- Since writing my book which disclosed more than 200 un-announced
Mars artifacts in 2005 , I've been periodically looking at what's
been happening since with the Rovers. All the rovers sent to Mars, including
the recent non-mobile Phoenix Lander are all solar powered. Both Mars
Rovers should have died more than three years ago.
- Since Viking landed on Mars, it has been known that dust
is deposited on Spacecraft, rovers or anything else parked on the surface.
Dust deposition rate has been calculated by NASA as shown in the chart
below taken from their website:
- Fig. 1 Dust deposition rate measured on Sojurner
vehicle on Mars' surface. X axis shown are solar days, labeled as "Sol."
Solar panel power output under a relatively cloudless sky at noon each
day was used to measure dust deposition. Here we can see that in just
a few weeks Sojourner could no longer generate enough energy to function.
- In the above chart we can see that dust is deposited
quite quickly. A solar panel consists of solar cells wired in both series
and parallel. If an array of solar cells is wired in parallel, any one
cell covered up by dust or a shadow will not significantly affect the
total power generated by dozens or hundreds of cells. However, in a series
connected array, when just one solar cell is covered the entire voltage
output will drop to zero. If you have a solar powered calculator, you
can test this principle for yourself by covering up just one cell in the
window with your finger.
- It would be remiss if we didn't discuss the mystery "dust
devils" that seem to wander the planet. First, NASA has concluded
that rocks on Mars are very similar in chemical composition to rocks
on Earth. This would cause Mars dust to be very similar, if not the same
as dust found on Earth. Some theories suggest that the every-present dust
on Mars is essentially the same material that planet's rocks are made
- With this in mind we add into the equation the NASA statement
that "Mars' atmosphere is just 1% that of Earth." Essentially
it's almost a vacuum for purposes of discussion. If true, how could dust
devils be created and if so, how can such a thin atmosphere make rock-like
material airborne? "There-in lies the rub" as the expression
goes. But as we shall see, this story gets even more interesting.
- Equally questionable is how solar panels on two of the
three Mars rovers are cleaned on a regular basis. NASA speaks little about
the tiny little Pathfinder Rover, which was the first mobile rover to
land on Mars. It functioned for just a few months before going silent.
Dust was blamed for the silence when the solar panels were finally covered
with enough dust to prevent recharging batteries. Apparently there wasn't
anything to clean Pathfinder's solar panels even though it landed
near the equator as Spirit and Opportunity also have.
- When Spirit and Opportunity missions were announced,
NASA stated that because of dust deposition on solar panels these spacecraft
would only function a few months and then go silent Yet here we are in
the future about four years later - and both rovers are still working!
- While examining Mars rover images I discovered that NASA
has a peculiar fascination with the sundials on the rovers. For discussion
purposes we'll arbitrarily look at the Opportunity rover in this report.
To examine dust deposition we need to look at a close-up images of the
Opportunity Rover itself. Day 1472 of the mission was chosen at random
and used for the following analysis. It also has some interesting photos
of the rover itself.
- Fig. 2 Day 1472 Antenna erection and steering
mechanism shows a contradiction
- This photo is a great example of the mysterious deep-cleaning
action, and perhaps is why NASA took it. We can see bare metal (green
arrows) even after years after being exposed to the Mars dust deposition
process. Yet there is dust on and around the mechanism (blue arrows.)
Orange arrow points to an opening in a metal bracket, and through the
hole we see no dust. Red arrows point to screw mounts in a casting also
free of dust. These parts are made of aluminum.
- If we assume that a dust devil is cleaning the rovers,
then how could dust be removed from tiny spaces and yet be left on open
- Let's look at some of the evidence we have so far:
- * Dust is deposited at a known rate on the planet
- * Dust devils roam the planet randomly but somehow clean
solar panels just before the rovers go dead for several years in
- * BOTH rovers are being cleaned regularly, even though
located on opposite sides of Mars.
- * The tiny Pathfinder rover was never cleaned and went
- * Dust is present only in areas where it won't degrade
operation of the rovers
- Fig. 3 Aluminum sundial on the Opportunity
rover from Day 1472. Covered with a light layer of dust, the printed message
dedicating the sundial can still be seen. (Right) image from Cornell
University which designed and fabricated the sundials for the Spirit and
Opportunity rovers. Message at bottom reads, "Two Worlds One Sun."
(From author's image archive.)
- Did you notice something else different in the two images?
The crown-like object near the base of the shaft is not present in the
Earth image. Yet Cornell claims this is the actual sundial used on both
- Here we see some light dust deposited on the sundial
in Fig. 3. The argument about differing electrostatic effects would not
seem to apply, since the objects in Fig. 2 and Fig. 3 are both made of
aluminum and grounded to the rover.
- Now just when we're befuddled by all this another surprise
- Fig. 4 Another photo of the SAME sundial
also on Mars day 1472. Now we clearly see more of the elusive dust. This
image was probably taken with a different filter than the image in Fig.
3 but we cannot know for sure. NASA has stopped adding filter details
to their rover images. Here it appears that something disturbed the dust
on top of the ball.
- Based on the inconsistent, bizarre data from NASA I have
a possible theory. There is dust on the vehicle - but it is SELECTIVE
dust. That is, dust which is either left there or placed there in areas
which will not prevent the rovers from functioning. This also implies
that someone may be cleaning them periodically, too. That is, wherever
they are actually located.
- Ted Twietmeyer
-  www.bookonmars.info
-  http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/RT/RT1997/5000/5410landis.htm