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Mars NASA Robotics

NASA Announces Mars 2020 Rover Payload 109

An anonymous reader writes with news that the Mars 2020 experiments have been chosen: In short, the 2020 rover will cary 7 instruments, out of 58 proposals in total, and the rover itself will be based on the current Curiosity rover. The selected instruments are: Mastcam-Z, an advanced camera system with panoramic and stereoscopic imaging capability with the ability to zoom. SuperCam, an instrument that can provide imaging, chemical composition analysis, and mineralogy. The instrument will also be able to detect the presence of organic compounds in rocks and regolith from a distance. Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL), an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer that will also contain an imager with high resolution to determine the fine scale elemental composition of Martian surface materials. Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC) — This one will have a UV laser! The Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE), an exploration technology investigation that will produce oxygen from Martian atmospheric carbon dioxide. Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA). This one is basically a weather station. The Radar Imager for Mars' Subsurface Exploration (RIMFAX), a ground-penetrating radar that will provide centimeter-scale resolution of the geologic structure of the subsurface.

Can't decide if the UV laser or the ground radar is the coolest of the lot.
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NASA Announces Mars 2020 Rover Payload

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  • Laser? (Score:2, Funny)

    by CimmerianX ( 2478270 )

    ...Because it's always a good idea to give robots lasers. What's the worst that could happen?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Hey everybody! It's another "science" article where the utterly clueless feel the need to make stupid jokes!!
      Just another crappy day at Slashdork.

  • Can't decide if the UV laser or the ground radar is the coolest of the lot.

    That would be the UV laser. Ground-penetrating radar is so Twentieth Century.

  • Where's the seismometer? Three would have been nice. It could have dropped them off at three different places.
  • "It's the all-new Johnny Five! Just look at these items! Increased memory: five hundred megabytes on-line! I come with a utility pack and dozens of gadgets for outdoor living, lots of Greenpeace stickers, and even my own Nike swoosh! And, if you act now, I'll throw in, absolutely free, my all-new, multi-frequency remote control!"

  • Where is the carbon monoxide going to go? If it's to the atmosphere, what's the environmental impact down the road?

  • Put my cell phone in there. Hell, people are looking at where I'm going and doing using my cell phone. All the interments are already installed. The iPhone6 will be out with Bio-Metrics. All JPL has to do is go over the local Sprint store and get one for free. Why Sprint? Their coverage is pretty good in Indiana, Mars, I think, falls under that category so the the dropped calls shouldn't be a problem.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Sherloc (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals) instrument sounds fascinating.

    I always new cheap and tasty chinese noodles would someday make it out of the bowl and to the planets. One small step for Raman. One giant leap for Ramankind!

  • I'm just about the spaciest space-nutter around, but why the hell are they spending precious money and opportunity to fly a freaking demonstration instead of another actual observational tool?

    Look, we know the composition of Mars' atmosphere. We know how much sunlight falls there, what the temperature range is, and so on. It's dead simple to set up a testbed here on Earth, in a jar, and run the oxygen-production process in the testbed. Better yet, you get to measure its output, tweak its operating parameter

    • Yup. It is a stupid, idiotic waste of space, but I guess JPL has to give this concession to the manned-space porksters at NASA HQ. You just know that the engineers at JPL are rolling their eyes when presented with this plan. Gawd, when can we get a new administration at NASA and clean out the anti-science, pro-pork, manned spaceflight lobby in the NASA HQ? I would like to see equal representation of the Science directorate in top NASA management, not yet-more ex-pilots.
  • by Squidlips ( 1206004 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @01:19PM (#47582815)
    I am sure the crew at JPL is rolling their eyes about the MOXIE CO2-->O2 "experiment". Here is an experiment that could easily be done at any of, say, a hundred universities here on Earth. What is the point of taking up valuable space, electricity, and engineering effort just to shlepp this stunt to the surface of another world? The point is that JPL was probably forced to do this by the Human-exploration Directorate weasels that run NASA or JPL is doing it to appease them so they don't get their funding cut when their asteroid-capture stunt goes over-budget as it surely will. And why split CO2 for rocket fuel when there is nothing to burn. Wouldn't be easier to split ice/H2O and you get H2 for fuel if you want, but, of course it is harder to gather and purify the ice. But anyway I am all for it if that is what it takes to get another rover to Mars....
    • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

      Nobody's landed a MOXIE on Mars before, not one broken or working. Until that happens you can't definitively say "yes you can produce rocket fuel to go back home to Earth with". Once you can say this, the logistics for putting a human on Mars and returning him safely become a realistic goal. Right now it's just a theory.

      • What's the point of MOXIE? Sending humans to Mars is 100 times the cost of what is in the NASA budget now for Manned spaceflight so it is just not going to happen. Everything on Mars except the low gravity is easily simulate-able on Earth for a fraction of the cost. MOXIE is just plan idiotic. It is just a stunt by the Human Spaceflight Directorate at NASA to get in on the action. They finally realized that the real excitement in spaceflight are the unmanned probes so they want a piece of the action.
        • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

          Sure, but it I said, "hey, I found a spare trillion USD in the budget, let's setup a moon base and rotate the crew every 3 months", you would say "ok great, we've proven getting men to the moon and back is a realistic goal". And so it goes. The Russians and the Chinese are both looking at this as something they want to achieve in the next 20 years. It's a proven thing, there's no ifs ands or buts, you can put a man on the moon and bring him home safely.

          If something goes horribly wrong on the moon, y

          • But some day we're going to send a man to Mars. Or I will weep for humanity. Hopefully in my lifetime.

            Well, you might need to buy a box of tissues. The fundamental problem with the plan to send a man to mars still remains, and until that is solved, nobody is going to Mars in person. The problem? We simply aren't interested enough to invest the money and energy to do it. The reason is that the future of space travel lies with machines, whereas human space travel lies in the past. We all know it, we've known it for years. Manned space travel is like restoring steam trains these days. Sure, there's a few enthu

            • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

              Both Russia and China have reaffirmed their plans to go to Mars. Just this week Russia announced that they were building a new super heavy lift rocket for such a purpose. Since those are the only two countries with human spaceflight programs currently, they're the most likely to accomplish these goals. I would no longer count on the United States to lead the way here.

              • Do you think that these are likely to be more than stunts?

                I can't of course judge their motivation. But they do seem most inclined to use space technology as a symbol of the status of their respective nations (much as the US once did with Apollo). This being the case then it seems likely that - if they ever go to Mars - these efforts will be abandoned shortly after reaching the first milestone.

      • by Electricity Likes Me ( 1098643 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @03:47PM (#47584115)

        Absolutely everything in space travel is about 'legacy' - "has this part, flown and operated, in an actual space mission before?"

        Everything about space travel requires testing because you can't properly test anything on Earth. Not really, not as good as actually sending it up there and checking it works in the real environment. One of the fun things people do with Cubesats at the moment is build them with all sorts of random components, because a cubesat is so cheap you can afford and expect to lose it, but if it works, you can put a big tick on "yep, operates for X hours in low earth orbit".

        You absolutely would not want to send a CO2 -> O2 device to Mars, to supply humans with O2, that has never been into space or onto Mars before. Do we truly understand Martian dust environments? Chemistry at extended periods of time (months) of catalysts at low pressure/temperature?

        Developing the space legacy of components like that (and it's not just a CO2 -> O2 converter it will be many individual component designs) is staggeringly important. Not to mention, that it means in the future you can more reliably design experiments to go to Mars which depend on an oxidizing atmosphere, if you can reliably make it and purify it in situ. But you wouldn't want to put a chain of stuff like that on a probe, and then discover none of it will work because your oxygen maker breaks down after a few hours.

    • I am a 21 year employee at JPL. I can say that the scientists, engineers, technicians, and managers who have discussed MOXIE with me this past year have never voiced anything negative. JPL has a highly entrepreneurial workforce. Almost 90% of the scientists work on competitively awarded proposals. If you don't win you don't have a job ... it's that simple. There are significant technologies within MOXIE that these scientists have worked their entire careers to get into spaceflight. Have some respect.
      • Which experiment got bumped in favor of MOXIE?
      • I have tremendous respect for JPL and if the JPL crew is enthusiastic about MOXIE then I withdraw my objections to it. But couldn't you simulate the high-G launch and EDL with a centrifuge and simulate the radiation exposure and low atmospheric pressure here on earth? OK, I guess it is not the same as the real thing and it will be good for publicity so OK...
  • I have the perfect landing spot!

    The cydonia region! What and exciting and interesting rock formation!

  • Long time lurker on Slashdot and while many times I've fretted and wondered about posting something, it's never risen above the threshold. For Mars2020 though, I'm "rocketing" through that barrier. I spent half of last year in a room with four other great scientists writing one of the proposals and then sweating out another six months waiting to hear yesterday that we won. I am not the Principal or Deputy PI for this instrument, but I have been for ISS instruments. To be a part of a planetary mission is
  • No tool to dig the ground? If there is life on Mars it is probably below the surface.

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