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Space Science

Next Mars Mission Will Look for Landing Sites 31

fenimor writes "NASA's next mission to Mars to be launched on Aug. 10, 2005 - Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter - will examine potential landing sites and provide a high-data-rate communications relay for for future surface missions. Weighing 2,180 kilograms, the spacecraft will be the largest ever to orbit Mars and with the largest telescopic camera ever sent into orbit around another planet, will reveal Mars surface features as small as a kitchen table."
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Next Mars Mission Will Look for Landing Sites

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  • Yea! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Reducer2001 ( 197985 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @04:38PM (#10528626) Homepage
    Hurray! On step closer to getting off this wet rock.
  • by wakejagr ( 781977 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @04:41PM (#10528664) Journal
    Wait, there are kitchen tables on Mars? WTF? Isn't *that* proof of life?!?!?
    • by Max von H. ( 19283 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @04:54PM (#10528797)
      Congrats, you just made me spill beer!

      Don't you just love all those funky measurement units americans spew in press releases? Volkswagens (haven't seen one in ages, how big is it again?), Rhode Island, Libraries of Congress and now freakin' kitchen tables. What's next, chevettes, twinkies, W's IQ (only for negative values)?

      • by Ayaress ( 662020 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @05:55PM (#10529431) Journal
        I once saw the distance to the moon and back measured in twinkies, the amount of energy used by a Saturn V launch in AA batteries, etc.

        As for LoC, I had a professor who had a pretty accurate opinion of using it as a unit of measurement: "The LoC is damn huge. You don't know how big it is exactly, because its just so damn huge. And its always getting bigger, so even in fifty years when our opinion of damn huge would be considered pretty damn small, it's still going to be damn big. So in effect, you use LoC as a unit to measure volumes of data so big that nobody cares anymore."
      • It's all a conspiracy to secretly switch us to metric. A kitchen table can be about a square meter. "The size of a bus" is about ten meters. and, so on. Soon, we will start seeing units like a centi-kitchen-table, and it will spell doom for imperial goodness.
      • The reality is, the instrument has resolution defined in metric units (meters), but that would be far to confusing for the american public. A suitable proxy was chosen to publicize it, the kitchen table (approximately 2 meters). This is a measurement that would be understood by at least a simple majority of the population.
      • Don't forget the Smoot []:

        A smoot is a unit of distance (or "length", as physical scientists say) used for measuring the Harvard Bridge. It is named after an MIT fraternity pledge at Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, Oliver R. Smoot (class of 1962), who in October, 1958 was rolled head over heels by his fraternity brothers to measure the length of the bridge. The smoot is equal to his height (five feet and seven inches -- 1.70 m), and the bridge's length was measured to be "364.4 smoots and one ear". Everyone wal
  • by karrde ( 853 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @04:50PM (#10528771) Homepage Journal
    Call me again in 2 years after it's taken it's first photo...

    300 days till launch
    7 months to orbital insertion, and
    6 months before it reachs a stable operational orbit.

    so it's 2006 before we get a photo, and probably mid to late 2007 before a spot is chosen... and then they'll start planning a mission... guess we're going to miss that 2010 date...
    • Actually, the next rover is already in design. It's possible to design a rover without knowing where it will land. ;)

      It's a pretty neat rover, too...too bad that the public site at JPL isn't very good: l.html []
      • I wasn't thinking rover. I guess when I read landing site I assumed they were looking for a landing site for a manned mission. And yes some planning can go up front before you know where you land. But they probably aren't going to launch w/o knowing, and then you have to get the launch windows for the transit... which are what 9mos apart?

        Like I was saying, a man on Mars by 2010 probably isn't happening.
        • launch windows for Earth to Mars low energy trajectories are 26 months apart.

          A manned mission to Mars isn't even in the planning stages yet. NASA is hoping to fly humans to the Moon before 2020, and a human mission to Mars sometime in the 2030s.

          Of course, Burt Rutan will probably beat us there! :)

          You can see NASA's Vision for Space Exploration at: ain.html

  • Correct link.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by barawn ( 25691 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @04:56PM (#10528820) Homepage
    That story would be

    here [], rather than the Cassini/Huygens probe story that was linked to.

    More proof that /.ers don't read the article, eh?
  • by spitzak ( 4019 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @05:11PM (#10528977) Homepage
    I think it would be possible to ship a kitchen table with a mars landing mission, so they really don't have to look for one!
  • Here is the correct llink Physorg [] And this is another cool stuff [] from the same place
  • by devphil ( 51341 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:00PM (#10529478) Homepage

    Weighing 2,180 kilograms, the spacecraft will be the largest ever to orbit Mars

    I think you misspelled "impact (after another management decision results in trivial math errors going uncaught)" there.

  • There are a couple of neat aspects of this orbiter. The long distance photography is cool, but I like the idea of its being a long term communications relay. That would take a lot of the transmission power requirements off of the surface probes and landers. They would just have to have a strong enough signal to get up to orbit, and then the orbiter(apparently with the help of solar power) would be able to retransmit back to Earth.
  • . Ms. Sheila Jackson Lee asked if that Mars explorer would be able to get a picture
    of that American flag that the astronauts left up there. ..

    She's in congress fokes!
    • Is this an indication of the intelligence of congress critters? Or is is an indication of the intelligence of the folks that voted for them ? or is it more likely, all of the above...
      • It's not an indication of intelligence at all (haha, but seriously it isn't).

        It is an indication of her (lack of) knowledge about mars, human spaceflight, and "current" news regarding the same topics.

        I have no idea if she's democrat, republican or independent so I claim objectivity! I'm pretty sure she got voted in on other topics than space exploration though (sincerely hope so) :)

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (3) Ha, ha, I can't believe they're actually going to adopt this sucker.