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Mars NASA Science

New Mars Rover Rolls For the First Time 100

wooferhound writes "Like proud parents savoring their baby's very first steps, mission team members gathered in a gallery above a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to watch the Mars Curiosity rover roll for the first time. Engineers and technicians wore bunny suits while guiding Curiosity through its first steps, or more precisely, its first roll on the clean room floor. The rover moved forward and backward about 1 meter (3.3 feet). Mars Science Laboratory (aka Curiosity) is scheduled to launch in fall 2011 and land on the Red Planet in August 2012. Curiosity is the largest rover ever sent to Mars. It will carry 10 instruments that will help search an intriguing region of the Red Planet for two things: environments where life might have existed, and the capacity of those environments to preserve evidence of past life."
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New Mars Rover Rolls For the First Time

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 30, 2010 @03:23PM (#33087392)

    I think you don't quite understand the utter, sheer enormity of a project like sending a probe to another planet, let alone an autonomous rover to land on the surface. As you yourself admit, this thing is going to travel hundreds of millions of kilometres through space, burn through an atmosphere, land on the surface of a planet and -hopefully- roll away into the sunset. NASA can't test it enough IMHO. This machine needs to have triple redundancies built in - it will need them. Watch the video: this thing is going to explore the surface of another planet. Who is going to fix it, if it breaks?

    There's no thing like overweaning care when it comes to real, actual space exploration. If you don't take care, you can see a rover worth a few hundred million dollars burn up in an atmosphere or worse: just sitting there like a lame duck because someone thought it'd be a waste of time to take the appropriate care.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 30, 2010 @04:18PM (#33088488)

    Because it would still cost about as much to get each one to Mars- probably a lot more, as you'd need multiple launch vehicles unless you make them really tiny and not very capable. Also, the smaller and cheaper you make 'em, the less science each can do. The multi-probe way might be the way to go if you're just rolling around looking for sites that may have had water present in the past, but what do you do when you discover an interesting spot? With the big probe, you crank up the arm with rock grinder, scintilation spectrometer and microsope to go check it out; things I doubt you'd find in "little" probes.

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