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Long Live the Lander

Posted November 28, 2008 8:50 AM

The Phoenix Mars Lander has fallen silent, victim of a dust storm and failing batteries. NASA engineers hoped it would function for a few more weeks but knew the end was near with the onset of winter and declining power generated by the solar panels. Operations have ceased and the lander will soon be encased in carbon dioxide ice. However, all is not yet lost: the $480 million Phoenix could theoretically reawaken in the Martian spring, and NASA will be listening for the pitter-patter of binary communications. Has the little lander that tried, died? What engineering fix would you recommend?

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#1

Re: Long Live the Lander

11/29/2008 3:37 AM

Dress it up as baby Emporer Penguin and send up a daddy one. He will keep warm all winter.

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#2

Re: Long Live the Lander

11/30/2008 9:53 AM

The achievements of these landers is probably far more significant than any other achievement in space technology (if one overlooks the first human on the moon, the Voyager spacecraft reaching the edge of the solar system, Sputnik, etc., etc.). I'm not sure how one identifies the appropriate individual as recipient from amoung the thousands of contributors, but it is definitely more deserving of a Nobel price than Al Gore, Martin King, et al. NASA has projected an untried system into an unknown environment, with results far exceeding expectations. The most appropriate fate for these devices would be to recover them and return them to, say the National Air and Space Museum as an inspiration to future generations- a far more appropriate monument to man's achievements than, say, the Enola Gay...

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#4
In reply to #2

Re: Long Live the Lander

12/01/2008 1:03 PM

Agreed, engineering at its very finest.

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#6
In reply to #2

Re: Long Live the Lander

12/09/2008 4:48 PM

While I agree with your statements regarding the achievements accomplished with the landers and the recognition they well deserve and for their preservation, I can see that achievements may be viewed differently regarding the nature of the task and how the goals were accomplished. There is no doubt that the dropping of the atomic bombs will be continually debated as to their use. The point is that they ended a war, the worst in human history, and no doubt saved hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives. It is reprehensible that more than two hundred thousand lives ended because of it. In the course of human events, decisions must be made, and as long as there are individuals who have world domination on their minds, who would subvert the freedoms we have been given, then there must be opposition. We can use our technology for good or for evil. We would do well to remember that the Allies, and particularly the United States, led the way to the ending of that war that, had it ended differently, would have created a world far different from today. A probable world in which the statements we make in these discussions would not have been possible. And it was because of airplanes precisely such as the Enola Gay that made it possible. Goals that started with the best of intentions and are succesful are always great achievements. Goals that started with the worst of intentions but were ended with the best of intentions generate, in my mind, far greater achievements.

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#3

Re: Long Live the Lander

12/01/2008 10:31 AM

The lander will be buried in dry ice/snow during the martian winter. IF the plutonium pellets used as spot heaters in the electronics package manage to keep the delicate electronics from freezing solid, and IF the weight of the ice on top of it does not crush it, it MIGHT survive the winter. But that will take some really long odds to happen.

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#5
In reply to #3

Re: Long Live the Lander

12/01/2008 7:13 PM

Rorschach-

The landers have ALREADY beaten some pretty long odds. Keep your fingers crossed, or whatever magic you practice- we may yet get a bit more out of them...

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