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Space Science

Odyssey Arriving at Mars Tonight 195

Posted by michael
from the home-from-the-wars dept.
moloader writes: "Odyssey will arrive at Mars on October 24, 2001, 0230 Universal Time (October 23, 7:30pm PDT/ 10:30pm EDT). As it nears its closest point to the planet over the northern hemisphere, the spacecraft will fire its 640-newton main engine for approximately 19.7 minutes to allow itself to be captured into an elliptical, or looping, orbit about 20 hours long. Go Mars!"
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Odyssey Arriving at Mars Tonight

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  • I still think it is amazing that they can use a spectrometer from orbit to tell what elements are on the surface of a planet....
  • I bet Homeros didn't expect his Odysseus dude to go that far..

    Now here's the ultimate sequel!
  • 640 Newtons (Score:4, Funny)

    by wiredog (43288) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @07:36AM (#2465011) Journal
    Should be enough for anybody

    • Geez, if I had 640 Newtons, I know where I'd be spending the afternoon...

    • Actually, the NASA [nasa.gov] page says:

      The engine provides 695 newtons, or 156 pounds of thrust.

      Weird. I wonder where 640 came from?

      • by hawk (1151)
        > Weird. I wonder where 640 came from?


        It has tem, but they're not usable. The transmitter is locating after the 640th Newton, and using noncontiguous thrust would put it in a tailspin. So although all 965 are installed, the last 25 aren't useable. (however, there is speculation that it may be possible to make a TSO system: Terminate, Stay in Orbit., to use the extra Newtons. [Failing that, they'll be wrapped in cookies as snacks for the martians.]).


        hawk

      • by Rocketboy (32971) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @09:32AM (#2465379)
        Weird. I wonder where 640 came from?

        DOS. NASA's been under a bit of a budget crunch and...

        :)
    • The terminology here is not quite accurate. It is actually a 640 Fig Newton engine. NASA studies done in the 1970's determined that Fig Newtons are one of the densest cookies known to man, and the are inexpensive and easy to obtain. They serve as an excellent propellant for this orbital insertion application. It's amazing that only 640 of these cookies are necessary to maneuver this complex spacecraft. They must be flinging them with some kind of high-velocity railgun technology.
  • ... to calculate the point where to fire the engine :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    300,000,000 miles is 480,000,000 Km; let's hope they got it right this time :)
    • As long as the martians don't shoot this one down, too...
  • "As it nears its closest point to the planet over the northern hemisphere, the spacecraft will fire its 640-newton main engine for approximately 19.7 minutes to allow itself to be captured into an elliptical, or looping, orbit about 20 hours long."

    Or, it will fire its 64.0-newton main engine for approximately 197 minutes to allow itself to slam into the surface at about 20x the speed of sound.

    Decimals sure can be a bitch.

  • Let's hope they set their "universal clock" right... Look for a short, bright light in the sky... :)
  • The Giant Dust Storm [slashdot.org] currently swirling around could make for some interesting study, anyways.
    • Interesting. Pulling predictions from the air, now. IR will get a glimpse of the mineral content of the clouds, and clear areas can be determined from visible images. Gamma and neutron will still be able to see the elements on and below the surface. We shall see what they will see.
    • It will take months to fully brake to the right speed, I'm sure the dust storm will have settled by then.

  • by TheMMaster (527904) <hp@@@tmm...cx> on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @07:45AM (#2465031)
    on the mars section of the site : If you want to be a real engineer, set your hands to work on paper models of: Pathfinder Mars Global Surveyor (pdf), and 2001 Mars Odyssey Color or Black-and-White (pdfs) spacecraft.
    with these kinds of drafting techniques...
  • ... into the far side, as someone at NASA worked somthing out in inches instead of milimeters!!

    Seriously, I hope the mission goes as planned, and doesn't circum to the problems that haved dogged missions to Mars in the past!

    Tony

  • into an elliptical, or looping, orbit about 20 hours long.
    Aren't all orbits "looping orbits"? All orbits are elliptical, anyway.
    • Re:Looping orbits? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Manhigh (148034)

      Aren't all orbits "looping orbits"? All orbits are elliptical, anyway.


      All orbits (about a single body) are conic sections, not necessarily ellipses. Given just barely enough energy to escape the body results in a parabolic orbit, and having excess energy results in a hyperbolic one. If the orbit is 'captured,' it has an elliptical shape.

      I agree though, that 'looping' and 'elliptical' shouldnt be used as synonyms.
      • Re:Looping orbits? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by UberNex (525816)
        You can get a perfectly circular orbit as well, but you have to be pretty slick with your total energy calculations.
        • A circle is just a degenerate ellipse that is easier to draw.

          I always balk at unbound trajectories "orbits". It goes against my perceived meaning of the word, somehow.

          Perhaps by "looping" the press release was refering to how the orbit won't be closed? Yeah, I doubt that they were being that subtle, too.
          • I always balk at unbound trajectories "orbits".
            Me too, a parabola isn't an orbit IMO. I think it's probably something to do with the root word "orb".
    • Re:Looping orbits? (Score:3, Informative)

      by krlynch (158571)

      All orbits are elliptical, anyway.

      Actually, orbits are only elliptical around isolated, spherically symmetric objects in Newtonian gravity. Planets are neither isolated, nor spherically symmetric, and gravity is not Newtonian :-) In the real universe, planets are approximately oblate spheroids with "small" surface ripples, like mountains, valleys, etc, which result in radial variations that make individual orbits look like "wavy ellipses" (which is actually a major source of systematic error in the GPS system that needs to be regularly corrected); further, the non-Newtonian nature of gravity (read General Relativity) causes orbits, even around perfectly symmetrical objects, to not close into ellipses, but to precess with time. And there are all sorts of other effects that you need to worry about (other planets, the sun, atmospheric drag, etc. etc. etc.) that further modify the orbit of spacecraft, guaranteeing that they're orbits won't actually look anything like ellipses on all but an "average basis" over a few orbital periods.

  • by onion2k (203094) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @07:54AM (#2465045) Homepage
    an elliptical, or looping, orbit

    All stable orbits are looping. Elliptical just means that it isn't always a uniform distance from the origin of the orbit, in this case, Mars.
    • class Circle extends Ellipse {
      ...
      }
    • A small correction here, while all closed orbits around an object can be classified as eleptical, not all trajectories arround an object are closed. For a fly-by only, the 'orbit' as seen from the center mass would be a hyperbole.

      Also a circular orbit, would not be classified as an eliptic orbit (Although mathematically it can be described as an elipsis with the small axis equal to the long axis).


      Yours Yazeran


      Plan: To go to Mars one day with a hammer.

    • All stable orbits are looping. Elliptical just means that it isn't always a uniform distance from the origin of the orbit, in this case, Mars.


      Indeed - and even if it were a uniform distance from the surface, surface features not withstanding :-) it would still be an ellipse. A circle is still an ellipse - just a special case.

    • This is only true if there are two bodies in the system. Add a moon (or two), and you end up with many orbit shapes.
  • Orbit (Score:4, Informative)

    by standards (461431) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @07:54AM (#2465046)
    The real goal is to have the orbiter revolve around the planet every two hours. The rockets will slow the orbiter down to a 20 hour orbit - then, over a period of months, the orbiter will ease into a two hour orbit - thanks to aerobraking.

    If all works well, that's what'll make this mission a success - the aerobraking technique means significantly lower fuel requirements, which makes for a lighter and thus less expensive mission.

    Let's hope everything works right this time!
    • NASA has already shown a variety of orbits for martian probes, not feeling obligated to stay with the traditional elliptical orbit, or the one-tyme hyperbolic "orbit" used with the outer planets. The last two were parabolic. What will this one be--they're running out of conic sections to choose from . .


      :)


      hawk

  • Be careful (Score:1, Funny)

    by 91degrees (207121)
    We already know that there's water on Mars, and if there is water then there must also be air. If there is air, this suggests that there must be life on the Red planet.


    By flying all these spacecraft into Mars, we may be destroying their ecosystem, and future generations of Nartian aliens may well have an issue with us violating their airspace, and they may well retaliate, or at least prosecute. Perhaps we should ask before sending these probes

    • Re:Be careful (Score:5, Informative)

      by Iron Sun (227218) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @08:02AM (#2465070)

      We already know that there's water on Mars

      Actually, we don't, that's one of the things this probe has been sent to determine. There is an ambiguous but intriguing body of evidence that liquid water may once have flowed on Mars' surface, but what water remains is yet to be determined.

      and if there is water then there must also be air

      We have known for some considerable time that Mars has a very thin atmosphere composed primarily of carbon dioxide. It is less than 1% as thick as Earth's atmosphere.

      If there is air, this suggests that there must be life on the Red planet.

      Your chain of reasoning is getting increasingly tenuous.

      By flying all these spacecraft into Mars, we may be destroying their ecosystem

      Odyssey is an orbiter, not a lander. It will never come in contact with the planet. Even if the worst happens, like it did with Mars Climate Orbiter in 1999, the thin Martian atmosphere is still thick enough to ensure that nothing uncharred reaches the surface. All landers are thoroughly sterilized before leaving Earth.

      • Re:Be careful (Score:2, Interesting)

        by lkaos (187507)
        I would also have to dispute the statement that if their is water, their has to be air. Almost all planets have some sort of atmosphere. The existance of water has absolutely nothing to do with atmosphere. The chances of their being life currently on Mars (atleast, in the form that we know it) would most likely only be bacterial reemains from a prior time period considering that the equators of Mars only reach a high temp of somewhere around 0C. Without liquid water (which there surely, isn't on Mars), then their is very little chance for life.

        I do believe though that out of respect, we shouldn't litter the planet with all sorts of robots and stuff... If there is no other way though, then oh well.
        • Almost all planets have some sort of atmosphere.


          remove that almost and your right. mercury has a tenuous atmosphere of hydrogen and helium that it keeps around itself. and pluto is showing great signs of having a nitrogen based atmosphere... although a very cold one. :)
        • The problem is that if there wasn't an atmosphere then the liquid water would evaporate off of the surface of the planet in no time and then escape into space. If there's liquid water then there is a high probability that there will also be some sort of atmosphere in order to keep the water there.

          And there might be liquid water on mars, under the surface that is. and liquid being about 0C in a slushy state.
      • by mrbuckles (201938) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @08:44AM (#2465183)
        We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If oxygen, that means we can breathe.

        -- Dan Quayle


        Perhaps we've deduced the source of the original post?
      • and if there is water then there must also be air

        We have known for some considerable time that Mars has a very thin atmosphere composed primarily of carbon dioxide. It is less than 1% as thick as Earth's atmosphere.

        There is actually an even better example of the flaw in that log. Europa. Liquid ocean (probably) with 0 (zero) atmosphere. There is absolutely no requirement that a liquid water environment have an atmosphere. In Europa's case, the ice cap is preventing the lower ocean from freezing or boiling off.

      • Funny some people could easily extend and exagerate the information and make it look as if they are facts.

        Lucky there are others who know otherwise.

      • His post was meant as a joke, lighten up!

        Actually, we don't, that's one of the things this probe has been sent to determine

        Actually we do know that there is water on mars, as is evident from watching the polar caps form during the winter season on the planet. The problem is that these caps are very very thin and aren't liquid, so they wouldn't provide for a lot of water on a sustainable basis (These caps come from the water vapour (0.03%) that is in the atmosphere). What they're looking for is a large well of liquid water that can be readily tapped and used.

        We also know that there is fungal blooms that happen, so there is at least a basic rudimentary "life" "ecosystem" on the planet, however there is no sign of any sort of animal life.
        • "We also know that there is fungal blooms that happen, so there is at least a basic rudimentary "life" "ecosystem" on the planet, however there is no sign of any sort of animal life."


          Say what? There are no fungal blooms on Mars. There is no evidence for any life whatsoever on Mars.

          • Say what? There are no fungal blooms on Mars. There is no evidence for any life whatsoever on Mars.

            There is a pronounced darkening of many surfaces on Mars during the summer months, and I had read somewhere that it was due to some sort of fungus, however thinking about it that is pretty much absurd, and I can't seem to find the story that I had read before to support that.
        • Actually we do know that there is water on mars, as is evident from watching the polar caps form during the winter season on the planet.

          Umm... No.

          The martian 'ice' caps are CO2 ice, not water ice.
    • Send a probe with a note attached asking if we can send a probe, or maybe just a little picture of tux so they'll know we come in peace and want to work togeter!
  • About the dust storm (Score:2, Informative)

    by dbolger (161340)
    I wonder how the global dust storm [slashdot.org] on Mars is going to effect the Odyssey's gamma ray spectrometer [nasa.gov] and other systems. It'd be an aweful pitty to go all that way just to find out you've got an obstructed view :\
    • The storm's been running for a couple of months now, but it's still going to be a few more months before the orbit has been stabilised through aerobraking. Think february next year.
  • I want to know about LIFE !!!

    Land a fscking probe there and tell me if there's life or not.

    Damn it, man. US send a bunch of probes to mars in the 70's, with computers 1000 less powerfull than a PS2. why we can't do it again now ???
    • A PS2? try 1000 times less powerful than my wristwatch.
    • by Iron Sun (227218)

      Learning where the water is is a necessary prerequisite to finding what life may still exist. If there is life still there, it will be close to water. Water is easier to find that scant traces of life. Therefore, find the H2O, and you actually have a chance of finding something else.

      NASA sent only two probes to Mars in the 70's, Viking 1 & 2. It has firm plans to send at least one probe every two years until at least the end of the decade. Considering the budget they operate within, I think they're doing a damn good job.

      • Vikings I & II were actually four probes in total. There was a lander and an orbiter for each.

        Minor point, I know.

      • Learning where the water is is a necessary prerequisite to finding what life may still exist. If there is life still there, it will be close to water.

        What makes you think that? Why does everyone see to think they know what "life" is? Such statements remind me of early speculation that Mars or even Venus could be "sister planets" to Earth that humans could live on if we could just reach them. Then we discovered that their atmospheres are, uh, less than hospitable. To believe that all life requires water is equally foolish. In fact, I'd say that when it comes to alien life and alien intelligence, it will be so alien when we first get exposed to it that we won't recognize it as either for the most part.

        • What makes you think that?

          Well, several things would seem to point to that being the most likely course of events if there is any life on Mars at all.

          First and foremost, remember the Martian meteorite that reignited the whole debate? Some scientists are now theorizing that life was thrown about amongst most of the bodies of the inner Solar System in the early days. Therefore any life that did take root on any planets would have features in common. Life on Earth is water based, so any Martian life is therfore more likely to be the same.

          Such statements remind me of early speculation that Mars or even Venus could be "sister planets" to Earth that humans could live on if we could just reach them.

          Centuries ago, people thought the planets were gods. At least the more recent idea of sister planets was closer to the truth. Theories are continuing to evolve, and much current speculation will turn out to be wrong, but we know more that we used to.

          To believe that all life requires water is equally foolish.

          It's impossible to eliminate really exotic biochemistries, but in the inner Solar System water-based life has an overwhelming advantage for many of the same reasons that life is also carbon based: those chemicals are unbelievably versatile, far more so than any other form of chemistry. Liquid water has a number of properties that set it apart from other substances. Ask any chemist about hydrogen bonding and thermal properties. It makes water possibly uniquely suited to its role in life. Any alternate biology would seem unlikely within the so-called "habitable zone" around the Sun.

    • I want to know about LIFE !!!

      Don't forget about the infamous Martian Defence Force. [8k.com] These guys are sure be up for some more target practice.

    • Hey man, I was like, totally planning on making some of those probe things, man. All I need is, like, a couple more hundred bucks. So, uh, I was like, thinking, maybe you could spot me some cash so we could do this probe thing. I'll totally pay you back man, and I promise not to do something crazy with the money that is non-probe related, such as buy a bunch of weed and move to New Mexico. So yeah, you give me the cash, and we can go put probes into the aliens and everything.

      Totally.
    • > Land a fscking probe there and tell me if there's life or not.

      C'mon, we land a probe on Mars every year or so. Only problem is, if there's life on Mars, any life around the vicinity of our landing sites is vaporized or crushed by our landing technique.

      ("Oh, you mean you wanted the probe to be functional after it lands. Sorry, that'll cost extra! And one guy forgot to specify whether he wanted his probe in solid, liquid, or gaseous form upon landing. He was on a budget, so we went with gaseous.")

  • Even Arnold knows that when you go to Mars.. you are supposed to be staying .. "TWO WEEKS".
  • by zensonic (82242) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @08:13AM (#2465095) Homepage

    Since space radiation presents an extreme hazard to crews of interplanetary missions, the experiment will attempt to predict anticipated radiation doses that would be experienced by future astronauts and help determine possible effects of Martian radiation on human


    You have to give NASA credit for thinking far ahead. I'm not that optimistic about space exploration. We need some major breaktroughs in order to get further away from the moon.

    First theres the problem with the propulsion system: we're simply not fast enough in our spaceships. In order to get anywhere we need to approach the speed of light or even exceed it (or better yet, make the whole thing about space/time irrelevant, but that is sci-fi for the time being)

    Second humans are really not meant to be put in space. We need to adapt, and we need to adapt in a serious way. Most of our body is made up of this little molecule H2O, and we need lots of it to survive. Water is not easy to get in space! Food is another problem. Another is that the human bonestructure degenerates in space (it wouldn't be smart spending billions on spaceexploration just to make astronauts land on mars realizing that they have become crippled in the meantime. We can minimize the effect of zero gravity but the problem remains.

    I dream of space too (wonder if all people does in a way). Just can't see how we're going to get there. What bothers me the most are that I don't find much evidence either, of breakthrough technologies that will make humans able to explore space by them self in my lifetime. Pitty really, it's just not the same wathing a robot land somewhere doing the exploration for us! (well maybe for the guy controlling the robot :)
    • by Iron Sun (227218)

      In order to get anywhere we need to approach the speed of light or even exceed it (or better yet, make the whole thing about space/time irrelevant, but that is sci-fi for the time being)

      You ain't just whistling Dixie when you say it's science fiction. The fastest propulsion system proposed that we're fairly sure would work is Orion, which uses a chain of mini atomic bombs to get to 10% of c. Don't even think about trying to build it with todays technology. Anything else is currently just fantasy.

      We don't need to get close to the speed of light for travel within the inner Solar System. If NASA felt that public opinion would tolerate it, they could use nuclear rockets, in which an atomic reactor was used to accelerate the fuel. That is the technology, which we could start building today, that will make travel to and from Mars feasible. We are not, in my opinion, going to get to Mars with conventional rockets.

    • Approach the speed of light?!

      This is very hard. Weird sh*t happens when you try that. You get heavier, shorter and time slows down. IANAP (I am not a Physicist) but we aren't going to get close to the speed of light until we radically change our physics (read: find a loop hole in Relativity eg. worm holes etc).

      If a physicist out there is planning on the whole "But it's impossible!" rant, skip it. We WILL find a way. I know that it can't be compared to breaking the speed of sound but you can't say it is impossible until you're sure that you know every bit of Physics there is to be learned.

      Impossible is a word that shouldn't be used alone. Impossible with our current knowledge is more appropriate, and it stops you looking like a fool later.

      • This is very hard. Weird sh*t happens when you try that. You get heavier, shorter and time slows down. IANAP (I am not a Physicist) but we aren't going to get close to the speed of light until we radically change our physics

        Actually, we could do it now. It would just be horrifically expensive.

        Method number one is to use an external power source to accelerate the ship. The least expensive way to do this is to build a giant laser array in space and use this to propel a solar sail. This would still take something like the US's entire military budget for the last century to implement (out of our price range for now).

        Method number two is to use a fuel with a very high energy density, with a nearly-perfect drive. Antimatter works decently for this (antiproton annihilation produces charged particles (mesons) that can be directed with a magnetic field before they decay). However, the entire world production of antiprotons is something like a few nanograms per year. A pure-antimatter-drive ship would need hundreds of tonnes. Other approaches to interstellar craft use various types of fusion drive. The problem is that you need a fusion reaction that leaves most of its energy as kinetic energy of charged particles, which rules out the easiest two or three forms of fusion (which aren't terribly "easy" to produce as it is).

        So, we could build an interstellar near-C laser launched sailcraft now, for an insane amount of money, and we'll probably be able to build interstellar-capable fusion craft within the next hundred years or so. Both methods are difficult, but neither is impossible and neither requires new physics.

        If a physicist out there is planning on the whole "But it's impossible!" rant, skip it. We WILL find a way.

        The universe has its own idea of what its laws are, and doesn't care how much we *want* to find a way. Hard limits exist.
    • by Christopher Thomas (11717) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @11:51AM (#2465931)
      First theres the problem with the propulsion system: we're simply not fast enough in our spaceships. In order to get anywhere we need to approach the speed of light or even exceed it

      Getting to another star system would require near-C travel, but getting to other planets certainly doesn't. Chemical rockets can get just about anywhere in the inner solar system in a couple of years, and anywhere in the outer solar system within about five years.

      Use an ion drive, and you can get just about anywhere within 1-2 years.

      Sure, you won't be commuting to Mars for the weekend, but this is certainly good enough for colonization and trade. Think back to the old days of wooden ships on Earth.

      Second humans are really not meant to be put in space. We need to adapt, and we need to adapt in a serious way. Most of our body is made up of this little molecule H2O, and we need lots of it to survive. Water is not easy to get in space! Food is another problem. Another is that the human bonestructure degenerates in space.

      Humans aren't going to change their basic structure. We can, however, build contained environments that can support us.

      Water isn't a problem. We already have water-reclamation systems that are perfectly efficient (we just don't use them because they're expensive). Your ship is air- and water-tight - you won't lose any mass to space.

      If you have a big enough ship, food isn't a problem - grow it the old-fashioned way. Or stockpile a year's worth of army rations (this will take mass, but not an unmanageable amount of mass; it's just probably cheaper to grow food).

      Gravity similarly isn't a problem. You can either live with bone degeneration, or you can connect two ship parts with a long cable and spin them to get a wonderful simulation of gravity and avoid all zero-g related health problems.

      In summary, I don't think we need any new magical technology for in-system space travel. We have pretty much everything we need already.
    • Well, reuse all water waste, including the, eh, human output. Create some atrificial gravity, a'la Y2001 SO for example or figure out an engine that allows you to accelerate in 1G half the way, turn around decelerate in 1G before coming to a complete halt at your dest.
      food?? hmmm, dunno, grow plants purhaps?
      so, sorted!! piece of cake!! ;-)

  • by 033A (530670)
    too bad, it missed Mars and soon arrives at Pluto as we can see here [nasa.gov]... how could that happen? Dont they look at their own web pages?
    • That's Mars you idiot. Pluto is just a spec in the distance, it has a label which you are incorrectly associating with the big Mars like circle that also happens to be Mars.
  • by rwa2 (4391)
    Are you cheering on the planet? If Odyssey and Mars were to collide, I'd put my money on the planet too. Or maybe that's a vacation slogan?

    Ah, I remember the long nights of SimEarth, working to terraform Mars into a habitable environment with carbon dioxide and water vapor generators... then getting bored and flinging a couple of ice comets at it -- accompanied by the terrible Sound Blaster MIDI sound FX -- and then finally overdoing it and creating a planetwide ocean. I wonder what approach NASA is planning to take?

    Too bad that game didn't have an option to make sentient rocks...
    • yeah, for all its flaws, I really liked SimEarth. It was different enough from Populous, Civ, etc. that it was very enjoyable. Still have the floppies around somewhere... mebbe it's time to get Dosemu working again...

      -l
  • by Anarchofascist (4820) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @08:21AM (#2465120) Homepage Journal
    Took me a while to work out why they needed another mars probe orbiting the planet when they've still got a perfectly good probe doing a two metre resolution map of the entire surface. The answer is twofold:

    High Res Spectrometers
    This baby has two spectrometers, one in infrared for working out the mineral composition of the surface to a resolution of 100 metres [nasa.gov], and one in gamma rays, for working out how much hydrogen there is near the surface [nasa.gov], and consequently how much rocket fuel they can make in different places if/when they land.

    Comms satellite It acts as a relay between the surface and the Earth, so any new probes (like the twin rovers due to take off next year) wont have to carry big dishes and radios.

    All this and more on the website [nasa.gov].

  • And not 640 pounds-force?
  • by flok (24996)
    wouldn't it be fun, just for the fun, to have a little Linux-box serving a webcam on mars? complete with an ip-number and http-server and all.
    that would be pretty cool
    • I think that most systems would reject a TCP/IP packet from Mars [tuxedo.org]. On a more serious note, I have this feeling that TCP/IP would really suck over that sort of distance (given the round trip time). It's a long time since I did the theory but I'm sure there enough problems using it over a satellite link, let alone an interplanetary link. You would need to tunnel it over a new protocol at the least.
  • Dust Storm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by msheppard (150231) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @08:39AM (#2465171) Homepage Journal
    The Dust Storm [nasa.gov] which can dramatically change the height and density of the atmosphere, are a particular concern during aerobraking.

    A great article on the whole procedure is at this link [nasa.gov].
    • There are just a multitude of variables that need to be considered to successfully put this satellite into orbit. What complicates this is that it will take some time between sending a command and the actual feedback on what happens to reach earth due to the distance involved.

      Amazing though that with computers and robotics, a lot of these are being automated so that mission controllers only need to make small changes.
  • don't forget to visit other NASA sites too.

    specially the mars global surveior's one, with cool hi-res pics of the "martian face". the link is here:
    http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mgs/msss/camera/images/mo c_5_24_01/face/index.html [nasa.gov]
  • <jarjar>
    Did he crash it?
    </jarjar>
  • What's the point? (Score:2, Redundant)

    by GMontag (42283)
    The Martians are just going to shoot this one down too, just like they did with the others. Why bother?
  • Regarding atmospheric conditions on Mars and other planets, does anyone know why storms often seem to be global events? I don't think a global storm happened on earth recently, but other planets seem to have them all the time.
  • Shouldn't that be Earth Standard Time? It's a bit much for us to presume that we can set the standard time conventions for the entire Universe.
  • by _RiZ_ (26333)
    Space rules me. As does /. :)
  • i.e., broadband
  • Set up mirrors! (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by PD (9577)
    If past events are any indication, NASA's servers are going to get a hell of a lot more than a slashdotting tonight.

    The doppler plot is the main thing that everyone will be looking at, and I bet it's going to be completely unavailable during the most interesting times.

    How about a few dozen mirrors to help NASA out?
    • Some total idiot moderated me flamebait (the mind boggles)

      I am serious. NASA's webservers will NOT be able to keep up with the load, and the doppler plot will NOT be available to look at while the thing is entering orbit.

      So, I post it again. Will some people set up some mirrors of the doppler plot to take the load off NASA's servers just a bit?

  • Well, as of about 10:05 CST, it looks like we got us a little 40 b/s link with our orbiter! Congrats, NASA!!

    Operator: We get signal.
    Captain: What !
    Operator: Main screen turn on.
    Captain: It's You !!
    Odyssey: How are you gentlemen !!
    Odyssey: All your Mars are belong to us.

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

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