The LMRs' Role
A Look Beyond Mission 2004
The decision making systems on the LMRs will be supported by the base computers. This is not intended primarily for the in-mission control of the LMRs, but for the post-mission control of the LMRs.
The LMRs will be left on Mars after the astronauts return to Earth. They will be capable of continuing any long term observations of Mars that are of particular interest to scientists on Earth. Through commands from Earth via the satellites and base computers, the LMR "families" will be capable of continuing their work on the martian surface. They can continue to scan and return data from the Martian terrain through the satellite systems.
Duplicates of the control systems on Earth would allow Earth-based control of the LMRs to occur despite the time-delay for radio signals travelling between the two planets. The LMRs are designed to be rugged and would be capable of operating for fairly long periods of time after the astronauts leave the surface. The option of returning to base for repairs would not be available, but would not be overwhelmingly necessary.
Indeed, any of the LMRs that stay in functioning condition could be used by future Mars missions as support vehicles for the new astronauts. The LMRs could map out the martian surface at a very high level of detail. Given enough time, they could travel great distances and continue the search for life in areas not covered by Mission 2004.Continue
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