The sad loss of a dear friend

by pittcaleb Email    667 views

Two close friends of ours left/moved almost 3 years ago, in January 2004. Although sad to have seen them leave, it has been great to hear from them periodically and keep up to date with pictures they have taken and posted on-line.

Unfortunately, before they left, the doctors/scientists said they would only survive for 3 months. By miracle, they have lived almost 3 years since that date. But their time is coming to a quick end. They both have bum "feet" and can barely get around any more. We will miss them dearly, but their contributions to our society will live on forever. Long live Opportunity and Spirit! BFF

The two rovers have already experienced several parts failures. Spirit's right front wheel seized up in March 2006, due to a broken motor. Since then, the rover team has been driving Spirit in reverse and dragging the dead wheel in order to compensate for the problem.

Opportunity's right front wheel is also injured. It can still spin, but since April 2005, it has no longer been able to turn in different directions to help the rover make turns. Opportunity can still drive reasonably well, however, since the other front wheel and the two back wheels can still swivel.

An "arthritic" instrument arm has also caused problems for Opportunity, a problem that cropped up in November 2005. The motor at the arm's shoulder joint has degraded and is not producing as much torque as it was designed to.

Both rovers are experiencing problems with "encoders" on their rock grinding tools, which tell the rover computers whether the grind head is moving or not. The grinding tools help the rovers study the interior of rocks by cutting away the surface.