Viewing a single comment thread. View all comments

Gimblejay t1_iriuuey wrote

It’s interesting to me that they haven’t found a solution to the caked dust covering the solar arrays. Maybe hindsight is 20/20 and in follow up missions it will be considered.

Otherwise, pretty cool to hear there’s a continent sized dust storm on a planet smaller than Earth!


PintsizeWarrior t1_iriy1xx wrote

There are lots of solutions, wiping, blowing, shaking, etc. Those would need to be developed by these projects, adding cost, schedule, and risk. For “inexpensive” missions like Insight, that means choosing between science capabilities and longevity, so they made tough choices.


Bdr1983 t1_iriyiia wrote

All these solutions increase the weight of the probe but a lot, thus they would have to do away with science instruments. That is why they don't add these items. Easiest would actually be do away with solar and have RTG's on every probe... But those are expensive and harder to come by these days, as not much plutonium is made anymore.


PintsizeWarrior t1_irjdj3c wrote

Totally. If we could use RTGs or fission reactors like the one NASA is developing, these problems would be much nicer! Shame they cost so dang much!


ClearlyCylindrical t1_irju787 wrote

Wiping is a bad idea, would really damage the panels.


PintsizeWarrior t1_irjuz1a wrote

Yeah sorry, I didn’t mean that one could just use wipers on these exact panels as is. I meant that a new system for the panels that could include those solutions with the right material changes would be needed, and these projects can’t take on that effort and still meet their cost limits.


ClearlyCylindrical t1_irjv54x wrote

Solar panels are delicate, changing the surface to make them more durable to wiping would significantly reduce their efficiency.


noncongruent t1_irlfm42 wrote

On the other hand, being able to wipe a few times would dramatically extend the mission lifetime. If InSight had been launched with a brush attachment instead of HP^3 then it would likely have another decade of service ahead of it running the other experiments, especially the seismometer. Eventually other parts will fail, especially the onboard batteries since there's not really any such thing as battery chemistries that have indefinite lifetimes, but then again this is more of a hindsight observation.


MordinSolusSTG t1_irix1fb wrote

engineers at nasa never heard of wiper blades, smh my head


Legacy-ZA t1_irixgp3 wrote

Or a rotary that can turn so the dust falls off, include that with a wiper... Your golden. But alas, we have 🤡 running the 🌍 so what can you expect?


jmiz5 t1_irj0wsr wrote

You're calling rocket scientists clowns, but you're posting on Reddit and you don't know the proper usage of "your"


savagebrar t1_irjhvak wrote

I didn’t even know where to start cause wtf lmaoooo


pssiraj t1_irizdbq wrote

Not quite fair. Science on another planet is tough and ridiculously expensive. They no doubt had to choose between adding more fail-safes and saving weight and cost.


poqpoq t1_irj1ecz wrote

Or Martian dust is like little razor blazes and a wiper would scratch up the panels badly. A rotary makes more sense but the dust is static and some would still stick. Also a rotary is a lot of weight if it can move all the panels with good speed.

There may be a lot of clowns but NASA is not among them unless it’s a case of congress mandating something to them.


almisami t1_irk7zth wrote

The dust clings because of electrostatic charge.

As for wipers, dragging the dust would abrade the panels like sandblasting.


JimiWanShinobi t1_irizacp wrote

Compressed air would work too, there's no moisture in the air like on Earth so it's literally just dust. An air compressor with built-in lines pointed at the solar arrays could just blow the dust off, super simple solution...


poqpoq t1_irj10wj wrote

Made a top level comment with more detail, but Martian dust is static so compressed air wouldn’t work well. Also that’s a pretty big and heavy system if you want any power.


Strykker2 t1_irj5vpb wrote

And where are you going to get all the power that compressor needs?

A compressor alone would draw more power than the entire probe uses currently.


JimiWanShinobi t1_irj8nra wrote

Not necessarily, a small weak one like I have in my trunk could be allowed to build up enough pressure in a storage tank over time until it's needed. Another option could be pre-loaded air cartridges, might mean a limited number of uses but it could extend the life of the system...


Blackpaw8825 t1_irjdyet wrote

Does the one in your trunk work at 180,000 feet? We're talking under 0.1psi, your shitbox compressor isn't even going to hold a gradient at these pressures. Each bite the compressor takes contains so little air.

Couple that with lots of vibration, additional wear surfaces, a lot of extra weight, huge power demands, and the fact that same dust is going to clog the compressor or erode it away...

This simple fix just adds a lot of complexity and failure modes.


Few_Dig7979 t1_irj6d08 wrote

I'm sure you're smarter than NASA you should apply


rocketsocks t1_irjvyxm wrote

If there was an easy, effective way of handling the problem they'd have implemented. As would China with their rover/lander, as would the ESA with their rover design (which hasn't flown yet).


pyrilampes t1_irj2ffb wrote

Space Windex needed here. Where's Mr Clean?


AspieAndProud t1_irkyyxa wrote

I'll volunteer my wife. Send her to Mars to clean it up. 🤔🥽🧤🤪