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Old 10-19-2018, 10:09 PM
 
5,210 posts, read 8,210,851 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjshae View Post
Seems like some type of a dust wiper for the solar panels would have been a useful addition at this point. Even if it is just clearing part of the dust overlay.
For the Spirit and Opportunity Rovers, the way the solar panels were designed, it would be pretty difficult to mechanically wipe off dust collected on the panels which would require extra equipment which also makes a heavier payload. They were pretty small and wouldn't have enough power to do the job of cleaning. It's amazing they lasted as long as they did.

With Curiosity, it's a much larger rover (nearly the size of a car). It uses plutonium-238 to provide its power. Nuclear seems to be the current choice for power and avoids the problem of dust collection on solar panels. Its possible Curiosity could last 10, 12, or maybe as long as 15 years. But it's also possible Curiosity could fail sooner if dust clogs up the wheel drive motors.

That said, I would guess eventually small mobile bots or drones might be used in the future to help explore more area, to remotely search for safe paths through hard to see terrain and using a large nuclear rover as a base for take off and communication. Some devices like that might be expendable. There are a lot of ideas and inventions that are being considered.

At some point in time, much heavier robotic equipment could be used to prepare landing sites, drilling for water, and construct habitats for human occupation. It would be much easier for machines to perform such tasks than it would for people to do it. I'm pretty sure solar panels might be included for human occupied structures. With such a scenario, it might be more practical for equipment to mechanically blow air through tubes mounted on the panels to remove dust, or humans could manually do the cleaning.
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Old 10-22-2018, 07:59 PM
 
Location: Madison, Alabama
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjshae View Post
Seems like some type of a dust wiper for the solar panels would have been a useful addition at this point. Even if it is just clearing part of the dust overlay.
Need a power source for the wiper though.
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Old 10-22-2018, 09:56 PM
 
33,821 posts, read 17,312,451 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjshae View Post
Seems like some type of a dust wiper for the solar panels would have been a useful addition at this point. Even if it is just clearing part of the dust overlay.
No offense, but coming up with a design improvement after one out of several thousand error scenarios has eventuated smacks of monday morning quarterbacking.
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Old 10-25-2018, 06:35 AM
 
7,168 posts, read 3,920,595 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dane_in_LA View Post
No offense, but coming up with a design improvement after one out of several thousand error scenarios has eventuated smacks of monday morning quarterbacking.
Especially for something that has greatly exceeded its primary mission timeline.
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Old 10-25-2018, 09:55 PM
 
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It's like whining because your car only lasted 20 years with minimal maintenance. But on the other hand it gives some a feeling of satisfaction that Opportunity finally failed. They see it as a failure of the United States and NASA.

Quite a leap, but it satisfies them.

The rest of us recognize them as what they are. Idiots.
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Old 10-31-2018, 03:24 PM
 
Location: Seattle
2,396 posts, read 506,465 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dane_in_LA View Post
No offense, but coming up with a design improvement after one out of several thousand error scenarios has eventuated smacks of monday morning quarterbacking.

I suppose that's true, since there's no way we'd ever send another rover up there.


Try posting something more insightful next time.
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Old 10-31-2018, 03:30 PM
 
28,638 posts, read 40,613,958 times
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Meeeeow~!
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Old 10-31-2018, 03:39 PM
 
Location: Seattle
2,396 posts, read 506,465 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RocketDawg View Post
Need a power source for the wiper though.

Well presumably you'd prioritize the power for a cleaning device since not much else can be accomplished if there's a dense enough dust coating on the panels. Clearing at least some of the dust off will presumably accelerate the re-activation of the other systems.

An alternative might be some type of ablative system using transparent sheets that roll up once released. That would only be useful for 1-2 cleanings, but it wouldn't need much power.

Last edited by rjshae; 10-31-2018 at 03:52 PM..
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Old 10-31-2018, 04:58 PM
 
5,210 posts, read 8,210,851 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjshae View Post
I suppose that's true, since there's no way we'd ever send another rover up there.


Try posting something more insightful next time.
Speaking of something "insightful", the InSight Mars Lander will be descending to the surface of Mars on Nov. 26. That's only a few weeks from now. The landing location at Elysium Planitia will put the lander about 373 miles from where the Curiosity rover is. Tests by InSight include boring a hole in the soil to a depth of about 16 feet to determine temperature by heat sensors, and to detect any seismic (Marsquakes) activity, as well as other experiment instrument packages and cameras. The lander also contains 2 vanity chips with the names of about 4 million people.

The rocket carrying InSight also carried 2 CubeSats. The CubeSats have already been deployed and are just now starting to send images of Mars back to Earth. Mars still looks like a tiny dot.
https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/mission/overview/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/InSight

In 2020, the 2020 Mars rover is expected to be launched in July or August of 2020. Along with other instruments, it's expected to carry a solar powered helicopter drone to help search for the best routes for the rover to travel.
https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/mission/rover/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_2020
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Old 10-31-2018, 05:15 PM
 
33,821 posts, read 17,312,451 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjshae View Post
I suppose that's true, since there's no way we'd ever send another rover up there.


Try posting something more insightful next time.
This is engineering, right? Two devices, both designed to operate under extreme circumstances. One failed for unknown reasons, one due to dust on the solar panels, both having outlived their expected service lives by magnitudes. Statistically, that's not a great case for sacrificing payload and adding complexity for a solar-cell cleaner subsystem. (N=2)

What JPL actually ended up doing (for Curiosity) was using an isotope thermoelectric generator.
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