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back to article NASA picks the target for Curiosity's first road trip

NASA has pronounced the Curiosity rover ready to get roving and has picked an interesting venue for its first roll across the Martian surface, but the probe has to shoot itself before it can go anywhere. At a press conference on Friday, NASA said that Curiosity will move towards a spot dubbed Glenelg, which is located at the …

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Trollface

What? NASA is into self-harm now?

Or to put it another way, they want Curiosity to shoot itself in the balls?

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Alien

Re: What? NASA is into self-harm now?

They are scale replica 'Alien' eggs, as practice for when it finds the nest (which is its secret mission).

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Alien

Re: What? NASA is into self-harm now?

"They are scale replica 'Alien' eggs, as practice for when it finds the nest..."

Are you sure? They look a bit more like GLaDOS modules to me...

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Alien

At least name the poor thing.

I realize they don't want to name every single pebble they see, but perhaps they could make an exception for the first poor bugger they're going to blast with their nuclear powered lasers.

Instead of N165, perhaps... 'Julian Assange'.

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Angel

Re: At least name the poor thing.

If they named it Giselle Bundchen (ie another useless hunk of material) and blasted it repeatedly, the citizenry would demand a doubling of NASA's budget.

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HyperRadioProActive IT in a GNUtshell ....... for Flash Cash Cache Crash Testing of Dummies

IT is all just more than a tad surreal, is it not, these great novel information games which are played out as alien realities in media programs with machines conveying the action and consequences to their biomechanical driver hosts .....human virtual terrain team players and/or virtual human terrain team players ..... Big Brother BioBots ..... which are barely a small step and a giant quantum leap into SMARTR Algorithm Programs for Command and Control of Planetary Curiosity and Universal MetaDataBase Exploitation ....... Imaginative Resource Application.

Or do you think that is much more suited to being a Leading Far Out East Indian Space for New Man Hunting Eastern Tiger Economies than Wild West NASA territory defined and confined by parameters and protocols to the refined breaking of rocks for a living ........ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/9480279/India-is-heading-for-Mars-it-doesnt-need-British-aid-money-to-pay-the-bills.html

Let the Eastern Train take the Global Runaway Strain with their Deeper Senses of Universal Understanding.

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Anonymous Coward

Ah, Glenelg

It is also, of course, a beachfront suburb in Adelaide. Terrible surfing. The waves barely come up to your ankles.

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MrT
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Re: Ah, Glenelg

"Terrible surfing" on Mars too.

The Scottish village was known as the gateway to Skye. Maybe the old Skye Boat Song also came to mind - features called Mull, Eigg, Rum, Skye, Charlie, and Flora to follow... though they might keep that last one for a particular discovery.

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1.5 inches per second?

I thought it would be at least in proper units, like 229 furlongs per fortnight. These seem better units for the rover anyway, as it might take a while to get to the first objective.

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Anonymous Coward

lazy reporting

So Curiosity has 400 meters to cover, and it moves at umpteen furlongs per fortnight. How much time does it take? Who the feck knows? Use the same units consistently and then, even if you're lazy, your readers can easily do the arithmetic for you. Ta!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: lazy reporting

So Curiosity zips along at about 11/16ths of a furlong per hour and needs to cover two furrowlongs - do the maths yourself. Readers of El Reg are meant to be hyper-intelligent mekon-brained boffin-types.

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Re: lazy reporting

Think your missing the point here....

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Re: lazy reporting

I think ElReg has failed the conversion test (Lucy will be cross). 1.5 inches per second should be 0.085 mph (not 0.06 as stated). So about 3 hours to travel 400m (¼ mile or 2 furlongs).

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Re: lazy reporting

If we could just stick to the standard units I'll know exactly what we're talking about. Distance should be measured in any of Linguine, Double-decker bus, Brontosaurus and speed should be measured in Percentage of the maximum velocity of a sheep in a vacuum.

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Re: lazy reporting

You failed to account for traffic at that time of day.

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FAIL

Re: lazy reporting

Um... if you put a sheep in a vacuum, pretty soon it won't have any speed at all...

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Re: lazy reporting

What if you put the vacuum on a train?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: lazy reporting

Look here, a lot of you need to go read this article RIGHT NOW:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/08/24/vulture_central_standards/

All done? Good, thanks for your time and (belated) understanding.

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Good job

Nobody else, including Spaceflight Now and space.com covered the laser self-test targets. Good on ya.

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Re: Good job

Any job where you can say "It is not only going to be an excellent test of our system, it should be pretty cool too" is a good job!

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Joke

Interrogating a rock

"Rock, take us to your leader"

Rock remains silent.

"Rock, take us to your leader or we'll blast you to smithereens with a laser!"

Rock remains silent.

Bzzzztttt - phoom warble warble bang!

Rock makes a large amount of noise for a split second and gets blasted to smithereens.

Wild cheers on Earth - "Earth one, Mars nil !", cue "War of the Worlds" soundtrack.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Interrogating a rock

I just got a mental image of Bill Murray's character off Caddyshack in the Nasa control mumbling his own storyline to the images on screen like a kid playing with dolls action figures.

Nice :)

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>400 meter roadtrip to the site, moving at its top speed of around 1.5 inches a second

Oh dear. Mixing units again. Does anyone remember the last time NASA mixed units on a Mars mission?

Anyone?

I hope it's just sloppy journalism this time.

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Perhaps they could stop for Pizza...

Curiousity might stop for a snack, along the way. Oops the only Pizza on Mars is awfully far away, though...

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Anonymous Coward

Yes, September 23, 1999, Mars Climate Orbiter lost.

The problem essentially was the difference between pounds and newtons in thrust as part of trajectory calculations.

Enttered orbit at 57km altitude instead of the intended 226km.

Have a look here, some other cracking software/units bugs, not just from NASA ...

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9183580/Epic_failures_11_infamous_software_bugs

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Yeah, we ended up with an incredibly expensive crater

that was 15 metres (19 1/2 inches) across, according to NASA :D

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I guess that there are SEVERAL pizzas on the Mars surface...

Given the 'hit ratio' for Mars Landers/Rovers, there are several places to find pizza...

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Anonymous Coward

space is boring

it has to go dead dog slow so all the sensors can work out if there is a hazard. no point barreling along at 30mph when the people on earth wont know you fell down a hole till 20 mins later.

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Boffin

Grand Challenge

In 2005 the first driverless vehicle to win the challenge covered 132 miles in just under 7hrs, about 20mph. So surely Curiosity could manage a bit more than 0.06mph?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Grand Challenge

Why? Its target is to go ~20km over 2 years... you don't need a hotrod to make that kind of time.

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Re: Grand Challenge

Aye, and it's not like the rocks are going to suddenly get up and walk away.

Though it'd be fun if they did...

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Facepalm

Re: Grand Challenge

Not only that, but the rover:

- has limited energy to use per day

- has limited cpu power to steer itself safely around hazards

- crew needs to get accustomed with driving, so it won't go at top speed for sure

- may find science underway that may arouse the scientists

- etc.

It's the first ride and there's no way to help the machine out of its pickles: it will take a lot longer than just a few hours to drive to Glenelg for sure...

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Facepalm

Re: Grand Challenge

DUH!

Its a GOVERNMENT program! They all move at a glacial pace.

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Re: Grand Challenge

the difference might be fuel and GPS. Very little energy/power on this rover for high speed travel and without GPS, they really have to keep tire slippage down to nil.

It's just a guess but this speed is probably the result of conserving power, limiting wheel slippage, and the 14 minute data delay.

So why are they not putting up a little GPS network I wonder.

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Re: Grand Challenge

Plus the guy operating it normally drives a Prius.

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Re: Grand Challenge

Not only that, but the rover:

- has limited energy to use per day

- has limited cpu power to steer itself safely around hazards

- crew needs to get accustomed with driving, so it won't go at top speed for sure

- may find science underway that may arouse the scientists

- etc...

Also, don't forget the radio lag; round-trip light time is something like 20 minutes, so you can't really drive the rover in "real time", like the old Lunokhod drivers back in the early '70s. There's a bit of a radio lag to the Moon as well, something like two seconds; this meant that astronauts on the Moon had to be a bit patient when talking to Mission Control, but the radio lag wasn't so long that it kept you from controlling a rover from Earth in near-real time. For example: when the remote operator of the LRV camera was shooting the LM liftoffs on Apollos 15-17, he had to start panning the camera up at something like T-2 seconds, so that the command would reach the camera when the ascent stage lifted off.

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Joke

Re: "not like the rocks are going to suddenly get up and walk away"

Well that's just the point . . . maybe this time they will !

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Mushroom

"We are going to hit it with 14 millijoules of energy 30 times in 10 seconds. It is not only going to be an excellent test of our system, it should be pretty cool too."

I'd have thought it would be pretty cool to start with, but after blasting the crap out of it with a laser it's fairly likely to be quite warm afterwards!

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Anonymous Coward

14 million millijoules

14,000,000*1/1000 joule ?

So how much is that in any unit I might acually undstand?

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Anonymous Coward

So, that's the equivalent of how many nanograms of TNT? ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Don't get lost!

Tie one end of the ball of string to a rock near where you start, let the string unwind as you motor along. If you do get lost, you can always follow the string back to where you started.

You remembered to bring the string, didn't you?

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Happy

Just boys with a very expensive taste in toys :o). Seriously though it must be fantastic to see a new world for the first time.

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Just sittin'

Curiously, the only thing that went through the mind of the rock, as the laser fired, was, "Oh no, not again!"

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Trollface

Now, now

What did the poor rock do?

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Arouse the scientists? Perhaps Curiosity will find some Martian women along the way (fully clothed of course)

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MrT
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They're all stuck...

... on Phobos...

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Im thinking we should stay away from imperial mesurements as it didnt pan out too well last time they were used on a space exploration.

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Mixed units

So one aspect of the Turing Test seems to involve incompetent Maths. Inability to juggle units or correctly compute 1 + 1 identifies a human being. Sad.

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Windows

I'm crap at math...

But I calculated about 10 hours.

However, mars rotates, and so some of the time it's not in radio contact (unless they've been a bit clever with Mars Orbiter). Nonetheless, it's gonna be out of 'sight' of earth for some periods of time. NASA's gonna be very, very careful with its new toy, they sure as hell won't drive it blind, so I'd guess we won't see anything for 3 days.

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TRT
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Mushroom

And then it's...

WHOOSH! with *our* heat ray. WHOOSH!

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