08-03-12, 06:17 PM #1
NASA's next Mars Lander
It's easy to love NASA. What's there to hate? Those folks do a damned amazing job on a crummy budget. When I think of the biggest institutional things about my country that make me beam with pride, NASA is always number one.
We're very close people. Mars is like the frakking Bermuda Triangle. Finger crossed.
Each mission that we send, literally, follows Moore's Law and this time is no different. Our friends at NASA have packed more sensors, more scanners, more computing power, more nuclear power into this tank than any past rover. It is somewhere on the order of 50 times more sensitive and capable than the Pathfinder. 10 times what the last two were.
I am actually nervous about this one. Go team.
08-05-12, 01:17 AM #2
Go, go, Rover go ....
At present, the delivery vehicle is flying entirely by computer.
Up to the minute reports from Curiosity itself: Twitter: @MarsCuriosity
Screw the Olympics. No, really. I'm going to be strapped in with two desktops, a laptop, and my iPhone. Twenty-three hours to go. Okay, 23.45, to be specific as I write this. But with beer and bong faithful and near at hand, yeah, I'll be settling in early.
Go, go NASA rover!
08-05-12, 09:06 AM #3
Seven Minutes of Terror: Engineering the Mars Rover's Impossible Landing
Time is getting short for this one.
Daniel Honan on August 5, 2012, 12:00 AM
Here's an interesting engineering challenge. Fly an unmanned spacecraft carrying a 2,000 pound rover 300 million miles to Mars. Smash into the planet's extremely thin atmosphere at 13,000 mph, which will light up the craft's heat shield like the sun, reaching temperatures of 1,600 degrees. The atmosphere will slow your craft down to about 1,000 mph, but you will need to figure out a way to eventually slow to zero, jettison the heat shield and simultaneously guide the ship to a safe landing in the constrained space of the Gale crater.
A supersonic parachute will slow you down to 200 mph, but you're still coming in too hot for a landing. It's time to exercise your pyrotechnic devices, blasting rockets to divert the craft away from the parachute. These rockets can't get too close to the ground because they might create a massive dust cloud and damage the rover's equipment. So a sky crane will have to gently lower the rover to the surface (A so-called 'rover on a rope': is it genius or crazy or a lot of both?).
This sequence is dramatized in a thrilling video below, which NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab has dubbed the "seven minutes of terror," as it will take seven minutes for the craft to travel from the top of the atmosphere to the surface of the planet. It will take 14 minutes to transmit the signal back to Earth, meaning you will have to wait in agonizing uncertainty for seven minutes, not knowing whether your $2.5 billion mission is a success or failure.
You give up? No one would blame you.
You can give yourself a front row seat in a video game that resulted from a partnership between NASA and Microsoft called The Mars Rover Landing. The game is available as a free download at Xbox Live. NASA's engineers describe the gaming experience as very similar to what the actual landing will be like.
08-05-12, 10:49 AM #4
08-05-12, 12:13 PM #5
There's gonna be 7 minutes of extremely puckered sphincters in T-minus 12 hours 25 min.
08-05-12, 12:32 PM #6
Seven Minutes of TerrorOriginally Posted by MacGyver1968
Of course, with two and a half billion dollars on the line, confidence seems a requirement.
08-05-12, 03:37 PM #7
this thing is substantially bigger than any other landers on Mars...the chances of success are slim.
08-05-12, 03:50 PM #8
08-05-12, 06:05 PM #9
I cannot wait. I must be in bed tonight by 10pm as I must be up by 4:30am for a run. I am too much a creature of habit to skip the run, so I'll go to bed as a child before Christmas and hope to wake up to presents from NASA.
08-05-12, 06:36 PM #10
I don´t think I will stay up but wish Curiosity a right side up / soft landing.
08-05-12, 06:40 PM #11
right side up would make it fail, the thrusters are on the bottom of the vehicle.
08-05-12, 06:48 PM #12
08-05-12, 06:56 PM #13
There's a video at the link below that shows the complete delivery from space to the surface.
08-05-12, 06:58 PM #14
The reason why I say their chance are slim is due to the extreme mass increase of Curiosity, when you got that much mass aerobraking and requiring stabilization by thrusters at precise time for correct CG alingment...well its much harder to land.
08-05-12, 06:59 PM #15
It'll all be over and done with by the time I get home from work, but don't forget this:
Depending on luck It could be anything up to THREE DAYS before we get confirmation that Curiosity had landed safely.
In the EDL phase alone, the space craft will, at various times be using four different transmitters - during any of these switch overs, we may loose our lock on the rover.
We are asking the MRO to perform a maneuver it has never attempted before. The MRO has to rotate so that its high gain antenna is pointing at the ground to catch the signal from Curiosity. In theory MRO should be able to do this, and they're performing the maneuver an hour before entry - presumably in case things go wrong - there is, however, the possibility that this maneuver might fail.
If the MRO fails in this regard, there's still Mars Odyssey, but as I understand it, that won't be in position until some hours later.
Even if the MRO performs as planed, if Curiosity lands on a sufficient slope, its high gain antenna will be pointing in the wrong direction and miss MRO entirely.
I'll try to remember to post a youtube video from NASA outlining the potential commplicatoins when I get home for lunch.
But yeah, even if the landing goes smoothly, it might be up to three days before we know it.
08-05-12, 07:07 PM #16
08-05-12, 07:12 PM #17
Odyssey 2001 recently went into safe mode and its ACS system is mulfunctioning, so if MRO fails...couldn't ESA's Mars Express do the job?
08-05-12, 07:15 PM #18
08-05-12, 07:32 PM #19
May come down to orbital considerations - MRO and Odyssey both required orbital burns to get them into position, but they both have the same orbital inclination - 93° where Mars Express has an orbital inclination of 86°.
Based on that alone it simply may not have been feasible, especially once fuel is taken into consideration, to Mars Eexpress into position, and doing so would probably have required action days to months ago.
08-05-12, 07:37 PM #20
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