I see Tony posted a couple of pictures from other planets (Mars and Mercury) in yesterday’s blog entry, and it reminded me of how long the rovers have been on Mars. It is hard to believe they landed way back in 2004 and Opportunity is still going strong (as Tony pointed out). Sadly, Spirit might be a goner. Mission controllers were hoping that Spirit, which has been stuck in sand for a couple of years, might “phone home” in the month of March. Since it did not make contact during March – the time of greatest solar insolation on Mars this year – it is unlikely that it will ever communicate. I suppose its last hurrah is to become a historical landmark someday when humans travel to and eventually colonize Mars.
In some other unfortunate news, because of the poor economy, and the fact that the government is running trillion dollar deficits, budget cuts at NASA might put on hold a possible robotic mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa. A Mars astrobiology mission (searching for signs of life) has top priority so Europa will have to wait. As far as big expensive missions go, I suppose it makes sense to return to Mars a couple more times (the MSL and astrobiology mission) since NASA has had relatively good success with the red planet. Europa would be much more tricky. I blogged about some robotic testing in lake Mendota back in 2008. This research was conducted in preparation for a possible mission to Jupiter’s lively moon.
Lastly, since it is the last day of the month, I need to bring up the old lion and lamb saying once again. We blogged about it earlier this month. Since this year we had lamb-like weather on the first of the month and lamb-like weather today – the last day of the month – it does not bring any credence that March “comes in” and “goes out” in opposite manners.
It looks like the “lion” weather is going to hold off until later Sunday and into Monday of next week. During this time a stronger storm system will bring a chance of heavier rain and snow to our area. It is too early to mention any numbers for accumulations, but a few inches is not out of the question.
Have a good Thursday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.