^
Keep Houston Press Free
4

Your Car Isn't Broken, It's Just Become A "Stationary Driving Platform," If You Use NASA's Spin

Used cars long ago become "pre-owned."  Kamp Krusty isn't a "fat camp," it's an "image enhancement camp." Torture is now "enhanced interrogation."

The silly-euphemism bar is set pretty high these days. But NASA is taking a shot at winning the competition, not because it is easy but because it is hard.

The agency's Mars robotic rover, Spirit, has defied all expectations for how long it would last, of course -- it has been roaming the red planet for six years. That's pretty good when you consider scientists thought they'd get three months of mobility out of it.

Ten months ago, however, Spirit's treads cracked through a crusty bit of dried Mars and got stuck in the sandy soil underneath. (Terrorism has been ruled out.) NASA has been trying since then to get it moving, but today they threw in the towel.

Whatever you do, though, do not call Spirit "stuck." Call it, according to NASA, a "stationary science platform."

"Spirit is not dead; it has just entered another phase of its long life," said NASA's Doug McCuistion, director of the Mars Exploration Program. "We told the world last year that attempts to set the beloved robot free may not be successful. It looks like Spirit's current location on Mars will be its final resting place."

In other words, it's not dead, it's just resting. Or maybe pining for the fjords.

Technicians are going to have to adjust the angle the rover is now resting at, or it won't be able to get enough solar power to communicate through the Martian winter.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Even immobile, though, NASA is confident Spirit will deliver important data.

"There's a class of science we can do only with a stationary vehicle that we had put off during the years of driving," said Steve Squyres, a researcher at Cornell University and principal investigator for Spirit and Opportunity. "Degraded mobility does not mean the mission ends abruptly. Instead, it lets us transition to stationary science."

That's it!! We've been waiting years to "transition to stationary science"!!

Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue. Beautiful plumage.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.