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Mars NASA Space Science Technology

Curiosity Starts Driving 35

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-run-over-any-cats dept.
littlesparkvt tips news that the Curiosity Mars rover began driving today at Bradbury Landing in Gale Crater. The rover rolled forward about 4.5 meters, then stopped, rotated 120 degrees, and rolled another 2.5 meters. The article has a picture of the rover's tracks in the Martian dust, and you can browse the image gallery or raw image feed for more. Matt Heverly, the rover's lead driver, confirmed that the mobility system is functioning perfectly in the lead-up to its first major land trek. "Curiosity will spend several more days of working beside Bradbury Landing, performing instrument checks and studying the surroundings, before embarking toward its first driving destination approximately 1,300 feet (400 meters) to the east-southeast." Reader redletterdave adds news that NASA has released an enhanced video of Curiosity's descent from space, which is pretty cool to watch. There was also some minor bad news yesterday; one of the wind speed sensors on the REMS weather instruments was permanently damaged during landing. Emily Lakdawalla explains,"The reason there were two is that it helped triangulate wind speed and also improve accuracy of wind speed measurements when one of the booms is aimed windward or leeward. So the quality of the wind speed data will be harmed, but there will still be wind speed data."
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Curiosity Starts Driving

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  • by OhSoLaMeow (2536022) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:30PM (#41087731)
    Will it turn off its turn signal?
    • by daremonai (859175)
      I'm more concerned about whether it will be talking on its cell phone (ok, X band radio) while driving. I'd hate to see it crash because of distracted driving.
  • by neoshroom (324937) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:44PM (#41087907)
    Tragically, it ran over a cat, who perished.
    • by Tablizer (95088)

      it ran over a cat, who perished.

      It had to in order to end the pussy riots, lest they damage another weather vane.

  • I thought that Curiosity was nuclear [slashdot.org]. What's the point of having a plutonium battery if it's not gonna do a clean 88 miles per hour?
    • Re:Uh... what? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @07:12PM (#41088267)

      The Pu power source makes about 100W of electricity and keep the rover warm. The purpose of slow speed is not to hit things, not to use lot of power, AND because that is completely unnecessary.

      And your reference to "Back to the Future" is getting old.

      • by wierd_w (1375923)

        It just needs to get back to 1985, where it will be hip and edgy again!

      • by neoshroom (324937) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @07:29PM (#41088441)

        The purpose of slow speed is not to hit things, not to use lot of power, AND because that is completely unnecessary. And your reference to "Back to the Future" is getting old.

        I read your reply as "Roads ... where we're going, we don't need roads."

      • by dywolf (2673597)

        Just because you kids dont appreciate classic movies, we're supposed to stop? Stuff that.

        And who modded Buzz "AC" Killington here as insightful? Holy crap. Someone is just slapping that tag on everything, the way gammy does Frank's Red Hot Sauce.

  • Aren't we there yet?
  • by game kid (805301) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @07:27PM (#41088425) Homepage

    There was also some minor bad news yesterday; one of the wind speed sensors on the REMS weather instruments was permanently damaged during landing. Emily Lakdawalla explains,"The reason there were two is that it helped triangulate wind speed and also improve accuracy of wind speed measurements when one of the booms is aimed windward or leeward. So the quality of the wind speed data will be harmed, but there will still be wind speed data."

    Minor indeed; that any part of that rover is still functional after that landing (and the US's perverse budget) is a testament to the general badassery of the engineers, programmers, and builders behind that thing.

    • Re:Minor indeed! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Tablizer (95088) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @08:15PM (#41088949) Homepage Journal

      Most of the rover was built during the minor boom years* of the mid 2000's. Thus, budget was not really the same issue as it is today. But I agree it's amazing that more hasn't gone wrong with the complexity of both the rover and the landing involved.

      A sky-crane was used instead of a Viking-style landing to avoid kicking up too much debris near the vehicle.

      However, most of the thrust would then be underneath, not to the side like the sky-crane gave. Thus, less vehicle-deck-directed pebbles would be kicked up it seems if they did a Viking-style landing, but more (local) dust.

      Being they speculate flying pebbles caused the wind-sensor damage based on pebbles found on deck, perhaps the Viking approach is not so bad after all, relatively speaking. A dust bath may be better than a pebble bath.

      * "Bubble years" may be a better description.
         

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        In the various videos etc it looked like the thrusters on the crane were angled outward, if so I imagine it would kick up less stuff in the landing zone itself than landing on top of a torch... Either way you're getting pebbles. Irregularly-shaped rocks bouncing off irregularly-shaped surfaces can exhibit all kinds of crazy behavior. The fuel filter in my 300SD developed a dent with accompanying pinhole which from what I can tell is due to rock damage, and it's not mounted particularly low, but my county sh

        • by Tablizer (95088)

          The landing area there appears relatively smooth such that there's little for debris to bounce off, at least until the thrusters blow away the top soil, but then you have problems either way. Then again, it's hard to know what's at a landing spot until you get there.

          I just wonder if the complexity of a crane couldn't be put into protective covers instead.

  • My /. prophecy came true:

    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3045879&cid=40980565 [slashdot.org]

    The rover is doing donuts:

    http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/PIA16095_Hazcamtracks-br.jpg [nasa.gov]

    For my next prediction, the rover will find another Mitt Romney tax haven, on Mars.

  • I hope it's not calling home and driving at the same time, it can get a ticket.

  • All right, Curiosity IS getting itself ready to roll, cool! Looks like everything (except the windspeed instrument detector) works as designed, so now it's gonna be at least 2 years of steady data and discovery constantly streaming into scientific centers AND homes all over the world! In so many ways, the human race is at such an important time in it's history. It certainly qualifies as "a time of great learning". I can't wait to see and learn what happens next!
  • Good. Now send it to "unstick" the other rover...
  • Watch out for that stop sign!!!!!

    DAAAAAAAaaadD! It's fine!

    OH, you mean the Mars probe.

  • I thought curiosity killed the cat...
  • When are we sending a tow truck to unstick that other rover, maybe refill the tires... Wash the windows^Wsolar panels...

  • Roll out!

A CONS is an object which cares. -- Bernie Greenberg.

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