3139Who's Is Doing The Dusting?
- Dec 22, 2004Mystery Martian cleans US space buggy
An unexplained phenomenon akin to a space-borne car wash has boosted the
performance of one of the two US rovers probing the surface of Mars, New
Scientist magazine said.
It said something - or someone - had regularly cleaned layers of dust
from the solar panels of the Mars Opportunity vehicle while it was
closed down during the Martian night.
The cleaning had boosted the panels' power output close to their maximum
900 watt-hours per day after at one stage dropping to 500 watt-hours
because of the heavy Martian dirt.
By contrast, the power output of the solar panels of Mars Spirit - on a
different part of the Red Planet - had dropped to just 400 watt-hours a
day, clogged by the heavy dust.
"These exciting and unexplained cleaning events have kept Opportunity in
really great shape," the magazine quoted NASA rover team leader Jim
Erickson as saying.