Duna Rover 1, the first rover to land on a body outside of our own planetary system, has landed hard, said mission control earlier. The rover is part of a multi-craft mission that was launched earlier this year that includes two probes to survey for kethane deposits within Duna and Duna’s moon named Ike.
“The impact force was a lot higher than we had ever seen in the computer simulations” said one RUD mission control engineer. Mission control fell silent when their fears were confirmed after having heard that impact sensors detected a much stronger impact than was anticipated when the rover was to make initial contact on the surface of Duna.
“The first images we received were horrifying as they confirmed our fears. The rover had been damaged by the hard landing” said Bill Kerman from mission control as he observed the images coming onto the main screen in mission control.
The rover impacted with a force that was 8 times higher than was anticipating. “It was designed to survive a free fall from a height of 10 meters from the surface in the atmosphere and gravity of Duna but it impacted at a much higher velocity than we anticipated” said Bill Kerman. The result: two destroyed wheel support struts and a rover that cannot move itself effectively or reliably. Other systems appear to be in good condition as ground controllers with engineers looking over their shoulders at every move are scouring over the rover’s systems and sub-systems to look for any additional faults.
The rover’s primary mission was to analyze the feasibility of drilling for kethane deposits on the surface of Duna. While the existence of the kethane deposits is known for sure, the composition of the ground between the kethane and the surface of Duna is uncertain and the rover was going down there to get a closer and more accurate look.
The ability to move is not the end for the rover though. According to mission control, all of the surface experiment equipment is intact and in good working order from what they have tested so far. The rover can still perform the prescribed science, although it will only be able to perform it from its current position.
RUD has still not released information on what could have caused the higher speed than was anticipated although it is easy to assume that the lower atmosphere density was less dense than was previously estimated. Luckily, the rover has a barometer onboard that will be able to provide atmospheric data on the surface so that RUD will have more accurate atmospheric charts for future surface and atmospheric missions.
With Eve Express on the way to the storm planet Eve, RUD will be conducting a full speed investigation to see if it is a fault with the rover itself, as the rover aboard Eve Express is of a similar design to Duna Rover 1. “We hope that if it is a problem with the rover design that it is a software error because that is something we can fix before it is a problem on Eve Express” said one of the rover engineers.