Log in

No account? Create an account


The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

Previous Entry Share Next Entry

Spirit rover down and safe, yay!

The Spirit rover, the first of two the US will be landing on Mars this month, has safely landed and is sending back pictures. It's early days yet, but it looks like it may have landed in an ancient lakebed, which means there might be some sedimentary rocks in the neighborhood.

Considering the last two Mars landers have failed (Beagle 2, which apparently went down inside a deep crater, and Mars Polar Lander for undetermined reasons) this is very good news. Landing something safely on another planet is enormously difficult. All you can do (at present anyway) is aim at the general direction of your landing site and pray you don't come down on top of a rock or on a hillside. The Viking landers in the 70s came down on the flattest part of the planet for safety's sake (over the objections of some of the geologists who wanted to run the risk of landing somewhere more interesting). Indeed, it took over a year to figure out from the position of mountains in the backgrounds of the photos where one of the landers was, and they still don't know to any accuracy where the second is.

Let's hope luck holds for the second lander.