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Thread: Opportunity Update

  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spacedude View Post
    Should NASA have installed a broom on an arm for sweeping the dust off the solar panels? Dust devils can't be too dependable.
    This was actually one of several ideas the MER team toyed with during it's construction. Some other ideas they had included one for compressed air to blow the dust off, and another was having clear plastic on rollers covering the solar panals and when the plastic got dirty they could just roll the dirty part away and have clean plastic replace it. All were eventually determined to be too heavy for their mass limit though. And from what I hear the mass limit was TIGHT for these rovers. At one point they were seriously considering throwing away one of their cameras just to save 200 grams of weight, that's how bad it got. And those solar panel ideas were all adding (iirc) 15-20 kilograms of mass to put in. In the end they decided that just having oversized panels for the rover that fold out was the best way to go.

  2. #62
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    And remember: 90 days primary mission...

  3. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave241 View Post
    This was actually one of several ideas the MER team toyed with during it's construction. Some other ideas they had included one for compressed air to blow the dust off, and another was having clear plastic on rollers covering the solar panals and when the plastic got dirty they could just roll the dirty part away and have clean plastic replace it. All were eventually determined to be too heavy for their mass limit though. And from what I hear the mass limit was TIGHT for these rovers. At one point they were seriously considering throwing away one of their cameras just to save 200 grams of weight, that's how bad it got. And those solar panel ideas were all adding (iirc) 15-20 kilograms of mass to put in. In the end they decided that just having oversized panels for the rover that fold out was the best way to go.
    So it looks like a Miller example. Cheap up front leaving them vulnerable to problems down the line, but in the end worth it.

  4. #64
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    My "broom on an arm for sweeping the dust off the solar panels" was a bit of a tongue-in-cheeky comment, and it's been so long that I had forgotten about it being a 90 day mission.

  5. #65
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    As I hope many of the board participants know by now (if you follow the MER mission), is that a "free broom" of sorts has been working on Opportunity (as it did for Spirit) regularly since the start of the mission: dust devils and other winds blowing off excess dust. It might seem unintuitive that a dust devil would clean the panels,but the winds associated with them are wider than the visible dust columns, and the dust density is often lower than what's on the panels, from what I understand.

    These cleaning events have been critical in extending the rovers' lives.

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