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Space Science

Homing In On Opportunity From Orbit 48

Posted by timothy
from the eentsy-weentsy-dollar-bills dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Finding its lander inside a 20-meter crater, NASA has further homed in its latest lander's location and a major science target for the Opportunity rover using high resolution orbital cameras from 400 km overhead. The lander's parachute even casted a shadow nearby this target [another 150 meter crater] during descent. Earlier, each bounce of the Spirit rover could be imaged, along with its backshell, heatshield and parachute debris. Even with dust and weathering, this method could find Pathfinder and Viking [barely], and a technical discussion with pictures is at Malin Space Systems, which designed the Mars Orbital Camera. Because of uncertainties in location, however, it would take 60 years to find the lost Mars Polar Lander, but they may look for Beagle if conditions aren't too dusty."
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Homing In On Opportunity From Orbit

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  • by danalien (545655) on Monday January 26, 2004 @02:54AM (#8086219) Homepage
    I kinda was wondering, if there couldn't be a 'OpenSource Space Initiative'

    Let's face it, most of the info that anyone who tries to leave this atmoshpre gives us
    is so 'sugar coated' that after a while it starts to taste awefull in our mounths. And on
    top of things, they only share 'limited info', keeping all the good stuff inside own
    closed doors (even if NASA says they are forth comming, there is much much we never
    will see...).

    And no, I don't mean, build things, more a 'Think Tank' group, who tries to focus on
    solving troubles/things, elaborating on ideas, finding solutions... etc; and at the end of they
    day, everything is Open to everyone, to comment on & contribute.

    *I know, I would like to contribute, if I where able to*... anyone, else?

    ps. if yes, you know where you can find me ;-)

  • I kinda was wondering, if there couldn't be a 'OpenSource Space Initiative'
    There could be, but it probably would not accomplish much.
    And no, I don't mean, build things, more a 'Think Tank' group, who tries to focus on
    solving troubles/things, elaborating on ideas, finding solutions...
    That could work... If you could find a few dozen people willing to spend months understanding a near-unique and tightly integrated hardware/software combination. This isn't like your home boxen where the two are more-or-less unrelated, and a hardware/software interface problem means downloading the latest driver as opposed to having to re-write the OS code.
    at the end of they day, everything is Open to everyone, to comment on & contribute.
    Without the months of self education mentioned above, the comments and contributions will be pretty meaningless. This isn't software that hundreds of thousands of people are running, thus providing a large and diverse base for testing and solving bugs. (And no, we can't substitute simulators either. It would be just as large, if not larger, task to write a simulator/emulator, and it would be just as meaningless at the end of the day without the education.)
  • Re:Puh-lease! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 26, 2004 @10:20AM (#8087853)
    I think he just meant that NASA should publish exactly what they publish among themselves. I don't care if it's bare HTML with only h1 tags and text, but it's obvious that the engineers aren't using information off http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/ to run the mission. It doesn't even have the martian latitude and longitude of the landers.

    However I disagree with the "I would like to contribute, if I where able to" of the original poster. Random suggestions from random people coming at a rate of 10,000 per day would be much more distracting than helpful to NASA.
  • by Muad'Dave (255648) on Monday January 26, 2004 @11:26AM (#8088525) Homepage

    Depending on what you call 'Space Initiative", it already [amsat.org] exists [amsat-dl.org]. Amsat is a worldwide organization that designs, builds, and launches Amateur Radio satellites. They would love to have volunteers to help out, and are willing to add other payloads (like cameras, etc) to their spacecraft. They're even thinking about a Mars mission! [amsat-dl.org].

    Join AMSAT, and help us open up space to the people!

  • Re:Puh-lease! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rk (6314) on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:45PM (#8092161) Journal

    It is a HUGE volume of data, and it comes from all over the place. If you are interested in navigation information, then you can point your FTP client of choice to naif.jpl.nasa.gov and download all the pointing and ephemerides you could want. There's even a toolkit there for various Unixes and Windows to parse this stuff. Science info gets/will get released on the main PDS site I mentioned before. If you want actual mechanical/electrical/propulsion engineering details, I'm afraid I can't help you. I'm a software engineer supporting the scientists, not the engineers.

    A caveat: The data at NAIF is not for the fainthearted. There are no "you are here" files. You are welcome to browse and take whatever you like but it is not trivial stuff. I've been working with NAIF kernels and the CSPICE library for two years and there are still parts that give me the shakes when I think about using them. Even a brilliant softwarte developer will have a difficult time making much sense of it without a more than superficial knowledge of ephemerides, remote sensing, and general NASA/JPL procedures and their peculiar argot.

    I also apologize if I came off rough before. We get (especially those of us in the Mars community) a lot of flak for not releasing up-to-the-minute data from people who are largely told what to think by Richard Hoa[gx]land and his ilk. I tend to take it a bit personally since there is not one bit of released data for the Odyssey THEMIS experiment that has not gone through software I personally wrote and these people more or less accuse us (ME!) of lying. In more polite societies, a charge of lying could be satisfied with swords or pistols on the field, but now all I can do is get really grumpy about it. :-)

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