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    Thread: Next Mars lander almost ready to go

    1. Member dubfan's Avatar
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      06-15-2011 06:39 PM #1


      Taken during mobility testing on June 3, 2011, this image is of the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, inside the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

      Preparations continue for shipping the rover to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in June and for its fall 2011 launch.
      If you haven't seen the animation of how they intend to land this thing, it has to be seen to be believed:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfwaJl3KiyI

      It is scheduled to launch on November 25, 2011 and land on Mars on August 6, 2012.[7] It will perform the first-ever precision landing on Mars. The Curiosity rover will help assess whether Mars ever was, or is still today, an environment able to support microbial life. In other words, its mission is to determine the planet's habitability.

      The Curiosity rover will be more than five times as massive, and carry more than ten times the mass of scientific instruments, as the rovers Spirit or Opportunity.
      For comparison (with Spirit/Opportunity and Sojourner):



      With people for scale:



      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Science_Laboratory
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    2. Member Twistedsix's Avatar
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      06-15-2011 07:13 PM #2
      badass
      Thanks for the photos
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      06-15-2011 09:02 PM #3
      That is bad ass. Thanks for the update. Forgot about the fact they are putting these things together.



      (sometimes I wish NASA would just send this as the next mars rover...)

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      06-16-2011 11:05 AM #4
      This is f'n amazing. I can't wait till next August. Realistically, though, maybe early 2013? How far do you think the schedule will get pushed out?
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    5. Member dubfan's Avatar
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      06-16-2011 04:24 PM #5
      Very cool: live streaming video from the lab @ JPL:

      http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl



      http://www.twitter.com/MarsCuriosity
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    6. Member dubfan's Avatar
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      06-16-2011 06:57 PM #6
      So, if you missed it, they basically wrapped everything in electrostatic bags, and then wrapped a giant ESD bag around the whole thing, attached a bridle to the pallet underneath it, hoisted it up with an overhead crane, and then moved it over into its shipping container...

      It was surprisingly interesting

      If you're a big nerd like me, anyway

      "Personally, I believe that 'fairness' consists in the fruits of my labor not being taken by corrupt hacks to redistribute to their cronies in exchange for votes." -- Glenn Reynolds

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      06-16-2011 09:57 PM #7
      isn't that a really complicated way to land it?

    8. Member DonL's Avatar
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      06-16-2011 11:17 PM #8
      Quote Originally Posted by garef001 View Post
      isn't that a really complicated way to land it?
      Seems like it to me. They probably have some specific reason to land it that way.

      That thing is a tank, too! Personally, I think Spirit and Opportunity have been so successful because they're small, relatively light, and simple. A three month mission still working after 7 years? The design, engineering, and build crews deserve a bonus, IMO.
      It seems the government is currently saying, "While we're conducting this unspecified, unwarranted surveillance, we're totally thinking about how to not violate the 4th Amendment that we're currently violating. Because terrorism."

    9. 06-17-2011 12:45 AM #9
      Quote Originally Posted by dubfan View Post
      So, if you missed it, they basically wrapped everything in electrostatic bags, and then wrapped a giant ESD bag around the whole thing, attached a bridle to the pallet underneath it, hoisted it up with an overhead crane, and then moved it over into its shipping container...

      It was surprisingly interesting
      Ground operations--especially the mechanical ones--are often remarkably basic. There's some things that might not be intuitive (the ESD sheeting was purged with nitrogen, for instance), but a lot of it falls under the "oh, that makes sense" and "that's all?" categories.

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      06-17-2011 03:24 PM #10
      But Doc, without the solar panels how is it ever going to generate the 1.21 GWatts....I mean...? Is this thing nuclear?

      Post wiki read, I see the plutonium power supply. Nice going Doc.

      The landing looks risky, but probably the softest landing possible in these circumstances. I like how the sky crane piece just turns itself into a ballistic missile afterwards. Wonder if is is instrumented to measure the impact it makes.
      Last edited by chetacer; 06-17-2011 at 03:46 PM.

    11. Member dubfan's Avatar
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      06-22-2011 12:21 PM #11
      A last look at NASA's Curiosity rover as it gets packed up for the trip to Florida.

      Time-lapse movie of the NASA Mars Curiosity rover's last days in the clean room before being shipped to Florida for launch.
      4 days compressed into one minute:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reK2wZ6_ArM

      Engineers test the first-of-its-kind landing system on NASA's next Mars rover, Curiosity.
      Full motion drop test w/sky crane:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YasCQRAWRwU
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      06-22-2011 12:43 PM #12
      So sick.
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      06-27-2011 09:56 PM #13
      Dunno if any of you guys watch Known Universe, but the last episode had some new info about landing probes and other instrumental discovery type robots. In some of the places we want to go in the future, those planets/rocks may have no atmosphere in which case a parachute won't work since there would be no wind resistance.

      One of the systems they demo'd was a compressed gas system which worked in a manner exactly like this one (minus the dropping the rover down on a winch system, then blasting it like a rocket). If you like this kinda stuff, check out:

      On Now:

      Through the Wormhole (with Morgan Freeman)
      Known Universe

      Returning later this year:

      The Universe
      NOVA ScienceNOW (with Neil deGrasse Tyson)

    14. Senior Member J-Tim's Avatar
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      06-30-2011 12:54 AM #14
      What a beast!! Damn!!

      Good luck to them, though really, that landing looks incredibly complicated!!!

      Fingers and toes crossed, it's all going to work as planned.
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      What you on about ?

    15. Member dubfan's Avatar
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      07-22-2011 01:00 PM #15
      RELEASE : 11-243

      NASA'S Next Mars Rover To Land At Gale Crater

      WASHINGTON -- NASA's next Mars rover will land at the foot of a layered mountain inside the planet's Gale crater.

      The car-sized Mars Science Laboratory, or Curiosity, is scheduled to launch late this year and land in August 2012. The target crater spans 96 miles (154 kilometers) in diameter and holds a mountain rising higher from the crater floor than Mount Rainier rises above Seattle. Gale is about the combined area of Connecticut and Rhode Island. Layering in the mound suggests it is the surviving remnant of an extensive sequence of deposits. The crater is named for Australian astronomer Walter F. Gale.

      "Mars is firmly in our sights," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "Curiosity not only will return a wealth of important science data, but it will serve as a precursor mission for human exploration to the Red Planet."

      During a prime mission lasting one Martian year -- nearly two Earth years -- researchers will use the rover's tools to study whether the landing region had favorable environmental conditions for supporting microbial life and for preserving clues about whether life ever existed.

      "Scientists identified Gale as their top choice to pursue the ambitious goals of this new rover mission," said Jim Green, director for the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The site offers a visually dramatic landscape and also great potential for significant science findings."

      In 2006, more than 100 scientists began to consider about 30 potential landing sites during worldwide workshops. Four candidates were selected in 2008.

      An abundance of targeted images enabled thorough analysis of the safety concerns and scientific attractions of each site. A team of senior NASA science officials then conducted a detailed review and unanimously agreed to move forward with the MSL Science Team's recommendation. The team is comprised of a host of principal and co-investigators on the project.

      Curiosity is about twice as long and more than five times as heavy as any previous Mars rover. Its 10 science instruments include two for ingesting and analyzing samples of powdered rock that the rover's robotic arm collects. A radioisotope power source will provide heat and electric power to the rover. A rocket-powered sky crane suspending Curiosity on tethers will lower the rover directly to the Martian surface.

      The portion of the crater where Curiosity will land has an alluvial fan likely formed by water-carried sediments. The layers at the base of the mountain contain clays and sulfates, both known to form in water.

      "One fascination with Gale is that it's a huge crater sitting in a very low-elevation position on Mars, and we all know that water runs downhill," said John Grotzinger, the mission's project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. "In terms of the total vertical profile exposed and the low elevation, Gale offers attractions similar to Mars' famous Valles Marineris, the largest canyon in the solar system."

      Curiosity will go beyond the "follow-the-water" strategy of recent Mars exploration. The rover's science payload can identify other ingredients of life, such as the carbon-based building blocks of biology called organic compounds. Long-term preservation of organic compounds requires special conditions. Certain minerals, including some Curiosity may find in the clay and sulfate-rich layers near the bottom of Gale's mountain, are good at latching onto organic compounds and protecting them from oxidation.

      "Gale gives us attractive possibilities for finding organics, but that is still a long shot," said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program at agency headquarters. "What adds to Gale's appeal is that, organics or not, the site holds a diversity of features and layers for investigating changing environmental conditions, some of which could inform a broader understanding of habitability on ancient Mars."

      The rover and other spacecraft components are being assembled and undergoing final testing. The mission is targeted to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida between Nov. 25 and Dec. 18. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena manages the mission for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

      To view the landing site and for more information about the mission, visit:
      http://www.nasa.gov/msl
      http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011...ars_Sites.html
      "Personally, I believe that 'fairness' consists in the fruits of my labor not being taken by corrupt hacks to redistribute to their cronies in exchange for votes." -- Glenn Reynolds

    16. Member dubfan's Avatar
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      07-27-2011 08:12 PM #16
      Last edited by dubfan; 07-27-2011 at 08:17 PM.
      "Personally, I believe that 'fairness' consists in the fruits of my labor not being taken by corrupt hacks to redistribute to their cronies in exchange for votes." -- Glenn Reynolds

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      07-28-2011 12:59 PM #17
      that thing is awesome.

      interesting tire design. sort of half racing tire & half off road. wonder why it was designed that way instead of a compromise tread throughout the whole tire?

      the landing seems overly complex, especially compared to the bouncy ball thing from the previous rovers

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      08-01-2011 03:51 PM #18

    19. Member dubfan's Avatar
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      08-04-2011 06:22 PM #19
      Rocket pr0n:

      http://twitpic.com/60ysqu/full

      Pic of launcher. Atlas (?) I think.
      "Personally, I believe that 'fairness' consists in the fruits of my labor not being taken by corrupt hacks to redistribute to their cronies in exchange for votes." -- Glenn Reynolds

    20. 08-09-2011 01:27 AM #20
      Quote Originally Posted by dubfan View Post
      Pic of launcher. Atlas (?) I think.
      Yah.

      Interesting that most if not all of the interplanetary launches on AV use the big composite 5.4 meter fairing instead of the "smaller" 4m fairing. The payloads themselves aren't that big (and are REALLY light).

      I think it the bigger fairing has lower shock levels during separation, which could be a factor. I think someone once told me the big fairing is lighter too, which would certainly be a factor as well. Dunno for sure.

    21. Member dubfan's Avatar
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      11-24-2011 12:08 PM #21
      "Locked and loaded."



      NASA's $2.5 billion, car-sized rover is ready for an epic Mars mission. Are you? Here's how to get connected with Curiosity.

      The one-ton Curiosity rover is the central payload for the Mars Science Laboratory mission, which is due for launch at 10:02 a.m. ET Saturday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 41 in Florida, atop an Atlas 5 rocket. At today's pre-launch news conference, Colleen Hartman, NASA's assistant associate administrator for science, said the laboratory was "locked and loaded" for liftoff.

      The space agency expects the launch to bring 13,500 spectators onto its grounds, including about 150 Twitter users who are filling the Twitterverse with tweets as they attend briefings and tours. To tune in the tweeps, do a search on the #NASAtweetup hashtag, and be sure to follow Mars Curiosity on Twitter and Facebook.

      Press kits for the launch are available online from NASA and United Launch Alliance.

      NASA TV is due to air a news conference on the subject of "Why Mars Excites and Inspires Us" at 1 p.m. ET Friday, and will begin live coverage of Saturday's countdown and launch at 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday. An alternative to the NASA.gov video stream is the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Ustream video. Saturday's launch window extends until 11:45 a.m. ET, and even if storms or technical glitches force a postponement, NASA can try for liftoff all the way up to Dec. 18.
      http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news...s-mojo-working

      Hotlinks in the original for Twitter, Facebook, press kits, etc.
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      11-24-2011 12:25 PM #22
      Very cool video:

      http://youtu.be/aU_Z-6snF0Q
      "Personally, I believe that 'fairness' consists in the fruits of my labor not being taken by corrupt hacks to redistribute to their cronies in exchange for votes." -- Glenn Reynolds

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      11-26-2011 10:26 AM #23
      "Personally, I believe that 'fairness' consists in the fruits of my labor not being taken by corrupt hacks to redistribute to their cronies in exchange for votes." -- Glenn Reynolds

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      11-26-2011 12:06 PM #24
      Quote Originally Posted by petesell View Post
      the landing seems overly complex, especially compared to the bouncy ball thing from the previous rovers
      That's what I was thinking. Hope it works.
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    25. 12-08-2011 02:03 PM #25
      Hope it all goes well and some awesome discoveries are made, like signs of life for example.

      When is this thing supposed to touch down?

    26. Member dubfan's Avatar
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      12-09-2011 12:23 AM #26
      Quote Originally Posted by koko12 View Post
      Hope it all goes well and some awesome discoveries are made, like signs of life for example.

      When is this thing supposed to touch down?
      August 2012.
      "Personally, I believe that 'fairness' consists in the fruits of my labor not being taken by corrupt hacks to redistribute to their cronies in exchange for votes." -- Glenn Reynolds

    27. Member dubfan's Avatar
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      05-17-2012 02:20 PM #27
      "Personally, I believe that 'fairness' consists in the fruits of my labor not being taken by corrupt hacks to redistribute to their cronies in exchange for votes." -- Glenn Reynolds

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      05-19-2012 10:56 AM #28
      In skycrane we trust.
      Quote Originally Posted by rich! View Post
      i'd lock this thread but i have no clue how...

    29. Member dubfan's Avatar
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      06-11-2012 12:40 PM #29
      NASA holding pre-landing press conference.

      Software upgrades + very good spacecraft performance have yielded better targeting accuracy for landing. Plan to land much closer to primary science objectives. Will save ~4 months off the time on the ground to drive to the main things they want to see.

      Landing about 8 weeks away. Mission will be very slow going in the early days, as they check out the instruments and get confidence driving the new rover. Managing expectations -- only 40% of Mars missions succeed.

      Light ellipse = old target; new ellipse = new target. Main science objective is the base of the mountain where that gulley runs down, center-right in the image.

      Imaging instruments not powerful enough to see microbes directly, but could definitely see secondary structures indicating presence of extant or past microbial life. Something called "stromatolites".

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stromatolite



      http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/ms.../pia15685.html
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      06-11-2012 01:41 PM #30
      More info about the RTG (Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator) unit:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiois...tric_Generator

      Very cool yet very simple power generation technology.

      A radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG, RITEG) is an electrical generator that obtains its power from radioactive decay. In such a device, the heat released by the decay of a suitable radioactive material is converted into electricity by the Seebeck effect using an array of thermocouples.

      RTGs have been used as power sources in satellites, space probes and unmanned remote facilities, such as a series of lighthouses built by the former Soviet Union inside the Arctic Circle. RTGs are usually the most desirable power source for robotic or unmaintained situations needing a few hundred watts (or less) of power for durations too long for fuel cells, batteries, or generators to provide economically, and in places where solar cells are not practical. Safe use of RTGs requires containment of the radioisotopes long after the productive life of the unit.
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      06-11-2012 03:15 PM #31
      Quote Originally Posted by J-Tim View Post
      What a beast!! Damn!!

      Good luck to them, though really, that landing looks incredibly complicated!!!

      Fingers and toes crossed, it's all going to work as planned.
      Yep, what I was thinking - cool, but complex. I'm not a rocket scientist though, so I'm sure they have their reason for it

    32. 06-11-2012 03:36 PM #32
      Just seeing this for the first time. It would be cool to catch that thing in action as it lands

    33. Member dubfan's Avatar
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      06-26-2012 07:20 PM #33
      Now in approach phase. L-40 days.

      PASADENA, Calif. -- A maneuver on Tuesday adjusted the flight path of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft for delivering the rover Curiosity to a landing target beside a Martian mountain.

      The car-size, one-ton rover is bound for arrival the evening of Aug. 5, 2012, PDT (early Aug. 6, EDT and Universal Time). The landing will mark the beginning of a two-year prime mission to investigate whether one of the most intriguing places on Mars ever offered an environment favorable for microbial life.

      The latest trajectory correction maneuver, the third and smallest since the Nov. 26, 2011, launch, used four thruster firings totaling just 40 seconds. Spacecraft data and Doppler-effect changes in radio signal from the craft indicate the maneuver succeeded. As designed by engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., the maneuver adjusts the location where the spacecraft will enter Mars' atmosphere by about 125 miles (200 kilometers) and advances the time of entry by about 70 seconds.

      "This puts us closer to our entry target, so if any further maneuvers are needed, I expect them to be small," said JPL's Tomas Martin-Mur, the mission's navigation team chief. Opportunities for up to three additional trajectory correction maneuvers are scheduled during the final eight days of the flight.

      The maneuver served both to correct errors in the flight path that remained after earlier correction maneuvers and to carry out a decision this month to shift the landing target about 4 miles (7 kilometers) closer to the mountain.

      It altered the spacecraft's velocity by about one-tenth of a mile per hour (50 millimeters per second). The flight's first and second trajectory correction maneuvers produced velocity changes about 150 times larger on Jan. 11 and about 20 times larger on March 26.

      Shifting the landing target closer to the mountain, informally named Mount Sharp, may shave months off the time needed for driving from the touchdown location to selected destinations at exposures of water-related minerals on the slope of the mountain.

      The flight to Mars has entered its "approach phase" leading to landing day. Mission Manager Arthur Amador of JPL said, "In the next 40 days, the flight team will be laser-focused on the preparations for the challenging events of landing day -- continuously tracking the spacecraft's trajectory and monitoring the health and performance of its onboard systems, while using NASA's Deep Space Network to stay in continuous communications. We're in the home stretch now. The spacecraft continues to perform very well. And the flight team is up for the challenge."

      Descent from the top of Mars' atmosphere to the surface will employ bold techniques enabling use of a smaller target area and heavier landed payload than were possible for any previous Mars mission. These innovations, if successful, will place a well-equipped mobile laboratory into a locale especially well suited for its mission of discovery. The same innovations advance NASA toward capabilities needed for human missions to Mars.

      A video about the challenges of the landing is online at: http://go.nasa.gov/Q4b35n or http://go.usa.gov/vMn.

      As of June 27, the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft carrying the rover Curiosity will have traveled about 307 million miles (494 million kilometers) of its 352-million-mile (567-million-kilometer) flight to Mars.

      JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. More information about Curiosity is online at http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ . You can follow the mission on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .
      http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-188
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      06-27-2012 08:00 PM #34
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      06-28-2012 10:42 AM #35
      So the satallite they're using now, is that suppose to decrease the time lag between the operator and the rover? I remember the old ones had what like a full day or a bunch of hours or something delayed from the rover itself?
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