back to article Nuclear Mars tank thrusts hard into perfect position

Unlike the broken-down Russian Mars probe Phobos-Grunt, the NASA Mars Science Laboratory is on track for touching down on the Red Planet after smoothly pulling off some well-choreographed thrusts. In its biggest manoeuvre yet, the floating nuclear science tank - which is carrying shiny new rover Curiosity - fired up to eight …

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will the jeep be able to leave the crater?

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No point

The whole idea is to climb the central mound and compare the various layers, as high as possible.

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Anonymous Coward

of course there's a point

for that kind of money, they should have a plan B, in case plan A turns out to be unworkable

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Coat

Plan B is to play King of the Hill with all comers. Presumable, someone else is bound to show up.. Right?

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Unhappy

Re: Will the jeep be able to leave the crater?

Not if it makes the crater.

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Windows

Depressing to think...

..with it's plutonium power cells, and the underestimation of the life of the project, the damn thing will probably still be trundling around Mars when I'm 6 feet under...

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Happy

Great title..

That is all...

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min

well...

...the mars tank will certainly not land with a grunt.

good to hear that things are working out though..real pity when space endeavours fail.

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Whilst I hope not I can't help but think this thrusting magnificence is going to splatter its load over the face of Mars.

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Don't worry, the NASA boffins have programmed a handbrake parking manoeuvre macro to a hotkey - F12 I think. Press... skid, spin round, swish neatly into the atmosphere. Then it's Ctrl+E to release its cargo. Hopefully someone remembered to print out a keyboard overlay just in case. I wonder if the Russians realise it's Ctrl+R to restart? ;-)

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Indeed it will be tragic if it fails and I really, really hope it doesn't. But it sure is awful complicated! There's a heat shield to use and jetison, parchutes to use and jetison, hovering with jets to a very specific altitude, cables to be unwound and gentle landings to be done...

Oh, and then cables to be disconnected, hovering things to be flown away and crashed somewhere else. And then the tank, which is no simple beast itself, has to wake itself up and start it's trundle 'n' zap routine ...

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complex for sure, but...

"...There's a heat shield to use and jetison, parchutes to use and jetison, hovering with jets to a very specific altitude, cables to be unwound and gentle landings to be done..."

Yeah, it's complicated as hell, for sure, but is it really that much more complex than the entry/landing systems used by Viking, Pathfinder, or MER?

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Happy

Other than the "Sky Crane" they have already done everything you mention before, On Earth, Venus, Mars, Titan and Jupiter.

As to the crane, its really just an extension of the Viking landers and the moon landers, only with newer tech. Pathfinder, Spirit and Opportunity being excellent examples of new tech (air bags) being used for the first time.

I've worked with the people at JPL. It isn't just a job for them, its their Bliss (read Joseph Campbell if you don't get it).

I have faith in their abilities to pull this off.

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Windows

Faith? So have I.

Most of the numpties posting here - possibly all - are not "rocket scientists".

(Excluding the ones you could buy for Nov.5, natch)

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FAIL

Could not find anything under "Faith". Did you mean "Fail"?

You just need to have about 2 years of engineering on your résumé to learn that designing and building an artifact doing stuff in the real world is fraught with risk because nature WILL confront you with configuration spaces larger than you imagined and exhibit the FRANKLY DISTURBING tendency to change the state of your artifact from a controlled region to one of the VASTLY LARGER regions next to it, with those regions labelled "here be failure", "don't go here" and "your wife just left you", and this RANDOMLY and EXPONENTIALLY MORE FREQUENTLY the more complex your artifact is.

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Coat

@Gary F

Interesting concept. I wonder if the Russians saw "Game Over - Insert 1.5 billion rubles to play"?

(Searching my pockets for loose change).

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Alien

"There's a heat shield to use and jetison, parchutes to use and jetison, hovering with jets to a very specific altitude, cables to be unwound and gentle landings to be done...

Oh, and then cables to be disconnected, hovering things to be flown away and crashed somewhere else."

I wonder how the little green men will like us littering up their planet?

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Windows

ANY CHANCE...

...that you can rewrite that into a language that someone moderately closely replicating a humanoid could understand?

Ta muchly.

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Joke

"I wonder how the little green men will like us littering up their planet?"

Don't you think there maybe scrap metal dealers up there?

"Ooh, here's a manned one coming in - Tarmac your landing strip for £50, squire?"

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Alien

Mars vs Earth scores

There used to be a page carrying the current scores - i.e. point to Earth when we get a probe to Mars & a point to Mars when a probe fails - but I can't find it anymore (possibly gone).

Anyone remember that page & got a link to it?

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Happy

@Peter

http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/cliff-kuang/design-innovation/infographic-day-were-getting-good-going-mars

Mars mission success/failure information - data is up to date until 2007.

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Bah!

I've just take a look at the pics of the rover and it seems woefully under armed and armoured for the task at hand - gathering data while fighting off the murderous attentions of the perfidious Mysterons.

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Alien

Perfidious?

Stop trying to rewrite history(?) It was the perfidious humans who attacked first. What happened next was just self-defence!

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Bah!

The only good Mysteron is one with its strings cut!

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Windows

Under-armoured?

Probably a "Suicide Martian Rover"

Like Phobos-Grunt instructed. "We come in peace from all mankind". PLOP!!! BANG!!!

Wouldn't fool me!

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What's the exchange rate?

Fine

1) Reckless Flying.

2) Fly Tipping.

3) Shit Parking.

4) Driving the wrong way around a one way crater.

5) Inappropriate use of full beam laser disturbing oncoming traffic.

6) ETC

"The chances of anything coming from Earth are a Million to One They Said. The Chances Of Anything Coming From Earth Are A Million To One but......"

'Oh Do Shut The Fuck Up. Are we going to Ticket it when it gets here?'

'Sir! Yes! Sir!'

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Stop

Velocity change of 12 mph

in which direction? Velocity is a vector quantity consisting of speed and direction. So, did the craft speed up by 12mph (delta-v of 12 mph at 0, 0 degrees [relative to the initial direction of travel and the plane of the ecliptic]), slow down by 12 mph (delta-v of 12 mph at 180, 0 degrees), or actually change course (delta-v of 12 mph at e.g. 90, 0 degrees)?

Or did the craft merely change *speed* by 12 mph?

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Coat

accuracy puleeeeese

it was 12.3 mph change

off to another circuit of the net

Code

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Hope the European Space Agency hasn't helped

Or all the calculations could be skewed by the assumption that the figures are all in kph...

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Schadenfreude ist die beste Freude ?

«NASA shows Russians how Phobos-Grunt should have worked.» I get the impression that Ms Leach is far happier at the Russian failure than at the US success. So much for H sapiens sapiens being engaged in a common effort to overcome the limitations that the Earth's gravity well, solar radiation, etc, etc, impose upon us !...

Henri

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Anonymous Coward

mars road truckers

I look forward to lots of driving round in a dull lifeless landscape but in higher resolution.

Maybe made a bit more interesting by some suspect digital animation to make it all look more worthwhile like they do on the boring ice road truckers.

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Dull? Sez YOU.

"I look forward to lots of driving round in a dull lifeless landscape but in higher resolution."

Lifeless, for sure, but dull? Hardly. I've found the landscapes of Mars to be beautiful and compelling in progressively greater degrees as the image quality increased, ever since the first images came back from Viking 35 years ago.

I'm still hoping I'm alive -- and still coherent -- when the first rover is landed on Mars which is capable of recording and transmitting back full-motion video, so we can see things like the sampling arms and drills at work, views from the rover while traveling, and dust devils sweeping across the plains. I still remember the 16mm motion picture footage shot from the Apollo LRVs while "on the road" between traverse points (they couldn't transmit live video while traveling) -- man, that was amazing stuff.

I don't recall if the sky crane has its own imaging systems or not -- I'll have to hit the MSL site -- but some shots of the rover being lowered to the surface and a view of the landing site as the crane ascends and flies off would be really fascinating... like the views from the Apollo LM lifting off from the Moon, shot by the 16mm window-mounted, ground-facing movie cameras.

Also, I don't know how far off the sky crane will fly before it kamizes in, but I'd also be really interested in some views of its crash site if the rover's able to swing by there. I was fascinated with the MER rovers' close-up shots of the crashed aeroshells and heatshields that they transmitted back for the engineers.

I, for one, can't wait to see the fotos that the MSL sends back; if the MRO shots of the site are any indication, we're in for some pretty spectacular views -- "magnificent desolation", as Buzz Aldrin once said.

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Childcatcher

"well-choreographed thrusts"

You just can't say that. No way. The PC police will be after you.

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