.

This is just to see how long contact can be maintained and how quickly it can be re-established, but the other machines of humanity active at the red world will keep schtum until there's a clear line of sight back to Earth.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which arrived in 2006, has been making a name for itself lately with pictures of Curiosity's discarded landing parachute blowing in the Martian wind: photographs of other spacecraft might be a little narcissistic, but they're strangely fascinating.

A parachute on Mars

It's not real time - that flapping took three months -, but it's still impressive

Follow up snaps will have to wait until May, when the big shiny ball of fiery goodness has moved out of the way. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
FORGET the CLIMATE: FATTIES are a MUCH BIGGER problem - study
Fat guy? Drink or smoke? You're worse than a TERRORIST
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
LIFE, JIM? Comet probot lander found 'ORGANICS' on far-off iceball
That's it for God, then – if Comet 67P has got complex molecules
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.