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Mars NASA Space Science

NASA Rover 'Curiosity' Set For Saturday Launch 64

Posted by Soulskill
from the wave-at-phobos-grunt-on-the-way-up dept.
arcite writes "The Mars Science Laboratory Rover 'Curiosity,' an SUV-sized rover packed to the gills with the latest scientific instruments and an innovative landing system, is set to launch tomorrow. As the heaviest and largest Mars rover to date, if it is successful in touching down on the red planet, it will be the best bet yet for NASA to find signs of life. Stuffed with turkey and burned out on holiday shopping, Geeks everywhere will be watching the skies above (or the livestream here) and wishing NASA's Curiosity godspeed!"
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NASA Rover 'Curiosity' Set For Saturday Launch

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 25, 2011 @12:08PM (#38166598)

    Just remember to not confuse feet and meters, and I think things will be ok.

  • The Landing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bjb_admin (1204494) on Friday November 25, 2011 @12:16PM (#38166692)
    Wow the landing video shows how complicated this one is.

    The whole hanging by a crane held up by a thruster module seems quite scary. Especially considering it couldn't be tested at Earth.

    Guess there will be lots of nail biting when the landing comes! Hopefully there is live telemetry for the landing.
    • Spirit and Opportunity went through the same decent procedure [youtube.com] except they were dropped from the hover instead of placed gently on the surface. They survived, so Curiosity should as well. Besides, there was lots of testing on Earth.
  • The gills? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Baloroth (2370816) on Friday November 25, 2011 @12:19PM (#38166720)

    SUV-sized rover packed to the gills

    It has gills now? I mean I knew they were considering a kitchen sink to go along with its laser, but gills? There isn't that much water on Mars, is there?

    • The author meant to say packed WITH BLUE GILLS. We are sending a bunch of fish there since we think that there is more water than all the fresh h20 on earth. So, the idea is to let blue gills grow there. If they survive, we will send some bass, crappies, a few pike, etc.
  • I hope they at least made two of them at once since they went through all that process like they used to do.
    • Re:Backups (Score:5, Informative)

      by gblackwo (1087063) on Friday November 25, 2011 @12:33PM (#38166844) Homepage
      They did in fact build two of them simultaneously, however the 2nd rover was built for testing and is not sterile enough to send to Mars without a serious teardown. There may be further reasons why the 2nd rover is unsuitable to go.
      • by 0123456 (636235)

        It's like those old SF stories where the astronaut who trains hardest for the mission is left behind on Earth because he failed some psychological testing while the slacker is sent into space instead. Hopefully the second rover doesn't chop the first up with an axe on launch day and then sneak on board in its place.

  • but this killed the martian leopard by landing on it
  • Is this thing on? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by crumpty (2517360) on Friday November 25, 2011 @12:29PM (#38166810)
    I have looked around and cannot find the answer as to whether Curiosity has a microphone on board.

    If not then why not?

    Sorry, just a pet peeve of mine, - who wouldn't want to hear the winds of Mars?

    Cheers...

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday November 25, 2011 @12:33PM (#38166840) Homepage

      I have looked around and cannot find the answer as to whether Curiosity has a microphone on board.

      If not then why not?

      Sorry, just a pet peeve of mine, - who wouldn't want to hear the winds of Mars?

      In space, no one can hear you scream.

    • by geckipede (1261408) on Friday November 25, 2011 @12:54PM (#38167026)
      Atmospheric pressure at surface level on Mars is about 1% of Earth's pressure at surface. There's not much to hear. It's not going to be totally silent, but sound will be extremely quiet and distorted.
      • by crumpty (2517360)
        Understand the pressure situation yet the velocities of the Martian winds are not insignificant. This is an inexpensive project to undertake but always gets overlooked.

        Y'all just don't get the gravity of the situation; wait, uh, different topic. >;=)

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The ill-fated polar lander had a microphone so scientists do think there's some value in recording sound on Mars. Obviously the microphone was different than anything intended to be used on earth due to the very difference in atmospheric pressure but saying that there isn't much to hear is simply wrong - there certainly are things to be heard with the right kind of microphone. I remember an interview in which one of the people involved said that it would be possible to hear the drill work on rocks and winds

    • by RDW (41497)

      If not then why not?

      So we can't hear the poor thing cry when it enters the extended mission phase:

      http://xkcd.com/695/ [xkcd.com]

    • Not to mention the screams of the invisible martians we run over using our SUV sized rover... "Hello? Please stop! You're killing us!"

  • by Tastecicles (1153671) on Friday November 25, 2011 @12:29PM (#38166812)

    Have you heard about the instrument package??

    two HD cameras
    mass spectrometers
    chemical laser
    x-ray diffractometer
    full terrestrial weather station
    radiation meter
    magnetometer
    rock abrasion tool
    thermal emission spectrometer
    Moessbauer gamma spectrometer
    panoramic multispectral camera
    microscopic imager

    They could send one of these to Titan to discover once and for all if that moon could ever be settled...

    • by 0123456 (636235) on Friday November 25, 2011 @12:40PM (#38166900)

      Have you heard about the instrument package??

      A fella could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff...

    • by wiedzmin (1269816)
      Yeah, but that would prevent them from collecting whatever it is they've found on Mars.
    • by MachDelta (704883)

      This rover probably wouldn't survive Titan very well. In the first TFA they state that Curiosity's potential landing zones are up to 45 degrees from the equator. Meaning it's not designed to withstand a martian arctic. And the warmest beach on Titan is going to be at least twice as cold as the most frigid dump on Mars.

    • full terrestrial weather station

      That's a neat trick...
      Send a probe to Mars just to tell us our weather here on Earth?

  • I don't believe they are going to find signs of life on the surface, past or present. Millions of years of sand storms would have erased any surface signs. They need to look for caves or drill or just go to the polar ice cap and be done with it.
    • by perpenso (1613749)

      I don't believe they are going to find signs of life on the surface, past or present. Millions of years of sand storms would have erased any surface signs. They need to look for caves or drill or just go to the polar ice cap and be done with it.

      Not all rock capable of bearing fossils would have been exposed during that entire timeframe. I believe the probe contains tools to "dig" a little into rocks to get past outer layers affect by erosion and surface chemistry. It seems to be a matter of finding just the right rock, not unlike hear on earth.

      • by Stan92057 (737634)
        But known life needs water,plants need water and the beat place for that on mars is the polar caps. Its just seems to me the very best place to look is being ignored for some reason. We have the tech to put a probe anywhere we want
        • by perpenso (1613749)
          The poles may be where water is found now, however there are signs of running water elsewhere on Mars. So the search for fossilized remains is not limited to the poles. I think the expectations for finding life today is pretty low. What is more plausible is that life existed in a distant era when water more distributed across the surface and Mars had more of an atmosphere. So landing near appropriately aged rocks may be more useful, or maybe where the geography suggests that water had once flowed.
  • With a name like "Curiosity" I would expect it to be bent on the destruction of life (at least the feline variety), not discovery.

  • by cstacy (534252) on Friday November 25, 2011 @01:55PM (#38167746)
    (1) Curiosity will last longer than advertised design life, headlines will be "The Nine Lives Of Curiosity" (2) Curiosity will accidentally be driven into a crater or something, headlines will be "Curiosity Killed The Cat" (3) both
  • Hourray! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Great! Another rover will be sent to Mars to collect probe the dirt and look for "signs of life". What number is this, 6? It is apparent that Mars lacks breathable air, surface water, and, more generally, life. Why not send life-seeking probes to Europa, Ganymede, Callisto, or even Titan? At least those worlds feature liquid oceans of some kind therefore there is at least a chance that they may harbor life.

    • Because 1) Those probes (even all SIX of them) have barely scratched the surface 2) as hard as it is Mars is an order of magnitude easier to get to than Europa and 3) there are plenty of folks who would just LOVE to plan and execute complex missions to the outer planets and moons but are stymied by a certain lack of funding.

      Got any extra cash you care to devote to the cause?

      • Going to Europa is harder than going to Mars, sure, but I wouldn't say an order of magnitude harder. It's not like the probe has to keep burning fuel all the way to the destination -- just shoot it towards the right trajectory and it'll coast all the way there. It just takes longer to arrive.

        BTW I was surprised to learn that the delta-v required to take a spacecraft from LEO to the surface of Mars is LESS than going from LEO to the surface of the Moon... after taking into account the fuel you save by usi
        • by Anonymous Coward

          It's not so much the delta V needed for Europe..

          The design environment is MUCH tougher. Mars is pretty benign radiation-wise.. 20krad total dose would be a typical requirement. Europa needs megarad total dose parts and even then, you might wind up with herculean efforts for shielding and fault tolerance.

          The telecom problem is harder for Europa.. you're at 5-6 AU instead of 0.5 to 2 AU, so you need either need bigger antennas (tough on a lander), or a combination lander and orbiter relay, or bigger RF powe

  • Stuffed with turkey and burned out on holiday shopping, Geeks everywhere will be watching the skies ...

    Either your definition of "everywhere" stops at the US border or you really believe Thanksgiving and Black Friday are global phenomena.

    • by c6gunner (950153)

      Either your definition of "everywhere" stops at the US border or you really believe Thanksgiving and Black Friday are global phenomena.

      Eh. Clearly the bigger mistake was assuming that geeks eat turkey, and venture offline for shopping.

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