NASA’s Spirit rover is being forced to winter in an alternate location because a broken wheel has slowed the Martian vehicle down so much that it can’t reach its intended spot before winter hits, according to NASA. The rover needs to spend the planet’s dark, cold winter months on a north-facing slope so its solar panels can get enough energy to power it. And with the Martian winter approaching, getting the rover to a safe location has taken precedence over scientific research, principal investigator and Cornell University geologist Steve Squyres said in a statement.
Spirit rover takes detour for winter News.com
With the shuttle fleet grounded and the International Space Station staffed by a skeleton crew, NASA is set to unveil plans on Monday to take people and cargo to the moon.
Even before the official announcement, there is criticism from Capitol Hill over the reported $100 billion cost of the lunar program, given U.S. government commitments to the Iraq war and the recovery from Hurricane Katrina.
Did Mars have water? The ground seems to say yes. The presence of a particular type of hematite, a mineral mostly associated with water, along with large, sandy areas, indicates that the red planet once had a supply of the liquid, said Robert Denise, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a member of the flight development software team for the Mars Exploration Rovers program. Denise is attending the Hot Chips conference taking place this week at Stanford University.