NASA is having a hard time making people happy. Plenty of scientists and space enthusiasts are very excited about how well the missions for Spirit and Opportunity have been going. The rovers have outlived their original mission time by years, no small feat on an alien world that usually covers solar panels with talcum fine dust in just three months. (I wonder why no one installs a mechanical brush to clean the dust off.) And with the Phoenix landing safely and accurately and getting to the detailed science of Martian ice and soil, NASA seems to be showing that they can land better and better on the surface of another planet. Before the twin rovers, about a third of all missions to Mars would vanish or crash-land. In fact the rovers were built as duplicates of each other in case one crashes.But hardcore space watchers and space-agnostic taxpayers aren’t thrilled. Phoenix costs $420 million. The twin rovers cost about $800 million to build and an extra $20 million per year to operate. For the space watchers, the $1.3 billion spent on flights to Mars are too little, the investigations are too slow and the technology isn’t moving fast enough for… Read full this story
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