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Next Mars Mission Selected For Funding 61

First time accepted submitter Dr Bip writes "Flush with the good news coming from Mars, NASA has announced that JPL has won funding for the next mission to Mars. It seems that the lander will be carrying a self-driving mole developed by the German space agency (DLR). Commiserations to the two other projects that were also in the selection finale (TiME and CHopper). Note the DLR mole's last attempt to get to Mars was with the Beagle 2 lander, fingers crossed for this second attempt."
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Next Mars Mission Selected For Funding

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  • That's nice, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by milbournosphere ( 1273186 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @06:04PM (#41060495)
    I had kind of been rooting for the Titan mission. It's far riskier, but would give us some valuable information about the ice and methane lakes on the moon, and some hope to find microbial life.
  • Oh well (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @06:08PM (#41060543) Journal

    I guess we'll never build base camp on the moon. It would be so much cheaper to send some 3D printers up there to melt some rocks and build and launch the next probes

  • by uigrad_2000 ( 398500 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @06:10PM (#41060581) Homepage Journal

    Same here, minus the "kind of".

    Current theories are that the methane rain falls in giant (3 inch) droplets, but just gently floats down due to the increased atmosphere and lower gravity. I'm really hoping that we get more images of this truly alien world sometime within my lifetime.

    The TiME proposal seemed unusually inexpensive, and it pains me to think that it's not going to happen. As much as I dislike James Cameron's movies, I hope he suddenly gets an urge to pitch in some additional funding here :)

  • by theshowmecanuck ( 703852 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @06:40PM (#41060999) Journal

    I remember the original viking landings and had one of the first Carl Sagan book afterwards with pictures from Mars (Cosmos). At that time it was abso-fucking-lutely mindblowing to have actual pictures from the surface of another planet (moon not included). I remember those pictures had a much stronger orange-pink colour to the sky because of the atmospheric gas composition.

    Now the new pictures aren't showing a blue earth sky or anything, but they do seem to be less drastic than the old viking pictures. They are also orders of magnetude better pictures of course. But are these also better in terms of colour correctness or have they been altered for some reason. i.e. is this really what things look like on the surface?

    That aside, the pictures are so mind numbingly crisp and high resolution that you can't help but think it was taken by someone in some desert here on Earth and photoshopped. I don't think it is a conspiracy at all. It's just that the pictures are so clear you can almsot feel like you can go there and take a look at the rover doing it's thing. Except for the 45 million mile thing. It is somewhat disconcerting.

  • by bryonak ( 836632 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @07:29PM (#41061659)

    I do greatly enjoy the Euro and the European unification that has happened so far. There is still a lot of room for improvement, and most of it means more unification and standardisation.

    Why not divide your country up into it's regions, then municipalities. Give each of them a different coinage, traffic laws, customs regulations, infrastructure policies, economic agenda, school programmes, "national" sports teams, anthems, you-name-the-other-200-things ... congratulations, you have made your former country a far worse place.
    In hindsight, it's a no-brainer that we have unified whatever political unification happened so far in world history*.
    It's silly obvious, really. Yet still there are people who insist that it's not worth it. Sure, there are usually short-term complications, but avoiding wars is by far not the only benefit.

    * Yup, even with Yugoslavia and the USSR, where it first brought many decades of benefits. If you want to discuss that more extensively, be my guest. Just as a quick note, dictatorial discrimination of minorities is orthogonal and detrimental to unification.

  • by petsounds ( 593538 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @10:34PM (#41063581)

    I too am very disappointed in NASA's decision to send yet another mission to Mars with our tax dollars. And not even a rover, but a stationary lander that has no applicable benefit to a future manned mission. I'm sure planetary geologists are excited and detecting Mars-quakes is kinda cool, but ultimately InSight checks very few boxes.

    By contrast, TiME (Titan Mare Explorer), the Titan mission to land on a methane sea, checks many boxes:
    * Only the second mission to this highly-fascinating moon we know very little about
    * Would be the first human craft to land on the ocean of another world
    * Taking pictures of said ocean... enough said
    * Determine the chemistry and other properties of Titan's oceans. Study the meteorology of the local atmosphere. We know very little about this.
    * TiME was set to test a new, more efficient type of RTG (radioisotope thermoelectric generator), as solar panels are not feasible on Titan. Testing new tech is IMO a high priority for the low-budget Discovery missions.
    * Due to its use of a RTG, TiME should have enough power to continue operating for at least 14 years. A very cost-effective investment of public funds.
    * All of the above add up to huge emotional interest by the public, which is vital for any NASA mission given the funding situation.

    Comparing these two missions, I find it baffling that NASA administrators chose the Mars mission. I find it hard to believe there was political or internal bias towards InSight. It's almost like NASA has forgotten there are other worlds (and IMO more interesting ones) to explore in the solar system. With the dry-up of NASA funds, I feel it is very inappropriate of them to put all their planetary chips on Mars. They've missed an important chance for exploration here. And I can't imagine any Joe or Jane Taxpayer being excited about InSight.

    P.S. -- TiME could not actually be considered a boat. It has no propulsion device; instead, it is designed to float around a Titan sea. Any motion through the sea would be due to ocean waves or Titan winds.

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