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turlough

$820 million hunk of junk

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An anomaly of an unknown nature has disrupted communications with the Spirit rover on Mars for more than 24 hours, mission managers said Thursday.

Since Wednesday morning, NASA has received only intermittent blips, all hinting at a problem affecting the golfcart-sized spacecraft's computerized brain, the managers told reporters at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. But they said they could not yet pinpoint the cause of the problem.

The news came a day after the managers said they were experiencing communication problems with the rover because of bad weather at a radar transmission site in Australia. On Thursday, project manager Peter Theisinger amended that view: The loss of data was no longer linked to the weather, but to a "very serious anomaly on the vehicle."

He said several attempts to contact the rover, using direct Earth links as well as satellite relays on NASA's Mars Odyssey and Mars Global Surveyor, were unsuccessful.

"There is no one single fault that explains all the observables," Theisinger said. Among the possibilities could be a software glitch that caused the rover to reset itself, or a power surge, or a temperature-related hardware failure, or perhaps even a cosmic-ray hit, he said.

Theisinger said Mars Global Surveyor did make contact with the Spirit rover's radio transmitter during one pass, but the telemetry contained no meaningful data.

"It was only sending ... a random pattern of zeroes and ones," deputy project manager Richard Cook said. "Effectively, what it means is that the radio was on but the computer wasn

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Maybe George B. and the can do guys at Haliburton should head for Mars immediately and try to solve this problem. They're good at spending alot of money drilling into rocks.

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I think we should send a manned mission to Mars post haste, we've obviously got the technology down pat. :rolleyes:

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