A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Mars Robot Takes Up Stargazing
The Mars robot Spirit has been stuck on the side of a sand dune. Dust accumulations on its solar panels limit its power. Engineers ponder efforts to free the robot, while it sits idle.
What to do?
A stray gust of wind blew most of the dust off, giving Spirit more juice than its had in years. NASA scientists decided to give the robot a chance to do what most of us have done at one time or another - look up at the stars.
(Mars Spirit star view)
Most of the dots in the picture shown above are just hot pixels. However, Canopus shows clearly as a streak on the left side.
"Certainly, a month or more ago, no one was considering astronomy with the rovers," said Mark Lemmon, planetary scientist at Texas A&M University and member of the rover team. "We thought that was done. With the dust cleanings, though, everyone thinks it is better to use the new found energy on night time science than to just burn it with heaters."
"The Canopus images may become a regular occurrence, as a way to monitor dust and/or ice in the sky at night–much as we use Sun images in the day," Lemmon said. "For something like that, we can pick an aim (Canopus, Orion, etc.) and choose filters. We might use color filters to look for any differences that show up, or the clear filter for the most sensitive measurement. Star exposures can go up to 5.5 minutes (compare to 0.1-0.5 sec for a normal day image). We cannot track stars, so they trail after 10 seconds or so–as you see Canopus doing. In longer exposures, hot pixels and cosmic rays show up as points or cluster of light."
Scientists also use the images to look for evidence of night-time clouds, fog and haze that can be noted from the Martian surface.
If we are going to have automated robotic probes out there exploring the galaxy, like the biological package probes from Larry Niven's 1976 story A World Out of Time, we're certainly going to need stargazing robots.
From Universe Today.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/30/2009)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Solar X-Flares Disrupt North American Radio And Navigation
'A true cosmic storm!' - Jack Williamson, 1939.
Restructure An Asteroid, Spin It, Get A 'Space Habitat' With Gravity?
'When the colony was established, the whole interior was carved out with atomic burners...' - John Campbell, 1932.
Quadruple-Star System Now Forming
'... ravished with joy, I gazed at the giant suns, Arcturus and Betelguese, and the red Antares, and at systems of double and triple and quadruple suns...' - Stanton Coblentz, 1934.
Nuclear Rockets To Fly In Space!
'... the only type of engine which could possibly transport a heavy machine from our earth to some planet, would have to be the atomic-energy engine.' -
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Barista Robot Perfects Latte Swirl With Multi-DOF Wriggle
'It's done with a flip of the third joint of the tentacle on the down beat.'
Vendetta 2023 All-Terrain Skateboard Could Use Neal Stephenson's Smartwheels
'If you surf over a bump... If you surf over a pothole...'
Safe Street Rebel Autonomous Vehicle Luddites And Schachner's 1931 Robot-Deranger
'Then the spreading beam of the deranging ray struck them, and they stood an instant transfixed...'
The Electric Balance Bicycle And The Decline Of Western Civilization
'Noiselessly, on rubber-tired wheels, they journeyed...'
'Droplet' Battery Microscale Power Pack
'...a power pack the size of a pea.'
ARX-5 Doing Robot Arm Dancing
It's Data's day - at last.
CD, DVD Bit Rot And PKD's Civic Notification Distorter
'...copy two of the original document no longer can be superimposed on copy one.'
Inbiodroid Prometheus 2.0 Telepresence Avatar Robot
My prize robot, tall, dashing would speak and act for me...
Amazon One Is Frank Herbert's Palm Lock
'A palm lock must be keyed to one individual's hand shape and palm lines.'
DroneDog Ground Security Robot Dogs From Asylon
'I have transferred the ego of a dog to a synthetic dog brain in the skull case of a robot dog.'
Who Knows What Might Be Found When Visiting A Metal Asteroid?
'...inspect the tiny speck of matter that swam toward them out of the bottomless void.'
Giant Lunar Surface Test Bed Built On Earth
Astronauts first walked the site, then flew over the site at a few hundred feet in a small Cessna.
FlyCroTug Drones Work In Teams Now
'It slid smoothly out of its cell like a metal wasp emerging from its nest, and hung in midair.'
Zai Pits (West Sahel) And Dew Collectors (Dune)
'Each is planted most tenderly in its own little pit.'
Delivery Robots Being Bullied, Robbed
'Robots have worse problems than anybody.' (A Present for Pat)
Zoom Education Idea Is 100 Years Old
'... the frosted glass squares began, one by one, to show the faces and shoulders of a peculiar type of young men.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories