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Mars NASA Science

NASA Satellite Looks For Response From Dead Mars Craft 152

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-dead-jim dept.
coondoggie writes "NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter will next week make a number of passes over the presumed dead Phoenix Mars Lander on the surface of the planet and listen for what the space agency called possible, though improbable, radio transmissions. Odyssey will pass over the Phoenix landing site about 10 times this month and two longer listening tries in February and March trying to determine if the craft survived Martian winter and try to lock onto a signal and gain information about the lander’s status."
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NASA Satellite Looks For Response From Dead Mars Craft

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  • by jhoegl (638955) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:52AM (#30739002)
    I wish we took 50% of the money given to the military and put it into space. We would be at Jupiter right now.
    • by snmpkid (93151) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:53AM (#30739028)

      Or there would be 50% more dead space junk on jupiter now

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Or both. No success without failures. Or are Spirit and Opportunity not worth the landers that disappeared?

        • Another way to put it, since half the spacecraft disappeared, is to ask if the missions would be worth twice as much money.

          I'd say yes.

      • by Drethon (1445051)
        A heck of a lot more dead junk than that. The military budget is about 40x the budget of NASA accordign to one site. So there would be 2000% more dead junk, hopefully 2000% more live junk too :)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Afforess (1310263)
        The Rover's were originally 90 day missions back in 2002. That's all they were designed for. This is the 7th year of operation. Frankly, I'm impressed. If the military was as efficient as our space program, tanks from WWII would still be in service.
        • by jpmorgan (517966) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @12:49PM (#30739984) Homepage

          While I agree with your sentiment about the longevity of the rovers, I'm a little confused about your tank comment. The military has no problem using and maintaining old equipment when it's good for the job... the famous example of the B-52 comes to mind. Military equipment tends to go obsolete faster than robot probes, because it doesn't take years (sometimes decades) to deploy a new model.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by wcrowe (94389)

            Good point. Another example: the military still uses the Browning .50 caliber machine gun, which has changed little since it first went into service in the 1920's.

          • Listing more examples may be redundant, but it's worth mentioning that the U-2 spyplane has been in service for over 50 years because it's still the right tool for the job. If it ain't broke...
        • As a side note, the HMMWV's we used in Iraq were refurbs from '85. But agreed, I wish the military had half the efficiency of NASA and received half the budget.
          • by uncqual (836337)
            Although I support the space program in general, comparing NASA and the military is like comparing Red Delicious Apples and Road Apples. Both are actually impressive organizations (and, also, in some ways unimpressive) - but that's about where the similarity ends.

            When discussing the "efficiency" of NASA, consider the claimed benefits and costs of the shuttle when serious development funding began vs. what it, now in its dying days, actually delivered. As I can quickly recall, the greatest legacy of the s
        • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @01:11PM (#30740314)

          No, the mission was designed to last 90 days (and probably more for budgetary reasons than anything else). The rovers were designed to last as long as possible while still fulfilling the mission goals and staying below the weight and size limits. If you need a high cost, high risk, extreme environment piece of equipment to last 90 days, you design it to last for decades. I'm not saying 7 years on Mars isn't impressive, but the idea that engineers expected the rovers to drop dead after 90 days is inaccurate.

          As for the military not being as efficient, the space program uses one off engineering projects to solve unique challenges. Each rover and lander is designed specifically for the exact environment they will be placed in and is engineered nearly from the ground up. It produces amazing results but it is not economically efficient. The difference is, compared to the cost of getting a rover to mars, the cost of the rover itself is almost negligible so you may as well over engineer it and make sure the money you paid for the flight out there was worth it.

          I'd love to see what the space program would do with twice or three times its current budget, it's a crying shame the way it's pushed to the back burner the way it is now. When was the last time a genuinely revolutionary space concept was flown by NASA? The first shuttle launch? Lots of people have ideas that can be made to work, ideas that could make space travel as cheap and common as Arthur C Clark ever envisioned it, we just haven't put the R&D into turning ideas into technology.

          • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @02:38PM (#30741664) Homepage

            No, the mission was designed to last 90 days (and probably more for budgetary reasons than anything else)... I'm not saying 7 years on Mars isn't impressive, but the idea that engineers expected the rovers to drop dead after 90 days is inaccurate.

            Actually it kinda is, not because they engineered the rover to only last that long (obviously you're right and they engineered it to be as robust as possible to survive on Mars), but because they thought the rover's solar panels would be too covered in dust to operate after that.

            I still remember NASA putting out releasing saying how pleasantly surprised they were that the Martian wind turned out to be substantial enough to blow dust off the panels, and so the mission could extend past its original 90 day scope.

            The fact that they continued the mission shows it wasn't budget constraints that limited it to 90 days... at least not the operations budget. I guess it was related to budget in the sense that this constrained them to only using solar power, and 90 days was just how long they thought a solar-powered rover could run.

            • The fact that they continued the mission shows it wasn't budget constraints that limited it to 90 days... at least not the operations budget.

              While budget constraints didn't limit it to 90 days, ongoing operations do impact the budget. The operators don't work for free, and neither do the guys supporting the specialized hardware the operators are using. The rooms the operators are in don't come free either.

              All those man-hours have to be paid from somewhere, and that somewhere is the budgets of othe

              • by Chris Burke (6130)

                While budget constraints didn't limit it to 90 days, ongoing operations do impact the budget.

                Yeah "operations budget" kinda implies that operations are not free.

        • by maxume (22995)

          They were designed to almost certainly last 90 days, not to just last 90 days. I'm pretty sure that come day 91, they already had the budget/authorization to continue to operate the ground side, it was not a surprise that they were still going.

        • If the military was as efficient as our space program, tanks from WWII would still be in service.

          We're still using a bomber from 1955, [wikipedia.org] and we're planning to keep using it until 2040. Is that good?

        • The Rover's were not designed for only 90 day missions... they were designed to guarantee 90 days. That's a different story. (I am not saying that what they have achieved is not a huge thing... it is. But it is incorrect to say that they have been designed to last 90 days.)
        • What are you talking about? The IraqWarII was only supposed to last 6 months and its going into year 7 too. Not to mention its sister war, AfghanistanWarI is on year 9 after being almost completely ignored. Talk about efficiency! So there!

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by tokul (682258)

          tanks from WWII would still be in service.

          War was not won by producing state of art equipment. It was won by producing lost of it in fast and cheap way. T34 and Shermans were not the best tanks in WWII. State of art was Tiger 2 and Germans lost.

        • by emilper (826945)

          WWII tanks could be in service, except they would be useless now. It's not about robustness, but about usability :P

        • by Urza9814 (883915)

          Would you _want_ tanks from WWII to still be in service? They'd be dropping like flies if they ever got put into a real battle.

      • by scorp1us (235526)

        How can junk ever be "on" a gas giant? Isn't "in" the right preposition?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I wish we took 50% of the money given to the military and put it into space. We would be at Jupiter right now.

      TERRORIST!

    • Yikes, money in space is dangerous... especially coins.

    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @12:10PM (#30739346) Journal

      I don't see how a rocket with a payload of nothing but dollar bills is going to get us any closer to Jupiter.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by lopgok (871111)
      Actually, if we would have funded Project Orion, we would have gone to Saturn in the early 1960's. See http://www.ted.com/talks/george_dyson_on_project_orion.html [ted.com] among other references.
    • by Wyatt Earp (1029)

      No, in the US at least, Congress would have taken the majority of the money and thrown it towards welfare programs. Which is what they did that cut Apollo and limited the Manned Orbital Laboratory and limited the Shuttle, and cut all sorts of other NASA plans.

    • by Kamokazi (1080091)

      I wish everyone would get along in the world so we didn't have to put any money into the military.

      Reality sucks.

      • by sznupi (719324)

        How does that lead to the US waste on military being not far from half of planetary military budget?

        • by Nathrael (1251426)
          War is an exchange of blood and money. You can substitute one for the other. Which would you prefer to lose?
    • but we wouldn't (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Shivetya (243324)

      and that is the problem. I always cringe when I see people toss out IRAQ IRAQ IRAQ as if that explains the current state of NASA's budget.

      Face it, NASA does not generate votes. The only science that generates votes is that which well funded special interest groups support. The US could spend ZERO on its military and the space budget would be still be shit.

      If anything the real science people want is how to get something for nothing, if not that how to get more from someone else

    • We're already on our way (or will be in 2011, I hope). See http://juno.wisc.edu/ [wisc.edu]
    • Jupiter isn’t solid, and wouldn’t be very hospitable to anything we sent into it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by 172pilot (913197)
      I love the space program too, but if we did that, we'd be a territory of China right now, and all living a communist life with no space program..
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by jmorris42 (1458) *

      > I wish we took 50% of the money given to the military and put it into space.

      You are making a very silly assumption. You assume the military budget just goes down a black hole. It doesn't. We get two benefits from that money. First is tech, probably more tech than NASA has delivered and NASA has done some good stuff. But look how much tech came out of two World Wars and the Cold War (WWIII in everything but body count) and compare it to NASA. But by far the bigger benefit is that Western Civilizat

      • You are making a very silly assumption. You assume the military budget just goes down a black hole. It doesn't. We get two benefits from that money. First is tech, probably more tech than NASA has delivered and NASA has done some good stuff. But look how much tech came out of two World Wars and the Cold War (WWIII in everything but body count) and compare it to NASA.

        Not to mention that a great of tech that NASA uses has its origins in military budgets. Pressure suits? Owe a great deal to research into sui

      • by Chris Burke (6130)

        You are making a very silly assumption. You assume the military budget just goes down a black hole.

        And you seem to be assuming that "reduce military spending by 50%" is the same as "disband the military and leave the nation unguarded".

        Can you see the Thousand Year Reich sending unmanned probes to the outer solar system?

        Yes, I can definitely see that. I can see them aggressively pursuing manned missions as well. Probably with the benefit of lots of knowledge of things like the effects of radiation exposure

        • by jmorris42 (1458) *

          > The Nazis sucked, but they weren't "barbarians". Germans had a thirst for knowledge;

          If it had military value. And had they won we would have quickly fallen into a Hell on Earth scenario where there wouldn't have been much pure science going on.

          > Al Qaeda's attack was nasty and worthy of retribution, but it didn't threaten the existence of our nation at all.

          Fraid it does. They are still learning and adapting as we mostly remain on defense. Eventually they are going to learn how to really hurt us.

    • by emilper (826945)

      You already got to Jupiter 30 years ago ... the point is to get there and have something to do besides gawking at the beautiful colors.

      AFAIK, all the interesting (like those that produces more than pretty pictures in fake colors of distant gas bags) US space projects were done, or funded, by the US military; looking at what kind of projects they finance, my bet is the next big vehicle will come either from private companies, or from the US Air Force or Navy.

    • No, we'd be too busy going to the mosque 5x a day. Islamists hate the space program.

    • Maybe the plan to make NASA part of the military will make that happen.
  • Aside from the craft that was splattered across the Martian Landscape, is this the shortest lived mission to Mars so far?

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      You're forgetting the huge number that just plain didn't reach Mars.

    • by MBGMorden (803437)

      The mission wasn't THAT short lived. The lander transmitted for 125 days before it died. Compared to Spirit and Opportunity yeah, that's a brief little period, but the mission wasn't a total failure.

      The first lander that the Russians sent died within 1 minute.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sznupi (719324)

      Catastrophic failures during descent didn't really reach Mars...

      The shortest lived mission that touched down was the very first lander - Soviet Mars 3 probe. Stopped transmitting after around 20 seconds (but the data that were sent and external observation suggest it had the misfortune of landing in extreme dust storm)

      Phoenix Mars Lander is no failure. It was known it will cease operations quickly (might even have been under CO2 icecap during winter)

  • godspeed, brave little robot!
  • by MRe_nl (306212) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @12:12PM (#30739372)

    Frank Herbert's prophecies will be seen for what they truly are, and L. Ron shall be proven false, and the Fremen formerly known as Al Qaida will start broadcasting improbable messages from Mars.

  • over the presumed dead Phoenix Mars Lander on the surface of the planet and listen for what the space agency called possible, though improbable, radio transmissions.

    In other words, since its presumed dead, they're listening for the PULSE Beacon!

    Haha, Aren't I clever?

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No.

  • Great. Now we're flying over alien planets looking for signs of artificial terrestrial life.

  • by rehtonAesoohC (954490) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @12:32PM (#30739692) Journal
    The message NASA will receive probably won't be sent from the dead Mars lander... most likely it will be something like:

    ...going to blow up Earth. It obstructs my view of Venus!

  • That headline... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by clone53421 (1310749) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @12:38PM (#30739800) Journal

    NASA Satellite Looks For Response From Dead Mars Craft

    If they knew it was dead, they wouldn’t be looking for a response from it.

    • I'm not dead yet....

      I think I'll go for a walk!

    • by evilviper (135110)

      Every word in every sentence doesn't have to be 100% grammatically correct you joyless waste of empty space... Everyone, everywhere, perfectly understood what the headline meant (if they know ANY background about the situation at all, that is).

      • Every word in every sentence doesn't have to be 100% grammatically correct

        It wasn’t a grammatical mistake.

  • I bet it initially smashed through a porous structure and entered an underground river which spans a martian continent. Now it's popping up closer to the surface and can penetrate the thin ice it is trapped under! I could also suggest it is being carried by aliens, but that's boring if you're a scientist. Wait.. I'm not a scientist. But I'd like to be one, so there.
  • Batteries cold, can't start, has anybody out there got cables, I need a boost.

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