Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Mars NASA Space Science

NASA Mars Rover Spots Its Ultimate Destination 101

Posted by kdawson
from the know-the-place-for-the-first-time dept.
coondoggie writes "It has been years in the making but NASA said its Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has captured a new view of the rim of the planet's Endeavour crater, perhaps the rover's ultimate destination. The Mars rover set out for Endeavour in September 2008 after spending two years exploring the Victoria crater. NASA says Endeavour is 13 miles across, some 25 times wider than Victoria crater, and could offer scientists more insight into the red planet's makeup."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

NASA Mars Rover Spots Its Ultimate Destination

Comments Filter:
  • Re:Shazam! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Monday May 03, 2010 @09:58PM (#32080622)

    This is exciting. The knowledge contained within this crater will feed millions and advance the knowledge nessesary for the survival of the Human Race by many years, and reveal the secrets of oil spill clean up as an added bonus!

    Um, not exactly. Though the discoveries made there could free the minds of millions of people and entice some of the brightest people on the planet to focus their talents on space sciences. Surely that has some value, too.

  • by KibibyteBrain (1455987) on Monday May 03, 2010 @10:50PM (#32080914)
    Except the majority of the cost is fixed in the rockets to escape Earth and the spacecraft to reach mars, so a longer lasting robot is always better so long as it remains a minority of the cost of the exploration system.
  • Re:Shazam! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brett Buck (811747) on Monday May 03, 2010 @11:18PM (#32081106)

    There are still some people who believe that human achievement is a zero-sum game. Idiots, we call them.

  • Re:Shazam! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Monday May 03, 2010 @11:28PM (#32081184) Homepage Journal

    if they found life, numbnuts.

    The remains of a sperm whale and a bowl of petunias in the bottom of Endeavor crater would certainly create some interest.

    But the long drives by Opportunity have actually been pretty interesting. It has found several meteors. It has also been able to study an increasingly wide area of mars. A long baseline helps a lot in science and I suspect data from Opportunity will be used decades into the future.

    Also if not life, then maybe evidence of life elsewhere. A squatter probe (like phoenix and the vikings) would last longer on mars than on Earth.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @12:10AM (#32081474) Homepage

    Far better engineering would have had these things come in at 40% of the cost and had them die on day 97. Then we could have flown more and more of them.

    Ah, what a fanciful imagination you have of how engineering works.

    Where engineers can guarantee operation in a highly variable, largely unknown environment for X days, yet also nail tolerances so tightly they can predict parts will fail in 1.1X days. And save lots of money in the process, somehow. Even though relative to your own imaginary number the rovers we actually got cost 2.5x, yet lasted more than 25x.

    The rovers were engineered as robustly as possible within the weight budget, simply to ensure that they would work at all on the surface of Mars, and therefore had the potential to last for a very long time. This is obviously a win if you think the goal was to have the maximum number of operational rovers on Mars at any given time. But the reason they haven't launched more has nothing to do with rover cost. It's because they don't have the budget to expand operations to cover more; NASA is already busy with this already vastly expanded mission.

    The only reason a 90 day mission plan came up was because that was their very rough estimate of how long the solar panels could supply sufficient power before they became too covered in dust. They had always hoped they could continue the mission past that and had contingency plans for the operations budget to that effect, and were very pleasantly surprised that their assumptions were wrong. When the Martian wind turned out to be much stronger than expected, enough to blow dust off of the rovers' solar panels, that constraint on the rovers' life span was removed and their robust engineering could pay off.

    Executive summary: The only serious mistake made in the planning, research and design of the rover mission was in predicting a short lifespan for the rovers, and that mistake turned out to be in the mission's and the taxpayer's favor.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @01:34AM (#32081920)

    The GP is not making an argument for careful engineering, he's making an argument for risky cutting edge engineering.

    He's not saying YOUR laptop should fail after the three day warranty, because that's not the requirements or what a consumer wants from a laptop.

    He's saying a 90 day lifetime rover should die on day 100 having a 10 day safety margin and not a six year safety margin.

    At the time, the spirit (so to speak) was for faster, better, cheaper. But we didn't get faster or cheaper from rover, we got better, just as usual.

    The reward for dying on day 100 after a successful mission would have been to launch more rover and more rovers.

    The punishment for lasting six years is that we've sent no more rovers up there. And the next rover is not the size of a toaster or trashcan, it's the size of an SUV and will be canceled.

    Instead of grabbing the public's attention with a series of rovers, we've bored the public to death with the same version of Johnny 5 rolling around not doing much of anything as far as the public can tell for six years.

    Grandparent is right, these things were way overbuilt.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @08:07AM (#32083414)

    Yes because those savings will really start to add up as we mass produce rovers.

  • What. The. Fuck. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tacokill (531275) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @09:31AM (#32084062)
    In all of my life, I am not sure I have ever read a more cynical post than you just wrote.

    You sir, are the very definition of a crab in a barrel. Do you know what happens to crabs in a barrel when one of them tries to escape? The others pull him back down into the barrel.

    Instead of celebrating the overwhelming success of the program, you denigrate it by saying it was too successful. Making something fail because of some artificial time horizon is just....well...stupid. My god man, don't you have ANY pride in success?

    ...or are all successes just failures waiting to happen???
  • by r_jensen11 (598210) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @09:43AM (#32084194)

    The GP is not making an argument for careful engineering, he's making an argument for risky cutting edge engineering.

    He's not saying YOUR laptop should fail after the three day warranty, because that's not the requirements or what a consumer wants from a laptop.

    He's saying a 90 day lifetime rover should die on day 100 having a 10 day safety margin and not a six year safety margin.

    At the time, the spirit (so to speak) was for faster, better, cheaper. But we didn't get faster or cheaper from rover, we got better, just as usual.

    The reward for dying on day 100 after a successful mission would have been to launch more rover and more rovers.

    The punishment for lasting six years is that we've sent no more rovers up there. And the next rover is not the size of a toaster or trashcan, it's the size of an SUV and will be canceled.

    Instead of grabbing the public's attention with a series of rovers, we've bored the public to death with the same version of Johnny 5 rolling around not doing much of anything as far as the public can tell for six years.

    Grandparent is right, these things were way overbuilt.

    Except that the two scenarios aren't mutually exclusive- we should have continued to send more robots over there while having the robots last longer than we ever expected.

The economy depends about as much on economists as the weather does on weather forecasters. -- Jean-Paul Kauffmann

Working...