NASA cut means no roving for Mars rover, AP
"Scientists plan to put one of the twin Mars rovers to sleep and limit the activities of the other robot to fulfill a NASA order to cut $4 million from the program's budget, mission team members said Monday."
Mixed signals from NASA about fate of Mars rover, CNN
"There is a process that has to be followed for any mission to be canceled and the cancellation of the Mars Exploration Rovers is not under consideration," Jacobs said. "There is an ongoing budget review within the agency's Mars exploration program. However, shutting down of one of the rovers is not an option."
Editor's note: JPL is spinning this as if Spirit is being put to death as an innocent victim. It is already in hibernation for the winter and will stay that way for quite some time. Even if it was fully active
its ability to do meaningful science is all but at an end - and its useful lifetime has vastly exceeded everyone's wildest expectations. [note: I will admit that I was a little harsh on Spirit's lack of usefulness. It is just sad that JPL is holding it hostage in order to make its political points]
Meanwhile, yet another outrageous cost overrun on MSL due to JPL's bad management has forced NASA to cough up $200 million in an attempt to fix things. If keeping a hobbled rover, as spunky and adorable as it is, alive is that important you'd think that JPL could find a way to work that $4 million out of the $200 million they have all but extorted from NASA HQ.
Moreover, given that they screwed up, you'd think they'd dip into the fee (i.e. their profit) that they get from their contract to NASA. But no, JPL only knows how to stick their hand out - and not into their own pocket.
That said, the rovers are still an astonishing investment that can be capitalized on for mere peanuts - its just a shame that JPL has let the situation stoop to this new low and allows the rovers to be held hostage.
Some folks mumble behind the scenes that HQ forced JPL into the situation it now finds itself in. All I can offer is to ask what this says about JPL's ability to understand the real cost of its programs. Moreover, it speaks volumes as to the lengths JPL will go to get missions including looking the other way when they know that the numbers don't add up.
Stay tuned. I am certain that Lou Friedman and the Planetary Society will soon sound off on Pasadena-centric Mars politics once again.
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