08-05-12, 11:54 PM #21
08-06-12, 12:06 AM #22
08-06-12, 12:07 AM #23
Communal HopeOriginally Posted by YourEyes
Mission complexity for a probe mission is in no small part an outcome derived from trying to answer the demand for more results in return for dollars spent. Perhaps this mission would be better served by three smaller droids, but NASA can't green-light three throws at Mars without crippling its budget. In order to get the work they need done, they needed to pack it all into one robot. The MSL weighs just shy of a ton; it is for this reason they can't just bounce it off the surface and let the balloons tumble like a die.
In truth, it seems a strange concern. NASA needs the attention so people can understand what the agency is trying to deliver, and why it doesn't do us any good to keep squeezing astronomy to pay for wars. Certes, failure will hurt the Space Administration far more than success will help it. But the NASA question, in general, is one that helps define a potential course for our society. And even without the publicity, anything short of unconditional success will find its way into some congressman's complaint about budget money wasted on frivolous exercises instead of doing real good buying bullets or paying toward top-echelon tax cuts. Indeed, Curiosity, in finding success, could stir such complaints with its $2.5b price tag: NASA went to Mars and we didn't even get a lousy rock out of it!
Meanwhile, building public excitement also reinforces an anthropomorphization of the scientific quest itself. If the worst happens, plenty who otherwise would have scoffed will instead feel a vicarious sense of determination, just like we Seattlites who root for the Vancouver Canucks. Not this time ... but the next mission. In that sense, who really cares about the PAC 12 recruiting class? But it gets more press, doesn't it? Curiosity is something much more vital to the human condition than whether the Cougs will break five hundred, or if Tree can recover and make another championship run. People find that sort of hope every day in sports, politics, and even business—e.g., Coke vs. Pepsi, Apple vs. Windows, &c.
The idea of tailgating for Curiosity? Of deliriously cheering together as the data streams in, or hanging our heads in chilling silence, only to look one another in the eye and nod, knowing without saying, "Next time. Next time."
We do that all the time for our favorite sports teams. If NASA can claim a bit of that communal team enthusiasm, it is to their benefit.
The playbook for this touchdown is crazy, sure. But it also has to be. It's the only way to do the job, and NASA geeks seem incredibly confident. Yes, some of that is to be expected, but engineers are also terrible liars as they all have blatant tells. Right now I think they're sweating in no small part because they revel in the challenge, and they genuinely think they've nailed it.
Twenty-five minutes to go, and then we find out.
Curiosity carries more than its automated laboratory. These are the science community's version of championship dreams.
08-06-12, 12:29 AM #24
Inside the seven minutes
Telemetry from Odyssey; Curiosity onboard telemetry data is actually coming in; intermittent connections, but JPL is excited right now.
Still getting heartbeat data.
08-06-12, 12:33 AM #25
08-06-12, 12:35 AM #26
08-06-12, 12:45 AM #27
I just liked the guy screaming out "HOLY SHIT" after the first images came through..
08-06-12, 12:50 AM #28
MRO, Odyssey, and I don't know whatOriginally Posted by YourEyes
I think some of MSL's data made it to one of the orbital surveyors and was relayed home. They had heartbeat signal all the way down; I'm not certain whether they expected that.
The delay was such that whatever data we got was old, but it was accurate. That is, when JPL got word from the rover that it was safely down, then it was safely down.
But between simulation, orbital data, and whatever they were actually getting from Curiosity, I think they had a good idea what was going on. Or, such as it is, gone on.
08-06-12, 01:54 AM #29
I'm in ur crater filming ur soil
First images are back already.
And is that strata I see??
08-06-12, 04:29 AM #30
Not CertainOriginally Posted by Trippy
The caption doesn't say much about what we see on the surface; the view is from the left eye of a stereo camera "positioned at the middle of the rover's front side". As to the detail, NASA simply points out that the dust cover is still on the camera, there is dust in the picture, and three cover fasteners visible in the frame. Oh, right. And that's the shadow of the rover. Good thing they told us that.
(Then again, I wonder what the actual set is representing people who need that information. Never mind; it's not time to be depressing, right?)
I won't say it's not strata, as it's quite a regular shape compared to the idea of being an artifact of landing. I think I heard impact velocity was around 0.4 m/s, which might be enough to unsettle sediment around the landing site; I can't begin to guess at wind effect from the skycrane—it's probably smaller than I think, or else it's really easy to underestimate.
And the thing does weigh a ton on Earth; a little under 750 lbs. (338 kg.) on Mars. The rover is tough enough to handle that little love nudge—really, if 0.4 m/s is the right number, that's a brilliant touchdown—but that darker arc could easily be a crack in sediment caused by the landing.
Even so, it's fascinating. Even a little crack would have a thousand implications.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration. "Curiosity Snaps Picture of Its Shadow". August 6, 2012. NASA.gov. August 6, 2012. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/ms...dia/msl-3.html
08-06-12, 04:58 AM #31
08-06-12, 08:34 AM #32
08-06-12, 10:15 AM #33
Well hopefully the weight won't help cause problems. Like getting it stuck. What "back up" things can it revert to in case of a problem. Can it help repair spirit?
08-06-12, 11:43 AM #34
A spectacular image of the Curiosity rover descending to the surface of the Mars on its parachute has been obtained by an overflying satellite.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter played a key role in Monday's (GMT) historic landing by recording telemetry from the robot as it approached the ground.
An amazing photo, by any standards. The speed it was traveling and to be able to capture that shot..
08-06-12, 01:28 PM #35
08-06-12, 01:37 PM #36
08-06-12, 04:03 PM #37
08-07-12, 12:07 AM #38
Wile E. Coyote Rube Goldberg
I didn't play around with the toys enough. Did anyone see the nifty Flash cartoon on "How Do I Land?"
Awesome. And it really did seem like a Wile E. Coyote Rube Goldberg sort of landing idea. The cartoon format is great.
08-13-12, 08:40 PM #39
Curiosity landed, media hype is over. No one is interested... Curiosity meanwhile is doing it's thing on Mars while Obama is congratulating the team for their success. Yet silence looms for us. Tragic, very much so.
so... does Obama's appraisal means funding revisal for NASA to come? The recent take out of ATK funding out of the private race to space, is more glooming news.
08-17-12, 07:10 PM #40
Curiosity Almost Ready
Curiosity Almost Ready
The lede from Pete Spotts:
After nearly two Earth weeks on the surface of Mars, NASA's rover Curiosity is getting set for target practice.
As Curiosity moves toward the two-week mark, controllers back on Earth are preparing to set the rover about its first task.
The plan is to test the ChemCam, a laser-based analysis instrument, by examining a small cobble presently designated N165. Scientists expect the three-inch rock will prove to be volcanic basalt; it sits in open view nine feet away from Curiosity.
During a briefing on Friday, Mars Science Laboratory project scientist John Grotzinger unveiled a new, high-resolution image of the foothills of Mt. Sharp, roughly four miles from the rover. The foothills—Curiosity's ultimate destination—display distinctive layering that he says is reminiscent of "the Four Corners region of the western US or maybe Sedona, Ariz."
Images of those layers taken from orbit suggest that they contain a range of minerals formed in the presence of liquid water—one of the key elements needed for organic life.
The layers provide a backdrop worthy of a John Ford-John Wayne western for Curiosity's ChemCam target practice.
ChemCam is the rover's scout. Its laser deposits several megawatts of energy onto a spot the size of a pinhead and as many as 23 feet away. ChemCam's small telescope picks up the brief spark of plasma the laser generates as it vaporizes rock samples. Spectrometers inside the rover's body extract from the spark's colors the telltale fingerprints of chemical elements across the entire periodic table.
The science team then uses that information to identify rocks it wants the rover to approach to study in detail. And as it conducts those studies, ChemCam can be taking additional measurements of other rock formations so scientists can fit what they find in up-close samples into a broader geochemical context.
Lead scientist Mark Wien, a Los Alamos physicist, says the team is working to make sure the ChemCam laser and targeting system are properly calibrated before a test burst that will produce thirty images over the course of ten seconds.
So far, the rover has performed beautifully; indeed, the greatest challenge facing the control teams—after impatience, of course—is that the Gale Crater is offering up myriad temptations, nearly too many targets to choose from.
And, by the way, yesterday's high temperature at Gale Crater was a balmy 37°F (2.8°C).
Spotts, Pete. "What Curiosity rover is up to next: Martian target practice". Christian Science Monitor. August 17, 2012. CSMonitor.com. August 17, 2012. http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/201...practice-video
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