The Mars Rover is Sooooo Stoned!!!!!

Does Spirit have a Boyfriend? Or may be a little drug habit? NASA is perplexed:

PASADENA, Calif. – The team operating NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit plans diagnostic tests this week after Spirit did not report some of its weekend activities, including a request to determine its orientation after an incomplete drive.

Very suspicious. I’d start keeping track of the odometer if I was NASA.

On Sunday, during the 1,800th Martian day, or sol, of what was initially planned as a 90-sol mission on Mars, information radioed from Spirit indicated the rover had received its driving commands for the day but had not moved. That can happen for many reasons, including the rover properly sensing that it is not ready to drive. However, other behavior on Sol 1800 was even more unusual: Spirit apparently did not record the day’s main activities into the non-volatile memory, the part of its memory that persists even when power is off.

“I don’t remember.” Right. So totally teen-ager.

On Monday, Spirit’s controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., chose to command the rover on Tuesday, Sol 1802, to find the sun with its camera in order to precisely determine its orientation. Not knowing its orientation could have been one possible explanation for Spirit not doing its weekend drive. Early Tuesday, Spirit reported that it had followed the commands, and in fact had located the sun, but not in its expected location.

I think I’d want to check the pupils to see if they are dilated.

“We don’t have a good explanation yet for the way Spirit has been acting for the past few days,” said JPL’s Sharon Laubach, chief of the team that writes and checks commands for the rovers. “Our next steps will be diagnostic activities.”

.. yeah, don’t count on getting an explanation any time soon. Maybe you can read her memoirs in a few years …

Among other possible causes, the team is considering a hypothesis of transitory effects from cosmic rays hitting electronics. On Tuesday, Spirit apparently used its non-volatile memory properly.

…. ffffffffffsssst. (holding holding holding) cough cough cough! ….. Oh man, those cosmic rays are gooooood……

Despite the rover’s unexplained behavior, Mars Exploration Rovers’ Project Manager John Callas of JPL said Wednesday, “Right now, Spirit is under normal sequence control, reporting good health and responsive to commands from the ground.”

… the parents are always the last to know.

Comments

  1. #1 HennepinCountyLawyer
    January 28, 2009

    “Does Spirit have a Boyfriend?”

    I think you’re making an unwarranted assumption here, given that the attempt to determine its orientation was unsuccessful.

  2. #2 Romeo Vitelli
    January 28, 2009

    I blame Twitter. Once a Mars rover starts social networking, it’s only natural that for it to fall into a bad crowd.

    http://twitter.com/MarsPhoenix

  3. #3 Romeo Vitelli
    January 28, 2009

    I blame Twitter. Once a Mars rover starts social networking, it’s only natural that for it to fall into a bad crowd.

    http://twitter.com/MarsPhoenix

  4. #4 Aaron Luchko
    January 28, 2009

    I think it’s simpler than that

    “to precisely determine its orientation. Not knowing its orientation could have been one possible explanation”

    That would explain the secrecy and it’s reluctance to report its activities. Hopefully if NASA is accepting of Spirit’s choice than all will work out.

  5. #5 Pierce R. Butler
    January 29, 2009

    … a request to determine its orientation…

    Who told either the Rover or NASA that the Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell policy is on its way out?

  6. #6 Ian
    January 29, 2009

    “No one would have believed…that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own…Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us….”

  7. #7 uncle noel
    January 29, 2009

    When asked for an explanation, Spirit claimed the right to “make my own decisions”. Adding, “Sheesh, I’m not two anymore!”

  8. #8 Heather
    January 29, 2009

    If we want to thoroughly annoy her, we’d better set up a meeting with the school counselor.

    I sure hope this is just normal teenager angst and rebellion, and not a sign of the onset of senility or dementia. If only we’d have thought to send some coffee along with her…

  9. #9 qbsmd
    January 29, 2009

    I think it’s about 800 in human years. I’m thinking some kind of senile dementia- it just kind of wandered off an forgot what it was supposed to be doing. Next it will start resending old data sets from when it was younger until everyone is bored with them…

  10. #10 Lilian Nattel
    January 29, 2009

    Martians.

  11. #11 P.L. Frederick
    January 30, 2009

    Sometimes what happens on Mars, stays on Mars.

  12. #12 P.L. Frederick
    January 30, 2009

    Sometimes what happens on Mars, stays on Mars.