Send in the cryptoendoliths
Instead of sterilising our martian invasion scouts, why not send in some plants that might survive there. A million years later, there could be a measurable amount of oxygen in the martian atmosphere.
The Mars Science Laboratory, the "nuclear-powered robot laser tank" carrying NASA's shiny new rover, Curiosity, is due to fire its engine in two days' time for the biggest manoeuvre on its trip to the Red Planet. Artist's concept of MSL during cruise phase Artist's concept of MSL during cruise phase. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech …
I'm no scientist type man, but with the atmosphere on Mars being paper thin and all, the whole place is probably as radioactive as Chernobyl after the last set of experiments. Anything living there will be so used to harsh radiation already that a nuke falling from the sky will look like a gift from the gods.
Well, they have already done that with a few of the other landers... oops, it seems mariner 10 did not get a decon treatment at all. If there were anaerobic bacteria on Mariner 10, then undoubtedly they are multiplying and flourishing in an unchallenged environment (beneath the rocks, the harsh ultraviolet and assorted other radiation will pretty much sterilize anything exposed to the sun)
If this one has solar panels, I hope they though enough this time to add a "fan" attachment to the robotic arm for cell cleaning... (DOH! They included a "RAT" with a spinning blade, but didn't even think about a device to blow the dust off the panels, However, their mission was only supposed to be 3 months, so they didn't percieve the need.)
Just how much good do you think a fan will do at substantially less than 1% of earth's atmospheric pressure?
It's not an easy problem to solve, which is why they haven't entirely solved it. There's coatings to make a less sticky surface, but even a little static charge is enough to make the stuff stick harder than can easily be removed.
This one is a nuclear-powered LASER-armed tank of a machine.
More seriously, dust buildup on the solar panels of Spirit and Opportunity wasn't expected to be an issue because there's only a lot of dust during the stormy season, which was well after the original mission was expected to have finished.
You drive across Kansas (400mi). The last 200mi are some of the most boring you'll ever encounter. You start seeing the signs for the border (Kandorado: 100mi) and start to rejoyce: Colorado - mountains! Scenery!
Then you hit the border and the realization that eastern Colorado is very much like western Kansas until you get to Denver, and you have 200 miles to go, and you despair.
And I won't even talk about driving to Los Angles - "Take I35. Turn right onto I40 at OKC. Drive for 1300 miles."
Shouldn't that be stupendous speed? :)
Regarding fans or brushes to clear the solar panels, I've always been of the opinion that anything which looks like a giant cockroach ought to be able to raise the panels to vertical and shake 'em, like the real thing can do to get rid of dust buildup.
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