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Mars Moon NASA Robotics Space Science Hardware

NASA Outlines Plan For Next-Gen Space Robots 89

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-than-meets-the-eye dept.
CWmike writes "Imagine a team of robots — some rolling on wheels, some walking on two legs — working alongside astronauts on the surface of Mars, scouting previously unseen locations, measuring the parameters of a new base or constructing a building. Now picture astronauts driving across the Martian surface in a vehicle. When the astronauts get out and begin their work, they can flip a switch to turn the vehicle into an autonomous robot that goes off to undertake projects on the planet. Whatever work the next generation of NASA-developed space robots does, it will be done in conjunction with their human counterparts. Terry Fong, director of NASA's intelligent robotics group, said that's the image that a lot of the US space agency's engineers have in mind as they work on the new robotic rovers. In comparison, the Mars rovers on the Red Planet have been working alone for years. 'We're working on a new use of these robots — robots to support human exploration,' Fong said. 'NASA is now thinking, "How do you go about sending humans to the moon or Mars or elsewhere? How can you use the combination of humans and robots to do exploration better?" I think it's a really, really fundamentally different approach.' Fong said he's hopeful that the next-generation robotic rovers will arrive on the moon or on an asteroid within five to 10 years."
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NASA Outlines Plan For Next-Gen Space Robots

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  • Nope... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) on Friday May 07, 2010 @01:14PM (#32130470)

    The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall mountain.

    No, they will be fought with computers. [imdb.com] And when the numbers are calculated, people on the appropriate side will be directed to the Death Chambers.

  • by downix (84795) on Friday May 07, 2010 @01:15PM (#32130482) Homepage
    Why would we when we have so [wikipedia.org] many [wikipedia.org] options [wikipedia.org] we [wikipedia.org] can [wikipedia.org] use [wikipedia.org] instead? [wikipedia.org]
  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Friday May 07, 2010 @01:34PM (#32130820) Homepage Journal

    A manned mission gets simpler and cheaper if it doesn't have to go in and out of the Martian gravity well. Land the tele-operated machines on a one-way trip, keep the human operators in orbit. No life-support mass to lift off the surface, no fuel mass to lift the life-support mass off the surface, no deadweight mass of rocketry to lift both off the surface (and accelerate them to escape velocity!), all of which need to be multiplied by lots and lots to get the total launch pad mass on Earth.

  • by Nyeerrmm (940927) on Friday May 07, 2010 @03:50PM (#32133096)

    While those quotes are correct, and I agree with them, they don't disagree with what I'm saying.

    There was a mismatch between goals and funds. You can interpret this to mean that they need more money, but hoping that Congress opens the purse-strings for something that doesn't get many votes isn't a proper plan for exploration. NASA has funding, they just need to use it more wisely. Something like Constellation is only going to happen with Apollo-level funding, which while as you and I know would be very good and not too draining, this is not politically viable.

    And the comment about a lack of mismanagement is referring to the program managers at NASA. They were given a task, and they performed admirably to do the best they could do at what was an impossible task. The mismanagement I refer to is from the political leadership going back 30 years. Post-shuttle NASA history is littered with cancelled programs that attempted to do ridiculously hard things without getting the basics right. The Constellation program (which never really sought to fulfill the goals set out by Bush, who never called Griffin on his shenanigans) was only feasible under Bush's promise to get more money out of Congress -- a promise he never came through on and didn't try very hard for. Griffin took him at his word and never had a descope option to handle the inevitable problems when that didn't go smoothly. All of this leaves us trying to build something to go to the moon on a shoestring budget when NASA seems to have forgotten how to build a manned spacecraft at all.

    We need to step out of the shadow of Apollo and figure out what actually works under modern budgets with modern political pressures.

It was kinda like stuffing the wrong card in a computer, when you're stickin' those artificial stimulants in your arm. -- Dion, noted computer scientist

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