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back to article NASA brainstorms with John Q Public for 2018 Mars mission

NASA is asking for ideas from the general public for probes and tools to send to Mars in 2018, as part of its longer term plan to have humans visit the Red Planet in decades to come. "We're planning an agency-wide effort to look at Mars activities as we go forward, including the president's challenge to send humans into the Mars …

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What If Your Buggy Breaks Down?

Maybe it's time to experiment with dropping emergency packages on Mars. Right now, it would be to see how long they'd be reliable. They should contain LOX, water, medical supplies, spacesuit repair kits, and high calorie emergency rations. Once we have viable packages, they could be dropped around potential human landing sites.

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Black Helicopters

Re: What If Your Buggy Breaks Down?

I think it would be cool to have Dave Letterman take dropping to the next level <grin>. What would he drop on Mars? I have some ideas, but he has rights to his segment of the show.

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Coat

I'lll get my spacesuit...

mines the one with the one way ticket in the pouch.

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Paris Hilton

Re: I'lll get my spacesuit...

YOU DONT NEED A SPACESUIT YOU CAN BREATHE THE AIR ON MARS THIS IS JUST MORE LIES THAT BUSH IS STUFFING DOWN YOUR GULLIBLE THROATS AS A MATTER OF FACT MAN FIRST SET FOOT ON MARS BACK IN THE 1950S

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Anonymous Coward

Political problems aside

And disregarding the 'Viking may have found life' BS.

#1 A good nuclear power plant, you can do a lot more work and building with reliable power.

Even when it is old it will probably still be possible to extract useable heat for the habitat from it.

#2 Geophones and a drilling rig. If Oil is non-biological in nature (which I doubt, but you never know) then maybe they can find some and a whole lot of Earth dependencies fade away.

If there is no Life or Oil on the planet then we might consider the theory dis-proven.

At least they might be able to look for underground water with the rig.

I doubt there will be any ecosystem to worry about these two items disrupting.

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Silver badge

Re: Political problems aside

I like the direction but one point, drilling rigs are problematic in that they tend to be large and heavy pieces of equipment and drill pipe is pretty heavy when you start talking kilofeet depth. A better solution for such a remote application would be a small tunnel boring machine that can produce the well casing as it digs by combining the displaced dirt with some sort of bonding agent that could produce rigid walls. It would also be easier to make directional changes on the fly as required based on some sort of data acquired from embedded radar/sonar/seismic sensors.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Political problems aside

I don't think you can ship oil back to Earth. But I get the jest of your comment.

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Silver badge

Re: Political problems aside

Ac - if they find oil, then a way to get it back will be found *very* quickly - no more funding cuts in that scenario!

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Anonymous Coward

Seed it with life

Get some litchen or bacteria that lives at the top of mountains where the pressure is low and its really cold, drop it near some possible surface water and see if it can live and spread.

I'm sure if there is any other life on Mars it will be hard enough and wont mind sharing and lets face it, if we ever do go to mars it's going to get full of our shit

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Bronze badge

Re: Seed it with life

Seed it with life? Y'mean, just dump a bunch of bacteria and ilchens right out there in the wild, and let 'em multiply uncontrolled? I'm no planetary scientiest or exobiologist, but that sounds ilke you'd be begging for trouble.

Now, setting up a sealed, closely-monitored space for a carefully controlled experiment -- that might be worth a shot.

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Facepalm

Re: Seed it with life

Greenpeace in space...

Give us a break, there are no trees to hug up there mate

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Re: Seed it with life

You need a lot of life if you want to get some oxygen.

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Bronze badge
Stop

Re: Seed it with life

I have to agree with you.

IIRC, there is an international treaty that requires spacefaring nations NOT to contaminate other worlds, so just dumping such materials would be 'looking for trouble'.

And, ditto about another posters mention of "Greenpeace".

I remember the 'shit storm' that arose before the nuke powered Cassini probe was launched. Such an attempt will also result in serious litigation in an effort to stop it.

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Bronze badge
Terminator

Must do this...

Send one of these... no, two!

http://youtu.be/M-dLtFcP3aM

Yes, you can buy them from as little as £300, and they do walk and run and everything. Why has no one noticed some hobbies toy modelling groups have made robots better than anywhere else? Oh, and it happened in Japan first? Who would have guessed it. :D

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Silver badge
Go

Mars met station

There should really be a set of meteorological stations on Mars.

Needed for really understanding the environment, and will give a constant source of research data here on earth...

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Gold badge

Re: Mars met station

Don't know about a set (I believe that it takes a fair bit of hardware for each landing site), however the MSL does have a weather station on it.

Daily online Mars weather reports comming up soon

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Anonymous Coward

Watch out for the sharks

There is a bloody big shark in that Gale Crater. Stay out of the dust.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

Huh, I'm not so sure about this idea...

I'm sure NASA's idea is well-intentioned, but given the number of US states that have passed laws allowing the teaching of Creationism in public schools, and the spread of crackpot climate-change denialism, the number of Americans who still think the Apollo missions were hoaxes, and the generally piss-poor state of science reporting in the US media, I think that allowing the US general public to pitch ideas for Mars probes is a huge-assed mistake.

Seriously, NASA needs to stick with properly-trained scientists and engineers for stuff like that, instead of throwing it open to the American public who, these days, are generally rock-stupid.

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Silver badge

My first thought

Was how much of the potential Mars budget they were going to piss away on Web 2.0 and social Meedja bollocks.

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Self Expanding Factory

What you want eventually is the ability to make things out of local materials on Mars or elsewhere in space, because hauling it all from Earth is just too expensive. So for near term missions, I would send experiments in making simple things, like oxygen or collecting water, to demonstrate those tasks for later missions.

At the same time I would work on Earth and the Space station to prove out the next level of difficulty. An example would be extracting iron from the red rust on the Martian surface, which would later be used as building materials.

The end point would be a self-expanding factory that can make most anything you need on Mars from raw materials, but there are many small steps to take towards that goal. Start with the easiest ones, and work from there

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E 2

probe and tool

I suggest one of those probes that dentists use to torment their patients with, and for a toll I suggest George W. Bush.

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Bronze badge
Boffin

Constant-acceleration propulsion would get you to Mars in about a fortnight.

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and then another Fortnight

to stop. Otherwise you will hit Mars like a mega-meteor. .Since full-bore burns use up an entire rocket very quickly (15 mins). You would need 4*24*14 full rockets of fuel to start and another set of them to stop. Wheeeee

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Bronze badge

Re: and then another Fortnight

One week to accelerate, turn over, one week to decelerate. Total journey time, one fortnight.

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Bronze badge
Boffin

Re: and then another Fortnight

Mars is on average about 200,000,000 km away.

Accelerate at 1G for 40 hours gets you to 101,000,000 km. (D = 1/2*a*T^2 = 1/2 * 9.8 * (40*60*60)^2) Point your engines the other way and deccelerate at 1G for 40 hours, gets you to 202,000,000 km. Three-and-a-bit days to Mars. Simples.

Accelerate at 0.1G for 5.5 days (feasible today with solar sails, ion drives, nuclear thrusters) gets you to 110,000,000 km (1/2 * 0.98 * (5.5*40*60*60)^2). Turn around, decelerate at 0.1G for 5.5 days. 11 days to Mars.

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MJI
Silver badge

Return fuel

Or a way of making it.

Now this would be a usefull idea - ready for when man arrives - they can get home again.

Send them on a slow fuel economical route ready to propel the first people back home.

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