I certainly agree with you that those were very successful missions,
I’m relieved to hear it.
... but I’ve also followed them pretty closely
You obviously have, you seem to know some good details. You’ve obviously been touched by the concerns that the NASA engineers, scientists, and managers have for the rovers. When an engineer starts with nothing but an empty test bench and creates a device part-by-part, they do get very vested in the device, they want it to succeed and do well, they’ll even get emotionally vested in it. If you saw their worry written into some of NASA’s articles, that worry is just normal. They’re exploring a new world with a new device, so of course they worry. That worry isn’t special and due to the solar power, they’d be worried about nuclear too. But the difference in what the two technologies makes in the brains of the NASA engineers is that with the solar power now they have proven and learned what the likely risks are when used on Mars, and they’ve learned how to overcome those risks. On the other hand with the nuclear power they wouldn’t have given the dust or the amount of light in the winter much thought, I doubt there are any dust detectors build into the rovers, so they’d know nothing about the dust that accumulates on the rovers.
That the NASA engineers were worried, is just good engineering. That the rovers had some challenges in a brand new world is expected. That they have overcome the challenges and completed the three month mission is a complete success, there’s no undue obstacles that should be blamed on the solar power. That the Odyssey rover is still exploring, is a great bonus, adding much more value to NASA solor power dollars.
Its okay to be very enthusiastic and happy with the solar powered rovers, even if you see some article that express worry about the technology succeeding. There are no problems with solar power, that requires nuclear power nor any other solution. Really, the rovers succeeded and you can be very happy about it. macgyver, isn’t it amazing… there are rovers on Mars! I still don’t really believe it myself.
At least part of the reason Spirit is no longer working is because when it got stuck in the sand it couldn’t be positioned properly for the winter and by the time summer rolled around it had frozen and couldn’t be recovered. These are all things that Curiosities controllers won’t have to worry about.
Nuclear powered rovers can get stuck in the sand too, that problem has nothing at all to do with the power system, and its nothing that nuclear power will solve. Having a winter hibernation procedure is just a part of how that particular power system works. Using the technology correctly isn’t an injury, you wouldn’t use your notebook computer to hammer a nail and still expect it to hold on to your data, would you? You don’t mind the parallel parking procedure for your car, calling it a failed technology, do you? Really, the solar power has been a complete 100% success.
Rovers on Mars, aren’t you just amazed as I am. Little green men, here we come!
i think we both have to defer to the experts at NASA when it comes to the decisions made for these systems.
I’ll defer to the NASA engineering on any topics like Martian geology, Martian atmosphere, and more as they come up. Really, non-engineers could have made the power decision, maybe a manager made the choice, or maybe an engineer, for the Curiosity robot. On this forum Traveler is an engineer too, you see he made his choice, I’m just doing the same as him. I don’t think that a nuclear craft on the surface, is tip-toeing on a planet.