Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Homing In On Opportunity From Orbit

Comments Filter:
  • by danalien (545655) on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:43AM (#8086194) Homepage
    can be found here: http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/newsroom/pressrelea ses/20040125c.html [nasa.gov]

    btw, I like this excerpt, about the 'Spirit' lander:

    >Encouraging developments continued for Opportunity's twin, Spirit, too. Engineers have determined that Spirit's flash memory
    >hardware is functional,strengthening a theory that Spirit's main problem is in software that controls file management of the memory.
    >"I think we've got a patient that's well on the way to recovery," said Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager Pete Theisinger at NASA's
    >Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

    ...don't they kinda wished that they ran linux on it?
    and if it where buggy, they'd at least have a patch within a couple of hours ;-)

    • by NanoGator (522640) on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:50AM (#8086212) Homepage Journal
      "...don't they kinda wished that they ran linux on it?
      and if it where buggy, they'd at least have a patch within a couple of hours ;-)"


      They better hurry before Redhat pulls the plug on the version they're using!

      (Boy I hope the mods are in good humor today.)
    • by danalien (545655) on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:54AM (#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 ;-)

      • Puh-lease! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rk (6314)

        Every scrap of data from NASA science missions get released through the Planetary Data System [nasa.gov], eventually. It's just the science teams that actually propose and run the missions get first crack at the data.

        If you think this isn't fair, stop for a moment and think about the years of blood, sweat and tears that go into these missions. Do you think it is fair then that the scientist with the best internet connection gets to analyze the data first, just because he has a great internet connection? I guaran

        • I think you misunderstood me, my intention & thought.

          I wasn't refering to the 'data the missions produce' /* for what it's worth, I trust them enough to belive their conclusions */

          I was aiming more at actually helping at designing some parts of the mission, by giving my opinion with a solution to something in need of solving...

          A pair of fresh eye's, wouldn't hurt, would it?

        • Re:Puh-lease! (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          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
          • yes it would be distracting, and I didn't mean 'feed them the bare info/source' *no*

            more, a independent 'group of ppl', assimilate suggestions from 'who ever', and bring only forth the 'cream pudding' of the whole.

            and I don't know, how pass familiar you are with OSS development, eg 'linux', but nothing from 'joe shome' would get strait into the kernel, without a bunch of peer-review, from lots of thrusted people close to linus & himself.

            Kinda the same 'developing model', but the topic at hand woul

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

            by rk (6314)

            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

      • 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-les

        • If you could find a few dozen people willing to spend months understanding a near-unique and tightly integrated hardware/software combination.

          While the probes themselves are pretty unique, the ground systems use a lot of commodity hardware and operating systems. When I worked on CBERS [dgi.inpe.br] we were hacking C++ on SGI Octane boxes, while EDOS, the EOS Data and Operations System [nasa.gov] was C on RS/6000s with AIX. I interviewed for a job at STScI [stsci.edu] where, IIRC, they Solaris, and they actually use Lisp in their software f

      • From what I've seen, it takes a year or two of full-time work experience for a new programmer or engineer to get up to speed on these types of systems. It takes even longer to be really good at it.
      • [...] 'OpenSource Space Initiative' [...]
        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.


        And five or six years down the line:

        From: Nasa JPL
        To: project-leader@os-space.org
        Subj: Re: First OpenSpace rapport

        Dear contributers,

        Your ideas are good, and we greatly appreciate your effort.

        However, your findings are
        • you missunderstood me there, young skywalker!

          When I ment 'contribute to', I refered to the 'Think Thank'-group.

          ...if someone wants to use what 'the think thank' groups came/come up with, fine. may it be whom ever...

          ..think, 'linux-like OSS development'... now 'linux' doesn't bark up 'Unixes source tree, wanting to merge with', now does it? no, it's free from whow ever to use & contribute to.....plenty of developing countries who don't have much funding for 'space initiative', that could be possible

          • To be honest with you, I was merely fishing for a +1 or 2 'funny'..

            Speaking without knowing, however, I think NASA's work is pretty open to any 'friendly' country with a bonafide space program..

            Space research has some overlap with military research, and noone wants a nation like North Korea to progress any faster militarily than absolutely neccessary.
      • by Muad'Dave (255648) on Monday January 26, 2004 @12:26PM (#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!

    • There is work to do just that: Java on top of RT/Linux in the Rocky 7 platform (basically the testbed for MER1/2). See here [opengroup.org] (PDF file.)

      Now the question I have is... which filesystem did they use for MER1/2? Is it DOS FAT? If so, I could see how the "too many files" problem could happen quite easily.

      Not that DOS FAT wouldn't be OK for spaceflight, it is very simple, reasonably robust and quite mature. Just gotta watch for those FAT limits.
  • Its amazing how we've got satellites and rovers covering Mars at various locations. Its pretty different from the very first Viking landing. We can see the soft sand around Opportunity, the marks the rovers airbags made, and that there arent any martians running around, at least for now.

    The <a href=http://www.mentallandscape.com/V_DigitalImag e s.htm>Venus landings</a> were more surprising to me because I thought we never landed on Venus. I guess its time to look forward to either landing peopl
    • by 5, egregious (737758) on Monday January 26, 2004 @06:40AM (#8086632)

      The cool thing about space exploration at the moment is a lot of that stuff you mention is being done now or about to be done.

      It's a bit easier to land on Venus than Mars as the atmosphere is so thick - apparently the landers didn't use the parachutes that much to slow down. On the flipside - existing in -25 degrees is easier than +500 degrees.
      The Messenger [jhuapl.edu] spacecraft will be on its way to Mercury via Venus soon.

      The Galileo Atmospheric entry probe [nasa.gov] hit the atmosphere of Jupiter in '95. In the future we may see the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter [nasa.gov] and possibly a Europa lander and submarine - depending on whether the sub surface ocean exists.

      The Huyghens probe attached to the Cassini (Saturn orbiter) [nasa.gov] will analyse the atmosphere of Titan for about 2.5 hours and may work on the surface for 5 minutes or so (arriving July 2004).

      Cheers

    • Or maybe its time to start desiging spacecraft and robots to try and land/splash on Jupiter.

      Jupiter is just a (humungous) ball of gas, there is no land to land on, nor sea to splash in. Just lots and lots of atmosphere to fly through.

      Jupiter's moons on the other hand are the present and future targets of many exploratory probes.

      • Jupiter is just a (humungous) ball of gas, there is no land to land on, nor sea to splash in. Just lots and lots of atmosphere to fly through.

        Jupiter's core is under such intense heat and pressure that it is speculated that it consists of metallic hydrogen, in either liquid or solid form. This theory [nasa.gov] helps explain its powerful magnetic field.
        • Jupiter's core is under such intense heat and pressure that it is speculated that it consists of metallic hydrogen, in either liquid or solid form.

          True, but effectivly the GP is also right. Even though the core of Jupiter may be a big ball of metallic hydrogen, any probe we send will also be a big ball of solid metal long before we are near enough to observe the core.
        • Jupiter's core is under such intense heat and pressure that it is speculated that it consists of metallic hydrogen, in either liquid or solid form. This theory [nasa.gov] helps explain its powerful magnetic field.

          Sorry I couldn't RTFL, but it timed out. I'm wondering if it discusses just how close Jupiter is to becoming a star?

          If so, I wonder how many more probes (mass) we have to send to it in order to get the furnace started. ;-)

    • by linoleo (718385) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:39AM (#8087142) Journal
      I thought we never landed on Venus

      Depends on your concept of "we". The Russians had an extensive Venus orbiter/lander [dynip.com] program - absolutely thrilling stuff considering the difficulties Venus presents. These guys were pioneers, the first to land a probe on another planet. The moon [nasa.gov] as well.

      I guess its time to look forward to either landing people on Mars, or pushing spacecraft further to Mercury.

      Why adopt Dubya's limited vision? The really juicy planetary science targets are Jupiter's icy moons, and Saturn's Titan. As has been pointed out, all of these, along with Mercury, are underway [nasa.gov].

      Alas, it looks like Dubya's "mars or bust" program will drain the funding from many of the most exciting future space science missions, just as the "look mom, I'm (barely) in space" ISS did before, and the space shuttle (the Swiss army knife of spaceflight: does everything, but nothing well) before that. I'm so glad for those missions whose probes have been launched already - harder (though not unheard of) to axe those.

      to try and land/splash on Jupiter

      Been done. [nasa.gov]

      Jupiter is just a (humungous) ball of gas, there is no land to land on, nor sea to splash in.

      There are certainly going to be phase transitions to liquid and solid (aka "sea" and "land") somewhere in that humongous ball of gas. Operative question is how to design a probe to withstand the enormous pressure at the depth at which these phase transitions occur.

      Best,

      - nic
      • The science I'm most interested in is that which allows man to -stay- in space. (i.e. self-sustaining space environments, or nearly self-sustaining)

        Obviously, the intl. space station is not very interesting in this regard.

        Bush's Mars mission is more likely to approach this goal than any non-manned science mission, and as such I believe it to be a better use of funds.

        Let me be absolutely clear--
        (inter)planetary science is fascinating, but men -living- in space seems more important to me.

        (After all, it is
        • The science I'm most interested in is that which allows man to -stay- in space. (i.e. self-sustaining space environments, or nearly self-sustaining)

          This is of the utmost importance, agreed.

          Bush's Mars mission is more likely to approach this goal than any non-manned science mission, and as such I believe it to be a better use of funds.

          Here's where I disagree. Bush's proposal as it stands doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell to succeed, but for the sake of argument let's assume it does, and that in,
          • You're looking at this from a very Earth-centric viewpoint (as opposed to a species-centric viewpoint)!

            Earth != Humanity in the case that we have a permanent, self-sustaining base elsewhere in the solar system.

            My guess is that our Earth is going to hell in a handbasket, and the most likely thing to save us as a species is to be able to survive without it.

            One of Bush's goals was a permanent installation on the Moon which is certainly down the "self-sustaining" path if just for economic reasons.

            Assume tha
      • "Alas, it looks like Dubya's "mars or bust" program will drain the funding from many of the most exciting future space science missions,"

        Did you watch his speech or read the text of it?

        He talked about robotic missions like the Mercury and Europa missions and proposals along with the manned operations as well as the new Space Telescope.
        • Did you watch his speech or read the text of it?

          He talked about robotic missions like the Mercury and Europa missions and proposals along with the manned operations as well as the new Space Telescope.


          Yes, I did read the text [nasa.gov]. And no, he didn't talk about Messenger [jhuapl.edu] or Jimo [nasa.gov]. He talked about precisely three kinds of robotic probes:

          1) those which *in the past* have greatly increased our knowledge of the solar system,

          2) the Mars rovers *in the present*, and

          2) those which *in the future* will "blaze the tr
      • To see what's in store for planetary probes, have a look at this excellent index [nasa.gov] of missions. First, note the large number of operating [nasa.gov] missions - good. Now let's take a closer look at the rather smaller number of missions in development [nasa.gov]:

        Hubble SM4 is cancelled. Herschel, Planck, and Rosetta are European; Astro-E2 and Solar-B are Japanese. Most of the NASA missions are near-earth: AMS, Cindi, Glast, Gravity Probe-B, Sofia, Space Tech 5/6/7, Swift, and Twins. Stereo is a solar observatory. That leaves
  • Excerpt from spaceflightnow.com:

    "Then, as we were getting ready to send the next beep command, the vehicle decided to communicate with us in one of its nominal communications windows at which point we got a little bit of data that had very little information in it. In fact, originally we started to decode it and it was from the year 2053 and we thought 'this is not good!' Eventually we found out the data was corrupted, and we were all cheering at that point because there weren't a lot of scenarios that wou

Do not simplify the design of a program if a way can be found to make it complex and wonderful.

Working...