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Mars Rover

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A NASA spokesman states that due to the loss of data, they will most likely be unable to determine the cause of the Mars rover’s malfunction. This is not the first time an exploratory mission to Mars has ended in disappointment. ...The possibility of life on Mars has long fascinated scientists and laypersons alike. It’s unclear how the Mars rover got into the crevice, but one thing’s certain, the data which it has sent back contain the first clear indications that there may have been life on Mars. It’s a scientific discovery that has staggering implications for all mankind. Unfortunately, we’ll never know who’s responsible. — "The Lizard-Spock Expansion"

Lizard-Spockex

Howard, Raj and Sheldon in the Mars Rover Lab at Caltech.

The Mars rover was referenced in the episodes "The Nerdvana Annihilation", "The Lizard-Spock Expansion", and "The Apology Insufficiency". Howard performed a front end alignment from 62 million miles away when a Mars rover started pulling to the left. When Howard and Penny first met, he said that if Penny went out with him, she could drive a car on Mars, revealing he worked on the rover. Moreover, he crashed the Mars rover while attempting to similarly impress a girl he met in a bar, Stephanie, whom did not have clearance to enter the control room in the first place. In crisis, Howard called DEFCON 5, but meant DEFCON 1, when he spoke to Leonard on the phone to implement Plan A. Since the rover was not responding, Howard, Sheldon and Raj erased all the hard drives, scrapped the surveillance tapes, wiped their fingerprints off every surface and ran (Plan B). Unfortunately, Howard got the rover stuck in a ditch with indications of possible life on Mars without receiving credit. Further setting Howard back, Sheldon mentioned the Mars rover incident to FBI agent Angela Page – Wolowitz's culpability in the destruction of government property worth millions of dollars cost Howard his security clearance to work on the United States Department of Defense laser-equipped surveillance satellite.

About Mars Rovers

Mars rover

MSL mockup compared with the Mars Exploration Rover and Sojourner rover by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on May 12, 2008

A Mars rover is an automated motor vehicle which propels itself across the surface of the planet Mars after landing.

Rovers have several advantages over stationary landers: they examine more territory, they can be directed to interesting features, they can place themselves in sunny positions to weather winter months and they can advance the knowledge of how to perform very remote robotic vehicle control.

There have been four successful Mars rovers, all of which were robotically operated. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory managed the Mars Pathfinder mission with its Sojourner rover. It currently manages the Mars Exploration Rover Mission with its two rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, and also the Curiosity, which is part of the Mars Science Laboratory mission. (There have also been two successful non-Martian robotic rovers: in the 1970s the USSR sent two Lunokhod rovers to the Moon.[1])

There are also two Mars rover missions planned for the future, including the European ExoMars Rover from ESA and the MAX-C Rover from NASA.

Science Goals

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.

References

  1. "Russia's unmanned missions toward the Moon". www.russianspaceweb.com. http://www.russianspaceweb.com/spacecraft_planetary_lunar.html. Retrieved on 2008-06-25. 

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