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    Thread: Next Mars lander almost ready to go

    1. 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

    2. 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

    3. Member KahviVW's Avatar
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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...

    4. 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
      "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

    5. Member Uberhare's Avatar
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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

    7. 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

    8. 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
      "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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      06-27-2012 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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      (ie....red light challenges, running over the hood of police cars etc.) Yes we watch youtube also....
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    11. Member Egz's Avatar
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      07-03-2012 08:10 AM #36
      Quote Originally Posted by nismo4life View Post
      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?
      Not sure how one does that, short of discovering subspace frequencies. That would be amazing if they can do it somehow. Using an average distance of 140 million miles, the fastest one way signal would be 12.5 minutes.

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      07-03-2012 03:24 PM #37
      NASA uses their deep space network which is essentially an array of antennas located on different areas of the world to communicate with satellites and other devices in space. As far as I can tell there aren't any relay type devices out in space that amplify or repeat the signal.

      http://deepspace.jpl.nasa.gov/dsn/

      Found another article from jpl:

      Not only will the rover send messages directly to the DSN stations, but it will also be able to uplink information to other spacecraft orbiting Mars, utilizing mainly the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey (if necessary) spacecraft as messengers that can pass along news to Earth for the rover. The respective spacecraft will mainly "talk" via their UHF antennas. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter carries an Electra UHF payload that could potentially be very valuable in navigating the Mars Science Laboratory safely toward Mars. The Ka-Band package aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will serve as another possible pipeline to "talk" to the Mars Science Laboratory (read more about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Engineering Instruments).

      The benefits of using the orbiting spacecraft are that the orbiters are closer to the rover than the DSN antennas on Earth and the orbiters have Earth in their field of view for much longer time periods than the rover on the ground.

      Because the orbiters will only be between 160 and 250 miles (257 and 400 kilometers) above the surface of Mars, the rover won't have to "yell" as loudly (or use as much energy to send a message) to the orbiters as it will to the antennas on Earth.
      http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/mission...communication/

      Looks like the talking to orbiting spacecraft is not to increase the speed of communications but to increase the ability of earth and the rover to talk to eachother over longer periods as the orbiting satellite will be in Earth's view for longer periods of time.

      Also, it looks like the orbiting satellite is only around 160-250 miles above the orbiting satellite so it doesn't have to use as much power to talk... the satellite can do that for it and power can be reserved probably for moving around or performing experiments instead of communication.

    13. Member dubfan's Avatar
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      07-26-2012 06:40 PM #38
      Little bump for L-10 days.

      Mars Odyssey, which was to provide the bent-pipe comm relay during landing, went into safe mode a few weeks ago and moved out of position for a while, and they didn't know if they'd get it back in place. Which meant getting word on whether landing worked or not was going to be delayed several hours instead of just the usual time of light delay of ~14 minutes.

      http://www.spaceflight101.com/msl-mi...updates-2.html

      Also on Tuesday, the Mars Odyssey Orbiter completed a six-second thruster burn to move back into position for MSL EDL. Early in June, Odyssey entered Safe Mode because its onboard computers detected a problem with one of the vehicle's reaction wheels that are used for attitude control. As a result, Odyssey's orbit changed slightly before teams were able to recover the vehicle from safe mode. On July 11, Odyssey transitioned to safe mode again after a thruster burn put a high demand on the reaction wheel for attitude stabilization during the maneuver. The orbiter was recovered once again and is now using its spare reaction wheel, but due to these periods spent is safe mode pointing at Earth, the spacecraft moved slightly out of position which would have caused Odyssey to pass over the MSL Landing Site two minutes after touchdown instead of its nominal Comm Pass during Entry, Descent and Landing. The maneuver performed on Tuesday changed Odyssey’s Orbit so that it can provide nominal EDL communication support.
      Odyssey will be able to provide bent-pipe communications during EDL, relaying the UHF Telemetry Stream to Earth in nearly real-time. Also available during EDL are Direct to Earth Communications via X-Band Tones, however, Earth will set at the landing site at at the point of Parachute Deployment meaning the MFSK Tones will only be available until that point in the EDL sequence. Without direct UHF relay, there would be no ‘real-time’ monitoring capability. The presence of UHF telemetry will allow controllers to monitor the vehicle and provide a real-time visualization of the activities occurring at Mars. With Odyssey back in place, confirmation of a successful landing should be available shortly after touchdown – pending unfavorable communication characteristics such as structural blockages due to terrain. On landing day, Odyssey will have another Comm Pass about 2 hours after landing, Mars Express will transmit the stored UHF telemetry at EDL+1 to 2 Hours and MRO will send its signal back to Earth about 4 hours after the landing.
      "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

    14. Member dubfan's Avatar
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      07-30-2012 08:30 PM #39
      L-6

      Entry, Descent and Landing Procedure Begins

      Mon Jul 30 2012 16:15:41 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)

      Today, the Mars Science Laboratory flight team begins executing its procedure for entry, descent and landing (EDL), and the spacecraft begins its sequence of autonomous activities leading to the landing this coming weekend. These activities include enabling needed components and setting final parameters. In addition, the schedule over the next several days includes opportunities to update parameters for the autonomous software controlling events during EDL. If needed, these updates can fine-tune the spacecraft's autonomous controls for its descent through the atmosphere. Some parameters give the spacecraft's onboard computer knowledge about where the vehicle is relative to Mars. Others may be updated based on observations by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft of Mars' variable atmospheric conditions in this week before landing.
      Landing page:

      http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/
      "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

    15. Member Geekengineer's Avatar
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      07-31-2012 11:12 AM #40
      Quote Originally Posted by dubfan View Post

      I am stressed out thinking of the endless potential problems with getting such a large payload down safely on Mars. I'm trying to stay positive, but that skycrane release procedure has me a bit worried.

      Oh well, nothing I can do about it from my desk. Except sweat.



      P.S. I sure hope the heat shield simply drops away, as planned. If that thing gets hung up, it's game over.
      Last edited by Geekengineer; 07-31-2012 at 11:19 AM.
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    16. Member dubfan's Avatar
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      08-01-2012 01:16 AM #41
      Back in 2004 or whenever it was, I stayed up late to watch the MER rovers land. NASA Select TV carried it live from JPL. It was incredibly cool -- and now I can't wait for MSL. Just wish there was another one of those puppies scheduled to land a few weeks later... No margin for error this time If they pull this off, the control room at JPL is gonna go NUTS. Can't wait to watch it. It's like the Olympics, for nerds
      Last edited by dubfan; 08-01-2012 at 01:36 AM.
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      08-02-2012 12:34 PM #42
      L-3:

      Further Preps for Entry, Descent and Landing

      Wed Aug 01 2012 17:27:55 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)

      With Curiosity now flying under the control of the autonomous entry, descent and landing timeline, the Mars Science Laboratory team continues to monitor the spacecraft's health and trajectory. There are no real-time activities planned today. In the event that a fifth trajectory correction maneuver is needed to further fine-tune the spacecraft's course to reach its target landing ellipse, the flight team is making preparations for it. If needed, that maneuver would be executed on Friday, Aug. 3. Curiosity remains in good health, with no significant issues currently in work.
      "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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      08-04-2012 01:11 AM #43
      L-2:

      Aug. 3: MSL Right on Course -- TCM-5 Cancelled

      With less than three days to go before touchdown on the Red Planet, Curiosity remains in good health, with all systems operating as expected. Given the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft's consistent and stable course, today the project decided that the planned Trajectory Correction Maneuver 5 (TCM-5) and its corresponding update to parameters for the autonomous software controlling events during entry, descent and landing will not be necessary. As of 12:35 p.m. today PDT (3:35 p.m. EDT), the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft was approximately 468,000 miles (753,200 kilometers) from Mars, or a little less than twice the distance from Earth to the moon. It is traveling at about 8,000 mph (3,576 meters per second). It will gradually increase in speed to about 13,200 mph (5,900 meters per second) by the time it reaches the top of the Martian atmosphere.
      "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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      08-04-2012 03:41 AM #44
      Thanks for the update. Seattle watching party at Wayward Coffee (Roosevelt and 65th) Sunday night at 10:30pm, I cannot go.
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      08-04-2012 10:07 PM #45
      Quote Originally Posted by l5gcw0b View Post
      Thanks for the update. Seattle watching party at Wayward Coffee (Roosevelt and 65th) Sunday night at 10:30pm, I cannot go.


      L-1:

      Aug. 4: Curiosity Closes in on its New 'Home'

      With Mars looming ever larger in front of it, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft and its Curiosity rover are in the final stages of preparing for entry, descent and landing on the Red Planet at 10:31 p.m. PDT Aug. 5 (1:31 a.m. EDT Aug. 6). Curiosity remains in good health with all systems operating as expected. Today, the flight team uplinked and confirmed commands to make minor corrections to the spacecraft's navigation reference point parameters. This afternoon, as part of the onboard sequence of autonomous activities leading to the landing, catalyst bed heaters are being turned on to prepare the eight Mars Lander Engines that are part of MSL's descent propulsion system. As of 2:25 p.m. PDT (5:25 p.m. EDT), MSL was approximately 261,000 miles (420,039 kilometers) from Mars, closing in at a little more than 8,000 mph (about 3,600 meters per second).
      "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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      08-05-2012 07:07 PM #46
      Can't wait! Will tune in to NASA TV tonight.
      Go Gators!

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      08-05-2012 07:35 PM #47
      “I would request that my body in death be buried not cremated, so that the energy content contained within it gets returned to the earth, so that flora and fauna can dine upon it, just as I have dined upon flora and fauna during my lifetime” - Neil deGrasse Tyson.

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      08-05-2012 08:39 PM #48
      Quote Originally Posted by DSG-TDI View Post
      Can't wait! Will tune in to NASA TV tonight.
      NASA TV is not in HD here, so I will be watching CNN.
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      08-06-2012 12:16 AM #49
      Fingers are crossed. It certainly seems like a lot of added failure modes.
      Go NASA!
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      08-06-2012 01:39 AM #50
      AMAZING! Go NASA!
      Go Gators!

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