Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Little Martian Robots That Will Not Die

Four earth years (1,500 days) over their 90 day warranty and still going strong, the Mars Rovers Spirit and Opportunity have finally met their match. And it isn’t the bone chilling cold of the Martian winters and nights, carbon dioxide frosts forming on their solar panels, angry aliens or even planetary engulfing dust storms. It is something far worse and much more disastrous – the bean counters.

It was just amazing when the rovers surpassed their original design lifetime of 90 days and made it one year, but the glitter wore off for some in the agency when the light bill, mission management and all those salaries and rent had to be paid for year two, three, four and now going on five. All of a sudden the amazingly robust rovers that refuse to die have become a kind of fiscal millstone. Now the word has come down from on high -the budget axe is about to fall. But which of the little robots is it about to fall on? Will it be Spirit or Opportunity? Click here to find out.