Thursday, February 05, 2004
News from Mars: "Re:Spirit not that impressive...? (Score:5, Insightful)
by ScottMaxwell (108831) Friend on 12:47 PM -- Tuesday January 20 2004 (#8033617)

Also remember that sunlight is much dimmer out on Mars than it is on the moon, adn the gravity is higher, thus speeds tend to be slower.

And why is sunlight a limiting factor? Because, for political reasons, we couldn't put an RTG (radioactive power source) on the rovers. That leaves us with solar only, which is what leads to the limited speed and the limited vehicle lifetime. If we could fly an RTG on Spirit, we could make it last for years. Maybe we'll be able to do that with a future mission.

As it is, I think we've done pretty well: we're going to drive a 384kg rover a kilometer (or more) and operate it for three months on just about the amount of energy it takes to power two light bulbs (~140W peak). And we're going to do it again with Opportunity, starting in just a few days."

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