2433: Mars Rovers

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Mars Rovers
I just Googled 'roomba sojourner mod' and was sorely disappointed. Be the change, I guess!
Title text: I just Googled 'roomba sojourner mod' and was sorely disappointed. Be the change, I guess!


In this comic, Randall has made a scatter plot displaying 6 different Mars rovers on a cuteness versus capabilities chart. Only three rover pictures are shown in the main plot, as two of the four rovers are near identical to other rovers sent to Mars, and the last rover is displayed off the cuteness chart.

He finds the Curiosity and Perseverance rovers to be very capable / useful, but not very cute. Spirit and Opportunity are cuter than the first two, but less capable.

The recently launched Perseverance rover contains a drone helicopter, Ingenuity, which Randall finds pretty cute, but is unsure how exactly to grade for capability. The error bars make Ingenuity look like it's bobbing up and down, as helicopters sometimes do. It's debatable if a flying drone can be considered a Mars Rover, since a rover is usually something that drives over a surface, but the anticipated flight plan for Ingenuity is to cover some distance (by air) and then land on the ground again.

Finally, on the very right far off the cuteness chart is the Sojourner rover, launched in 1997. He considers this rover extremely cute, but ultimately not that capable. To indicate the extreme cuteness of Sojourner (previously mentioned in 1585: Similarities), he has drawn it far outside the axis of the plot to indicate it falls off the chart.

In the title text, Randall is disappointed that there aren't many people who have modified their Roomba vacuums to look like (or act like?) the Sojourner rover. Roombas are a recurring theme on xkcd. Search results at the time of posting are mainly reports mentioning the iRobot company, makers of the Roomba line, since one of its founders worked on the Sojourner rover.

The end of the title text, "be the change," is a truncated form of the expression "be the change you want to see in the world"; basically, if there's something you want to see happen, be the one who makes it happen. This implies that Randall will be modifying his Roomba to look/act like Sojourner.


[A scatter plot is shown with two labeled axis, each with 5 ticks and ending in an arrow. Two types of Mars rovers are drawn in the top left part, at the top tick and the next highest tick. Each rover type has a label with two names. A third smaller drone is drawn in the lower right part close to the third tick on the Y-axis, with a single name label. It has two arrows pointing up and down to question marks, and two small lines of either side of the rotor blades, indicate movement. Far to the right, about twice the length of the drawn X-axis from the origin of the chart, and at the height of the lowest tick on the Y-axis, is a third type of rover, also with a single name label. The entire chart also has a label:]
Mars Rovers
Y-Axis: Capabilities
X-Axis: Cuteness
Curiosity & Perseverance
Spirit & Opportunity

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I just realised something: We should totally establish the terms "Mars rover" and "Mars hover" to distinguish these two categories of "stuff we put on Mars". Fabian42 (talk) 10:58, 6 March 2021 (UTC)

But to rove is to wander/roam (aimlessly, or at least without much advanced certainty), and doesn't require wheeled movement - or even legged, which the existing rovers strictly aren't unless the wheels totally jam. To hove is to linger/wait and generally intend to stay put or halt ("Hove to, ye landlubbers! Arrrr!" - a 'suggestion' that might be made by a piratical "Sea Rover")... I think I'd rather Ingy be classed as a Rover than merely a Hover. :-p 15:06, 6 March 2021 (UTC)
This implies that Randall will be modifying his Roomba to look/act like Soujouner.

On first reading, I thought maybe Randall figured that mentioning "roomba sojourner mod" in title text would make it so that the *next* time he searches for that phrase, he will no longer be sorely disappointed. 17:44, 6 March 2021 (UTC)

Which comic was it that Randall said he wanted a pet sojourner rover? 21:21, 7 March 2021 (UTC)

I find the Fuck Grapefruit reference true but irrelevant (Especially as the explanation of why these are related is long and basically goes "There are connected/similar... blah, blah... they are acually not _that_ similar..."). Should be Trivia at most or even completely deleted. Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 08:10, 8 March 2021 (UTC)

Themain thing, which is not mentionned in the explanation, is that for Randall cute = small (eg rabbits) -- 08:36, 8 March 2021 (UTC)

So given what Randall mentioning a subject tends to do, what's the over/under on seeing Sojourner Roombas within the month? 16:20, 8 March 2021 (UTC)

sojourner is not very capable its just a solar powered camera of wheels but it is very small and cute.-- 20:08, 8 March 2021 (UTC)

What, nobody else remembers that Sojouner carried a Alpha particle X-ray spectrometer? It would kiss rocks, making the 80's tee-shirt have a different meaning. And it used Plutonium! 22:10, 30 March 2021 (UTC)

I'm disappointed there's no mention of Beagle 2. 23:58, 8 March 2021 (UTC)

"Rover by name", you mean? (Unfortunately not rover by nature even if it hadn't failed on the final unfurling, apparently having successfully done all the hard parts to the journey. Maybe the first person to drop by could prise it open and help get it charged up as a consolation prize?) 14:06, 9 March 2021 (UTC)

EDIT: Comment was deleted due to spamming-ish-ness.

I feel like this is complete, except that we could maybe link to (in the explanation or in trivia) other xkcds about rovers? Especially ones personifying the rovers (similar to how this one gives them 'cuteness scores'), such as https://xkcd.com/695/ ~ A person

Somebody has to have made a roomba sojourner mod by now. That has to be a thing. If xkcd says anything, that thing must be done. I googled it, but all I found was a Reddit robotics page (on which someone had posted the comic and another person had replied “gfhggfh”) and this page. If someone else is willing to do more research than just looking at the top two Google results, I’m curious… :PSzeth Pancakes (talk) 15:31, 12 March 2022 (UTC)

So is Zhurong not in the chart because it hadn't yet landed at the time the comic was published, or is it just too far to the right of the chart? 17:33, 22 March 2023 (UTC)

Well, indeed it landed (first its lander landed, then it was deployed, as well as a separate detachable but not self-mobile camera) a couple of months after this comic was published. I think it might have been added in a later-published version, but wouldn't guarantee whereabouts. 00:45, 23 March 2023 (UTC)