Happy Fifth Anniversary Spirit and Opportunity – dnd

Five years ago the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers set out on a mission that was expected to last 90 days. These geological Energizer Bunnies are still trucking’ around the Martian surface five years later. During their five years on the planet, the rovers have transmitted over 250,000 images, traveled more than 13 miles, and sent back more than 36GB of data.

This is a remarkable success for NASA’s robotic space exploration program, and emphasizes the dramatic cost-benefits of robotic space exploration over manned space exploration.

I hope the next administration takes note of these accomplishments and the efficacy of robotic space exploration.



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74 responses to “Happy Fifth Anniversary Spirit and Opportunity – dnd

  1. You forget to mention how long Voyager has been operating dnd! Sorry but you’re not going to win me over on this one, I think there is value in manned space flight.

  2. Chef Sheila

    I think exploration paves the way for manned space flight.

    The sort answer is, better management and a trim down of a bloated mishandled viable Space Program. NASA needs a fitness program like me!

    But Brian, the unmanned program has opened the universe for us and has aided our knowlege of this universe.

  3. I didn’t say there isn’t value in unmanned missions.

  4. Chef Sheila

    Testy are we today? 😉

  5. Chef Sheila

    Time for the Doughnuts….there is everyone ok with the spelling?

    However, if Dunkin Donuts can spell it that way, I can too…. So, Time to go make the Donuts! 😆

  6. Not at all, your post assumed something isn’t true! Kind of like Bush assuming Iraq had WMDs.


  7. Nannymm

    I think the unmanned program is far more cost effective than the manned program; therefore, we should concentrate on the former for the immediate future and invest less in the latter. Once we have the economy is back on track, we can invest more in manned flights.

  8. Chef Sheila

    You See? Nanny is with it! Waling out the door>>>>


  10. dnd

    I don’t have a problem with manned space flight, but it has limited utility, other than good PR and providing high tech jobs. Doing maintenance on the Hubble or scientific work on the space station seems reasonable. But exploration, e.g., going to the Moon, and especially Mars is not.

    Space is a particularly hostile and dangerous environment. Making it safe for manned flight is extraordinarily expensive.

    Note also, with the exception of the Hubble, when was the last time you heard about any big scientific discoveries from the shuttle or space station programs? Those things are PR gold for NASA.

  11. Well that’s not fair dnd, the primary goal of the ISS is proived research on the long term effects of humans in space. One could just as fairly ask what tangible benefits have the rovers provided us?

  12. dnd

    Here’s an interesting clip of the people in the rover program:


    For some reason, the video doesn’t work when I click on the link, but if you go to the bottom of the page and click on the 12.22.08 Five Years on Mars, it works.

  13. horsedooty

    I am ok with manned flight but for me, the “pucker factor” would be just to much.

  14. dnd

    Allow me to disagree. The primary goal of the ISS is not to provide research on the long term effects of humans in space, though that’s been the biggest scientific accomplishment. To what end other than travel to Mars? Besides, the ISS does not suffer the radiation of deep space. The ISS is suppose to be a lab that conducts experiments which can only be done in space.

    Now the rover’s accomplishments have been tremendous in terms of trying to understand our solar system. It’s pure science for science’s sake, like the Hubble and the supercolliders.

  15. dnd

    “pucker factor.” Are you referring to sex in zero G’s 😉

  16. My understanding of the rovers is that their primary mission on Mars was to look for water, and if you’re not planning on putting a manned base on the planet who cares where the water is. Make no mistake I’m a big fan of research for research’s sake and I fully support the missions of all our unmanned programs, I just don’t see it as an either-or.

  17. Chef Sheila

    I thought The Rovers was also looking for signs of life? Where there is water, there is life or the foundation for it.

  18. Chef Sheila

    Me? I was disappointed when the researchers dispelled all the Martian nonsense finally. lol

  19. The four science goals of NASA’s long-term Mars Exploration Program are:

    * Determine whether life ever arose on Mars
    * Characterize the climate of Mars
    * Characterize the geology of Mars
    * Prepare for human exploration[6]


  20. dnd

    Me? I was disappointed when the researchers dispelled the notion that the Moon was made of green cheese 😉

  21. Well if you want green cheese you can always hug the floor at McSorleys!

  22. Chef Sheila

    Hey Ya! And the man in the moon didn’t wink!

  23. Chef Sheila

    😆 @ brian’s remark!

  24. horsedooty


    here is what I was talking abou re: pucker factor


  25. Chef Sheila

    This is not “Pucker Factor” material, but it involves something that helps an appendage close to it….


  26. Chef Sheila

    Oh oh….invasion underway. Hopefully this will be measured and sucessful.

  27. horsedooty

    Being fairly dense, I don’t understand what Hamas thinks they can gain by pissing off the Israelis. Hamas has to know they are out-gunned and out-manned in every way. Does anyone know the answers?

  28. dnd

    I’m pretty dense too, but I see this as the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s. Or maybe a more contemporary reference would be the Carters and Wakefields (Andy Griffith Show, season 1, episode 9, “A Feud is a Feud.”)

  29. horsedooty

    maybe that is what it is. Over on TM they are saying it is akin to a PR move to show how wrong Israel is. Not sure I buy that. I took some PR classes in college and never once did the lesson plan include pissing off the Israelis and having them bomb the crap out of my town.

  30. doots you’re looking for a rational in hate, that never works.

  31. dnd

    “Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics,
    And the Catholics hate the Protestants,
    And the Hindus hate the Muslims,
    And everybody hates the Jews.”

    From “National Brother-hood Week” by Tom Lehrer

  32. Just two comments : as I have been subjected to the total lameness of television programming through the holiday and weekend……

    1.) I wish that the news reporters and networks could just send their sincere condolences to the Travolta family…in a respectful and mindful manner, instead of the insensitive crap they are airing.

    2.) I am sick of WAR.

    Back to your normal programing……soup just arrived

  33. an organic vegetable soup from a can…. a local specialty (not)

    the Cats think it’s for them…they are walking all over the place

  34. tell em to get a job and go buy their own!

  35. I just told em…… they just stared at me…..

    they have no drive, neither one of them has worked a day in their lives.

  36. Nannymm

    Brian’s jealous.

  37. Good morning kids. Its raining here in GA. My son insists I take him bowling, so i am doing some early lesson plans this morning. I saw that Israeli ground forces have gone into Gaza. Personally, no matter which side is right, i believe the mindless violence will continue even after this is resolved.

  38. dnd

    Morning all. Snowing here in CO, and a balmy 19 degrees.

    Doonesbury’s pretty funny this morning:


  39. horsedooty

    morning to you Brian.

  40. Nannymm

    Good morning! It’s a beautiful, clear, and sunny 2 degrees here in NY’s North Country.

  41. Its cleared off quite a bit here and things are looking nice. We are leaving for the bowling Alley soon.

    I was dead wrong about the Chargers! I will say the Dolphins are going to lose to the Ravens.

    We are getting close to Inaguration Day. What a relief that will be!

  42. The nice thing about bowling is it’s one of the few sports where you expected to drink while playing! I love bowling.


  43. dnd

    My favorite curmudgeon, Ed Quillen on the origin of “lame duck.”

    “Lately Maddow’s show has offered a nightly feature called “Lame Duck Watch,” which observes that George W. Bush is still president of the United States of America, and thus in position to issue regulations, pardons and executive orders that deserve scrutiny, especially when most eyes are focused on the impending presidency of Barack Obama.

    This got me to wondering about the origin of the phrase “lame duck.” We use it to describe an office-holder whose replacement has been elected but not sworn in. It connotes a sense of being crippled, even though the lame duck still holds the full powers of office. ”


  44. dnd

    I thought your loved bowling because of the cool shoes 😉

  45. dog's eye view

    Good morning to all. Hope your week, and the new 2009, is off to a good start. Cheers from the LA area.

  46. dog's eye view

    PS: Sheila: we drove around Palm Desert a bit (at night) en route from Phoenix to LA. You could tell it’s beautiful out there; we drove up upon a necklace of lights after the quiet black of the desert at night. Saw the pink flamingos hanging out, relaxing, at a JW Marriott resort. Seem to have driven around P Desert, Rancho Mirage and some of Palm Springs. Would love to see those near-in mountains in daytime.

  47. The shoes are the icing on the cake!

  48. horsedooty

    Bill Richardson is withdrawing his name for Commerce Sec in the Obama administration. So sort of investigation and Richardson’s name has been implicated some how? More updates to follow.

  49. dog's eye view

    LATimes: Why Obama’s Green Jobs Program Might Work

    report from Hemlock, Michigan



    wow re Richardson.

  50. damn! Where did you hear that doots?

  51. dog's eye view

    second Brian’s question. Richardson news not on any of the major news sites (except ours!)

  52. horsedooty

    tune in to MSNBC some sort of FBI investigation.

  53. Nannymm

    I just heard that, too. Why would he withdraw unless there is something to the allegation?

  54. Well these things can get pretty ugly, but I’d be very surprised if Richardson is involved in a pay to play scheme. I don’t get that vibe from him at all.

  55. Nannymm

    I don’t either, Brian. That’s why I’m so surprised. Perhaps he just doesn’t want Obama to have to start out with an ethics cloud over the new administration. But it’s quite a shame regardless.

  56. dnd

    New Years Day polar plunge in the Boulder Reservoir benefits Alzheimer’s Assoc.


  57. dnd

    This Richardson flap begs the question: what if he is exonerated? I’ve got to think Obama believes Richardson is too valuable to let him drift off into the sunset.

  58. I smile each time I think about the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers. It feels like Americans are doing something big and bold and worthwhile and makes me proud. Thanks for the reminder.

  59. Hi mary, welcome to the blog, don’t be a stranger!

  60. dnd

    You hit on the major point. Spirit and Opportunity are less about the scientific discoveries as much as they are about what we, as a people, can accomplish when we set our minds to it. Thanks.

  61. Obama arrives in DC area 2 weeks before inaugural

    “I’ve got to tell you, I choked up a little bit leaving my house today,” Obama told reporters aboard a government 757 plane typically used by vice presidents and first ladies. It was his first trip on a government aircraft since winning election Nov. 4, aides said.


  62. Morning folkels…

    I am sad to hear the news about Richardson. We will have to see how it plays out, but I cant see a silver lining in it.

    Hope you all have a good day. It will be a very long one for me.

  63. horsedooty

    I don’t remember if I ever introduced you guys to an amazing dog named Skidboot so I will offer this youtube vid for your Monday morning smiles. Skidboot died a few years ago but his legacy lives on as evidenced by the last link.



  64. horsedooty

    freezing rain here today. 2 days ago it was in the low 80’s. Today right now it is 30F.

  65. Morning peeps. Well the holidays are over and back to the real world, sucks!

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