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Mars NASA Science

11 Amazing Things NASA's Huge Mars Rover Can Do 147

TheNextCorner writes "NASA is getting set to launch its next Mars rover this week. The car-size Curiosity rover is the centerpiece of NASA's $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, slated to blast off Saturday (Nov. 26) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The rover will employ 10 different science instruments to help it answer questions once it touches down on the Red Planet in August 2012."
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11 Amazing Things NASA's Huge Mars Rover Can Do

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  • Re:No terraforming? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @02:03PM (#38126228)

    Sure it can... it will just take a few billion years.

    One misplaced micro-organism and it could set off evolution on mars that will slowly terraform the planet over the next few billion years.

  • It needs swarmbots. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @02:49PM (#38126798) Journal

    It should have a cargo-hold full of Wall-E type devices that can scatter during the day and return home to charge at night.

    Give more than one scientist at a time a chance to drive.

    (And reduce the risk of total mission failure in case of a Walowitz incident.)

  • Re:No terraforming? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @02:51PM (#38126808)

    Bacteria have been found alive on the outside of satellites that have not had contact with earth for months.

    If they can survive on the exterior of man made objects in space- it is potentially possible they could survive on Mars.

    One of the theories of origin, pan-spermia, is that simplistic organisms (or their precursors) spread to earth via space debris.

  • by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @03:07PM (#38127102) Homepage Journal

    If I had say in the matter, I would include more redundance.

    Instead of one of each type of camera on the mast, I would include redundant cameras on each mast.
    Instead of one mast, I would require two masts, with separate motors, computers, etc.

    I would include both mechanical (or pneumatic if compressors that work in that environment can be made compactly enough) and electrostatic lens cleaning mechanisms.

    I would include redundant "legs" and wheels, with the primary set being ejectable in the event of failure.

    The cost would go up, but given that when you come down to it this amounts to a $2.5bil RC car, spending a few million more on extreme redundance to guarantee reliability (after it hopefully lands safely) is very cheap insurance - it's not like you can just send out a minimum-wage Geek Squad "technician" to (hopefully) repair it and upsell it on gold-plated HDMI cables and Norton AntiVirus. ;) It'd suck if the one mast failed, or one "leg" failed without a backup unit or mechanism.

  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @03:16PM (#38127234) Journal
    I'd go with an ATHLETE styled [] base, and deploy several probes rather than just one.

Kill Ugly Processor Architectures - Karl Lehenbauer