Approaching a record on Mars

Opportunity and Spirt are still hanging in there, despite a major Martian dust storm causing the lowest power levels seen on the (solar-powered) rovers to date. Opportunity, in particular, has been having a tough time of it:

More details at’s fresh article: The 2007 Martian Dust Storm: Crisis for Some, Opportunity for Others.

I read a forum comment that we’re approaching breaking the on-surface record for one of the Viking landers. Let’s hope the MERs pull through this latest obstacle as well as they have in the past!

Sols on surface of Mars:
Viking 1 Lander: 2245
Viking 2 Lander: 1281
Spirit: 1261
Opportunity: 1241


Zarro Boogs

Almost two months ago, the QA folks put out a call to help reduce the unwieldy number of “unconfirmed” bugs reported against Firefox. I was curious about how things are going, and was stunned to see the progress to date:

Roughly 2000 fewer bugs, and that’s in addition to however many have been filed since then. So, not only is this effort matching the rate of incoming bugs, but it’s clearing the backlog faster than they have historically been filed. Wow. Bug counts are significantly down in just about every category referenced by the original QA post; Sam says that this isn’t just because of QA’s effort, but that participation in the effort has been widespread. Awesome.

I’ve been tackling unconfirmed Password Manager bugs (along with a huge amount of help from Anthony Hughes), and I think things are well under control now:

Of course, this is only part of the story, as a fair fraction of these bugs have been confirmed, and are now part of the 88 currently-open bugs against Password Manager. But work at reducing that number is also underway. 🙂

Mozilla on the Nokia N800 Internet Tablet

Yesterday at GUADEC, Nokia announced and released a Mozilla-based web browser for the N800. Combined with the Flash 9 update in the most recent firmware, this makes for a very capable handheld device. Yay!

Initial Impressions:

Considering that this is a pre-beta application built on the pre-beta Mozilla 1.9 trunk (where Firefox 3 work is also ongoing), it’s very impressive… I’ve encountered a few quirks and glitches, but nothing major. Performance wise, it’s a little slower to launch than the default browser (Opera), although browsing feels about the same. Not bad for a 330Mhz system with 128MB of RAM.

Major kudos to the Nokia folks for this work, and for making this early-release available!

Down in a hole, feelin’ so small

Opportunity, one of the two Mars Exploration Rovers NASA is (still!) operating, has been in the news a bit this week as it prepares to move down into the biggest crater of its mission — Victoria Crater. I ran across this image, taken last week by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as it passed overhead. The zig-zagging tracks from the rover’s wheels are clearly visible… Amazing. (NASA’s press release has the full-resolution image)

For a bit of scale, here’s the same crater, with a football stadium superimposed.