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Space Science

NASA Releases Mars Data for Maestro 1220

The Maestro Team writes "The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has released the first Mars data update for Maestro, containing images just received from the Spirit Mars rover. Maestro is the public version of the actual tool used by the mission scientists to operate the rover. You can download Maestro and the latest Mars images from the official Maestro site, and join the developers and other users in #maestro on irc.freenode.net."
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NASA Releases Mars Data for Maestro

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  • by rayde ( 738949 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @12:12AM (#7910533) Homepage
    I'd just like to congratulate the JPL team for the success up to this point with the Spirit mission! Also thanks to JPL-Jeff and the others on #maestro who have been keeping us up to date with all of the latest news.

    Some of the channel regulars are responsible for setting up the FAQ [firasd.org] which should be one of the first stops if you have questions about Maestro.

  • by Saeed al-Sahaf ( 665390 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @12:23AM (#7910672) Homepage
    I'll say it again, but I'll try a different way to avoid the "troll / flamebait" I received last time I brought this up: How does Mars exploration do anything for society beyond improve our knowledge of esoteric things and perhaps get a few very smart scientists their Masters? Please don't get me wrong, I understand this is amazing stuff, both the technology that got us there, and the fascinating things we learn. But...

    How does this advance Man in ways that benefit the body, the Family of Man? Will it feed people or solve the mystery of AIDS? Will it allow old people to get their meds cheaper? Isn't there better ways to spend billions of dollars that benefit mankind in a more substantial way?

    The International Space Station has so much more promise to benefit our everyday life, yet it is now just a footnote, almost forgotten. We should be concentrating on ideas that benefit mankind in tangible ways.

  • by Yorrike ( 322502 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @12:36AM (#7910872) Journal
    We will eventually outgrow the Earth (some will argue we already have). And any technological advance that forwards mankind's status as a space-faring species is only beneficial to the entire species.

    Sure, it may not be solving some of the current problems, as you have brought up, but a better understanding of the universe is sure to have paybacks, even though they may not be immediate or blindingly obvious.

    If the Mars rovers do find evidence of past life, however unlinkely it is, it will change everything.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 08, 2004 @12:37AM (#7910876)
    The Mars Rover program is the most recent expression of an old human need, to explore and to understand. Your arguments could be used to disparage all pure science, pure mathematics, and other human pursuits without immediate practical application, but they are much of what makes us human. Along the way, technology gets advanced in ways that produce the famous "spinoff" that eventually improve the lives of many people.

    Think of the advances in autonomous robotics that are on display with the rovers! These little beings are out there, 10 light minutes away, and able to handle many situations for themselves safely. Robots with capabilities like these will help with oil recovery in the deep ocean, work in nuclear power plants, assist surgeons, and many other activities.

    In my opinion, and of many others, the ISS is a white elephant, that has no purpose to speak of at present. It is diverting huge amounts of funds from much more important scientific pursuits, like robotic solar system exploration. On to Mars, the asteroids, and beyond!
    My $.02
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 08, 2004 @01:25AM (#7911667)
    *Defense* spending gave us the Internet -- and thereby an unbelievable boost w/ communications that benefits all humanitarian endeavors.

    That said, spending a fraction of that on efforts to increase human knowledge and understanding (rather than bombs and bodies) is even more likely to have a profound positive effect on culture and our species.
  • by spanklin ( 710953 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @01:34AM (#7911747)
    Believe me, astronomers do think about this -- why do we do what we do? What benefit do we give society? I will give some of the standard answers. The first (that others have covered) is spinoff technology. Digital cameras contain technology (CCDs) that astronomers have been using for 20 years or so now. X-ray machines at airports, MRIs, etc. came from astronomy/physics. Some other types of medical imaging use similar techniques (and software) that radio astronomers use. The second is that humans have this insatiable curiosity about the universe around us. We spend money on these explorations because the public wants to know! Astronomy stories make the cover of the NY Times, CNN, and your local news outlet not because the average person derives any benefit out of knowing the value of Hubble's constant, but because people are happy to know that someone, somewhere is trying to find out where we all came from and why we are here. Personally, I and some of my colleagues feel that it is important to use the appeal of astronomy to generate an interest in science in general. You suck people in by showing them pictures of planetary nebulae, and when they are awed by the pretty colors, you slip in some teaching about electromagnetism. NASA spends 1 - 2% of their budget on education and outreach efforts (small fraction, large amount of real dollars). They use the power that astronomy has to generate interest with people who normally don't care about science to try and impress on them that science and technology are good. So you can argue that the success of NASA missions is indirectly responsible for keeping the federal funding for *all* sciences at a reasonable level. Now you just have to decide if you think federal funding of any science is worthwhile.
  • by rayde ( 738949 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @01:45AM (#7911804) Homepage
    since the junk posts are moderated to -1, and most people read comments that are only moderated +1 or higher, it's not that big of a problem. it is a pretty stupid thing for people to do though, but don't let it discourage you!! A lot of people are very impressed with the work your team has put into this!!
  • by Pavan_Gupta ( 624567 ) <`pg8p' `at' `virginia.edu'> on Thursday January 08, 2004 @01:53AM (#7911855)
    JPL-Jeff, don't be discouraged by the nonsense posted on slashdot from time to time -- your message is easily caught from amongst the "crapflood." Regardless, trust in the slashdot moderators, hopefully they'll keep things in check.

    Moreover, trust that your link will be getting all the attention it needs. I noticed your download links far up in the discussion (inside the crapflood taht is), and I'm sure others have as well.

    Hopefully the moderators will be on the ball tonight -- at least they can easily see where the spam is.

    No worries though, you've got an awesome piece of software, and I'm as eager as anybody to see it in action.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 08, 2004 @02:59AM (#7912279)
    The most obvious and direct answer to the question asked is that it produces the tools and techniques to expand the dominion of Man in much the same way that the first primitive rafts made offshore resources and eventually the entire Earth available to Man.

    The question you are intimating: "why should space exploration be a priority when people here on Earth are still starving, dying and living in mistery?" Is much more challenging and I don't know that I can offer a really good answer except that, as a species, we have an urge to explore and expand and that, as priorities go, exploration ranks a lot higher than say bombing third-world countries.

    To put things in perspective, the US military spends the equivalent of entire cost of the Beagle 2 mission every 45 minutes and NASA's yearly budget every two weeks. How does that expenditure contribute to the advancement of Man or even the specific men it is ostensibly in aid of?

    I agree that priorities are messed up. I just disagree about which ones.
  • by Aryawhat ( 706371 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @03:01AM (#7912288)
    How does this advance Man in ways that benefit the body, the Family of Man? Will it feed people or solve the mystery of AIDS? Will it allow old people to get their meds cheaper? Isn't there better ways to spend billions of dollars that benefit mankind in a more substantial way?

    Okay, I'll bite. I'm seeing a stream of "What use is this?" and "big deal, more red rocks" comments on the Rover topics, and I can't even imagine where these are coming from:

    • If a big meteorite/virus/climate change/radiation storm/solar instability/nuclear catastrophe/nanotech grey goo/ was to wipe out the entire human population on Earth, the human race isn't going to come back. Forever, for all of eternity (or at least the heat death of the universe, which is what current theory predicts as the human race's equivalent of dying of old age). Surely we should pay *something* to take out an insurance policy against this scenario? A policy which aims for human settlements on Mars?
    • Getting to these settlements in incredibly hard, and there's no way we can suddenly decide to do it one day and make them happen the next year. It'll take large number of intermediate steps, including unmanned missions, $400m rovers which produce photographs of red rocks, and, when we can, manned missions.
    • I know you aren't saying this, but to those who call these photographs "boring red rocks", they are incredibly exciting to anyone with any sense of what they represent. For one, we've had to have 2.5 billion years of evolution before any life form on Earth is able to see them. Their size, shape, distribution, constitution, layout ask a thousand questions, some of which the Rover will answer. These answers will help in resolving important scientific questions of meaning to planetology here on Earth.
    • Even if none of these reasons carry weight, we should do it, to paraphrase a mountaneer, because Mars is there. The purpose of life cannot be to just be to spend everything we have in finding the cure to AIDS and cancer and making it longer. What do we do with this longer life? I cannot imagine a more inspiring way to spend it than to find adventure in the rest of the universe. NASA keeps doing these things which make me proud to be human, and by spending your tax dollars to support it, you are creating and participating in this adventure.
    Finally, I'm in India, not the US, so you could argue that it's not my tax money which is paying for this. That is true, but NASA has added to my life in many ways, from the days when as a small kid, I stayed awake nights listening for news updates on the Apollo 11 mission (India didn't have TV back then), to ogling these marvellous Mars photographs and imagining I'm a space traveller using Maestro to investigate a new planet. If someone knows a way a non-American can pay NASA back by sending over pittances when I can, I'll be happy to find a way to do it.

FORTUNE'S FUN FACTS TO KNOW AND TELL: A giant panda bear is really a member of the racoon family.