back to article New NASA nuclear Mars rover hits budget, time problems

NASA's plans for a huge, nuclear powered laser-toting robot tank to succeed the present rovers on the surface of Mars have hit budget problems, according to reports. The Mars Science Laboratory mission is currently planned by the space agency to lift off late next year and reach the Red Planet in the autumn of 2010, there to …

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Alert

Are they sure it's an 'exploration' vehicle?

"Its radioisotope power source will enable the use of powerful grinders and crushers, able to powder tough Martian rocks for analysis, and a laser able to "vapourise material" up to 10 meters off"

Sounds like one of DARPA's killbots, FFS!

We await a response from amanfrommars. (U-LLA!)

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Alien

I for one...

...welcome our rock-grinding laser-toting martian overlords...

Prob'ly not the first, I know, but just to be sure.

Then again, if it can refine metals out of the martian soil, can it be made self-replicating? better add "von Neumann machine" to that list of adjectives.

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Bronze badge

trail and error

first bit of nuclear energy in space since 1963 or something. a crater on mars is a good start

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Coat

I'm sure it's entirely safe

I for one welcome our new etc etc

Mine's the one with the broken off switch in the pocket.

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Stop

It's a radiothermal generator, not a fission reactor

Stop over-dramatising; there are loads of radiothermal generators in space already. All they are is a lump of radioactive material that gets a bit warm as it decays. Really not that interesting, honest.

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Silver badge
Coat

Yay!

It's got frickin' laser beams!

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Alien

@dervheid

U-LLA I indeed, and all comms from the killbot will be in a synthesized Richard Burton-voice !!

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Boffin

Got any spare plutonium, guv?

The interesting thing about RTGs is that the heat source is Pu-238.

There's very very little Pu-238 around these days. The American Govt has none, and so NASA have been in negotiations with the Russians to purchase their remaining 10 kg, to be used in the MSL.

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Anonymous Coward

What happened

To the intent not to contaminate other planets? Also, if they are looking for living organisms, then surely nuking them means they will be dead when found?

NASA really should go back to the drawing board to mull these things over. So far it has had quite a good engineering record on martian exploration. The last thing it wants is to compete with the British record of success. (I mean failure of course, but one cannot be seen talking the country down, can one).

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dv
Coat

Lemme see...

"... will be looking for signs of life... " by blasting the surveyed area with rocket exhaust, grinding and crushing some rocks and subsequently zapping anything that moves with a frikkin' laser? Ahh... those life-finding missions....

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Alien

New rover also features a megaphone

...so it can announce its arrival, "HAI MARTIANZ!! WE HAZ PEWPEW LAZERZ AND NUKEZ SO BRING FORTH THE WATERZ AND LIFEFORMZ NOW!"

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Bronze badge

re: I for one...

But what if the Martians don't welcome their nuclear powered laser-toting robot tank overlords?

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Joke

I've seen this before.

All that will happen is that it will crash land on Earth by mistake, and then Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man, will have to run it down and disable it before it does any harm.

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Stop

What's the hurry?

So they're using a new, untried landing system. The lesson from Phoenix is test, test and test again until you're as sure as you can be that it will work. Delaying a couple of years is nothing against losing the mission just to meet a launch window. Doesn't NASA ever learn from its mistakes?

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Gold badge
Joke

Re: Steve Austin

If that's a requirement, we'd better get the DARPA boys working on a nuclear-powered Zimmer frame now then.

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Pirate

Whats wrong with the Lake District

It seems an awfully expensive way of getting rid Britain's nuclear waste but "hurrah!" to our American friends for paling up to help us now that it looks like we won't need all the uranium bombs because the cold war is over!

Wait a minute!.... That blumin' Tony Blair and his rascal pal Poisoner Putin! Wait till I get my hands on you two! (shakes fist in comical fashion).

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