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Mars Space Science

Aerial Drone To Hunt For Life On Mars 152

astroengine writes "What if the Martian terrain is too rugged for a rover to traverse? How do we study surface features that are too small for an orbiter to resolve? If selected by NASA, the Aerial Regional-Scale Environment Surveyor (ARES) could soar high above the Martian landscape, getting a unique birds-eye view of the Red Planet. Its primary mission is to sniff out potential microbial-life-generating gases like methane, but it would also be an ideal reconnaissance vehicle to find future landing sites for a manned expedition. Prototypes of the rocket-powered drone have been successfully flown here on Earth, so will we see ARES on Mars any time soon?"
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Aerial Drone To Hunt For Life On Mars

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  • Rocket-powered? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Monday November 15, 2010 @05:09PM (#34235630)
    Wouldn't something less fuel-hungry give a longer usable life, and thus be a better return on investment? Solar-powered propellers, or just a helium balloon, might make more sense, as every gram of fuel takes away from the payload.
  • Re:Rocket-powered? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Biogenesis ( 670772 ) <overclocker.bren ... o m e . c> on Monday November 15, 2010 @05:23PM (#34235808) Homepage
    I'm no expert, but since the atmospheric pressure on Mars is so low propellers/balloons etc probably won't work very well.
  • Re:Rocket-powered? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Monday November 15, 2010 @05:52PM (#34236120) Homepage

    With all the monthly news on Slashdot of cheap amateur helium-filled balloons reaching 30+ km (conditions similar to Mars) it's suddenly barely possible and definitely won't work? (while we almost did it [] over a decade ago)

  • by eleuthero ( 812560 ) on Monday November 15, 2010 @06:20PM (#34236420)
    For all that the rest of it was a glorious romp through suspension of disbelief land, nuking anything from orbit has never made sense to me--why not "kinetic bombardment" or something similar... probably not the same level of immediate--"ooh, that would be bad" from the audience.
  • by Simonetta ( 207550 ) on Monday November 15, 2010 @10:49PM (#34238464)

    No one is going to Mars: no one will ever walk there. Any announced Mars landing mission in the future will be quietly cancelled a few years after its announcement. There's not going to be any Apollo type mission to Mars.

    Why do I say this?

    Because the United States is broke. Not only is it broke but it is broken. Its financial system is paralyzed. The US government is too many trillions of dollars in debt. Whatever money that might have gone into a giant space project in the 20th century went instead into mortgauge fraud and pointless endless wars (that will be lost at great financial cost). The US economy is much more fragile than the government and news media is proclaiming it to be. There is no recovery, nor will there be, outside of the pronouncements of a cadre of paid-off economists and the accounting tricks of millions of government check-kiters.

    There might be a project of a giant "Predator"-like drone that flys around in the Martian atmosphere, but I doubt it. Still the aerospace-NASA lobby can pull some strings and make a project like this happen. But there won't be many projects in space in the next 20-30 years. In 150-300 years, sure, who knows? But not in our lifetimes.

    We haven't even begun to estimate the costs of the disruptions that will be caused by Peak Oil, Overpopulation, Global Warming, and fiscal collapse all happening at about the same time. My guess is that people will be so overwhelmed by the magnitude of these problems that any suggestion of massive space travel projects will be just laughed off.

    Remember that it's easy to announce these massive space projects, and just as easy to quietly cancel them when no one but the Slashdaughters are paying attention.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.