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back to article Curiosity Mars rover flashes pics of GREY drilled powder sample

Mars rover Curiosity has beamed back pics of what lies beneath the surface of the Red Planet, whose rosy complexion turns out to be just skin-deep. First Curiosity drilling sample in the scoop The sample drilled out of Martian rock by the mobile science lab appears to be a blue-grey powder, visible in the robot arm's open …

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Unhappy

Am I the only person...

... who think they should send a rover to mars simply to take same damn good pictures and explore? You know, visit some of the canyons, Olympus Mons etc? Drilling into rocks and finding out precise types and isotopes is very scientifically diligent but frankly, for most people its about as exciting as watching astroturf grow.

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Re: Am I the only person...

I still hold the belief that they should just send up a bunch of tiny robots. Literally remote control cars or similar. Send them out, with cameras, let them wander off.

The big science missions really need to focus on one thing, and they need to find the best place to do that (i.e. best rock, best strata, etc.). Sending out a bunch of tiny mobile robots with cameras, controlled by some primitive lander that can talk to them on NASA's behalf. If they break? So what, there's others. If they get stuck, leave them or get the others to help them out. If they find something interesting (e.g. that "metal object" crap the other week), swarm over the site from all angles with all nearby units.

You would cover so much more ground in so much more detail, for much less cost (and, hell, piggyback on the back of a "proper" mission if you like) and it would be good for actually *exploring* the planet. You could even let a few schools sponsor / control one of their bots each, etc. And because the build quality doesn't have to be enormous, you can send a lot more than you would be able to otherwise. The rovers covered more ground and more science than they were ever intended to, and I think a cheap swarm of tiny automated things would be able to find a lot more interesting stuff out.

We literally shoot darts at a planet and hope the things that look interesting turn out to be interesting when we're close up. I'm still hoping for a piggyback-mission that basically consists of a box which, dropped on an empty bit of the planet away from anything "serious" has a dozen or more little remote control solar-powered cars with cameras on that then wander off to do whatever they want. Maybe you could even blacklist areas of special scientific interest to stop them interfering with existing missions if you want.

I think the biggest problem, though, is really contamination. It would basically be impossible after that to tell if something found was native to the planet or introduced.

The science is interesting. But there's a factor of exploration, involvement, funding, and even just keeping people interested. I find the Curiosity rover too boring and slow to bother to keep track of. Sure, I'd like to hear they found something, but I found Spirit and Opportunity much more interesting. And at some point science will have to give way to politics, engineering, habitation, etc. Somewhere in-between I think is the sweet-spot for just letting a bunch of people lose on the planet to find all those quirky little things that we can't see and won't be able to touch properly for centuries.

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Re: Am I the only person...

Could be sponsored by Google Mars ? Craterview would be so much more fun than streetview.

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404
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Re: Am I the only person...

Was just commenting to the wife about the clarity of that pic - just like somebody was standing outside the rover and resisted instagram..

Would be a beautiful thing though.

Second thought: send a DRONE to mars and let it take some pics!

;)

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Meh

Re: Am I the only person...

"take same damn good pictures and explore?"

Ummm... that's what the robot-laser-tank is doing too, y'know?

"for most people its about as exciting as watching astroturf grow."

I'm sorry that science doesn't make you want to stand up and cheer. Why does it need to be exciting to be interesting? Why does it even have to be a spectator sport? Must every human endeavour be full-colour and worth of tabloid front pages in order to be worthwhile and financed?

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Windows

Re: Am I the only person...

>>I still hold the belief that they should just send up a bunch of tiny robots<<

I believe that there was a project planned to do just that (not sure if it is still active or not though). There have been a number of separate projects run by Universities / businesses that were looking at having small crawlers that would work in a "semi -intelligent" manner, co-operating when required and all sending data back to a central collection point for onward transmission. I saw a demo of one of these a couple of years ago and it was very impressive; but they still had some key bugs that they were working out.

I have to say though that I do still find all of the stuff being produced by the various rovers really fascinating. I just wish that I had more time to spend on following it; I'd really like to have the chance to work on some of the different research.

Oh well, roll on retirement. Maybe I'll be able to make time then.

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Facepalm

Re: Am I the only person...

"Ummm... that's what the robot-laser-tank is doing too, y'know?"

A picture of some dust isn't exactly going to engage the general public. Sure , its took some panorama pictures when it first arrived. But since then with a few exceptions its been "ooh look everyone , another rock!". Well excuse me if I yawn. I'm not saying the science should be ignored, I'm saying NASA should realise that for most people, even scientifically literate types, the exploration is the most exciting thing. So do both! Don't leave the rover trundling from one rock to another for a year - go somewhere!

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Re: Am I the only person...

The Ultra Long Duration Balloon project would be a good way to explore the martian scenery.

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Re: Am I the only person...

I was going to down-vote but, hey, it's only my opinion, and my opinion is that for Mars etc the science is vastly more useful than the entertainment.

If you only want three second highlights go watch US sports channels, they are brilliant at it.

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Facepalm

Re: Am I the only person...

"A picture of some dust isn't exactly going to engage the general public. Sure , its took some panorama pictures when it first arrived. But since then with a few exceptions its been "ooh look everyone , another rock!". Well excuse me if I yawn."

What the heck ELSE do you expect there to be in photos?

A chorus-line of tap-dancing aliens?

Maybe a Ferrari with a model draped on it?

Some nice seascapes featuring penguins?

"I'm saying NASA should realise that for most people"

Maybe they're too busy doing valuable research to give a crap if they're about to get voted off the X-Factor?

"Don't leave the rover trundling from one rock to another for a year - go somewhere!"

They ARE going somewhere. How fast do you think it can go, precisely.

And where would you suggest robot-tank going? The beach? See a waterfall? Taj Mahal? Or maybe somewhere kinda reddy, with rocks?

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Re: Am I the only person...

"my opinion is that for Mars etc the science is vastly more useful than the entertainment."

Please summarise all science learned from the Mars missions so far, plus the cost of obtaining it

Currently, I'd go for "We still think it might have had liquid water at some point", at the cost of several billion dollars.

Hell, by that standard, the LHC is basically kicking their backside at science value. Just about every satellite and extra-solar mission would out-perform it. And, let's be honest, the Apollo missions actually told us much more about the Moon than we know of the Earth so far - hell, they brought some of it back - and I don't claim for a SECOND that the Apollo missions actually achieved much direct science (lots of incidental inventions, and side-tracks, but it was mainly politics).

Now if we'd found water itself, or investigated the ice caps we think are there, or dug down and found something, or started some kind of actual science up there, then you might have something. But we've drilled a hole in a rock and wheeled so far over the surface (SO slowly) that we got a rover stuck after 10 years and still didn't really miss out on anything interesting.

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FAIL

Re: Am I the only person...

"What the heck ELSE do you expect there to be in photos?"

Something interesting. When the galileo and cassini missions went to jupiter and saturn they took endless pictures of the planets and their moons. Yes, a lot of that was for scientific reasons but a lot of it was because they looked nice.

"Some nice seascapes featuring penguins?"

Umm, they're supposedly searching for evidence of old seas. Or did you not get that memo because you were too busy composing your polemic?

"Maybe they're too busy doing valuable research to give a crap if they're about to get voted off the X-Factor?"

Fine. But if they lose relevance with the public then guess whats going to happen to their funding?

"And where would you suggest robot-tank going? The beach? See a waterfall? Taj Mahal? Or maybe somewhere kinda reddy, with rocks?"

Why not actually find out something about Mars and the wonders awaiting to be visited and photographed from the ground before you next make such a lame attempt at sarcasm.

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Re: Lee D

>Please summarise all science learned from the Mars missions so far, plus the cost of obtaining it

Mars is not made from gold and unobtanium. Oh, and we've learned how to send bots to other planets where the speed of light makes significant communications delays run around and do stuff, so lets say if in the future we want to mine rocks from there.

Real science isn't like the movies. Oh, and space is big and boring, pretty much the only place with interesting things occurring in real-time (on the human scale) is earth.

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Re: 'summarise all science'

Hi Lee,

Nah, I'm not going to summarize the science, and I said 'useful' not 'cheap'. In my defence I quote Lord Kelvin...

"I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science, whatever the matter may be."

I do like the idea of loads of little reconnaissance vehicles but it still seems to me to be more art than science.

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Holmes

Re: Am I the only person...

"Something interesting. When the galileo and cassini missions went to jupiter and saturn they took endless pictures of the planets and their moons. Yes, a lot of that was for scientific reasons but a lot of it was because they looked nice."

But... what? The whole planet is a red rock. I'm not sure precisely what kind of amazing landscapes you're hoping the public will be enrpatured by the and are worth spending of a few billion dollars on the world's most expensive and pointless photo-shoot for. "Oh, that bit there will make for a lovely landscape. Let's send a robot there just for that shot." Well worth it, I'm sure. Some people argue that it's pointless going and doing sciency stuff on Mars when people are starving. I'd argue that it's far more pointless and wasteful to do the same thing just for a National Geographic cover shot.

If we want to enthuse the masses about Mars exploration with pretty photos, it would be far cheaper and more efficient to get David Beckham to stand in front of a map of it in tight-fitting underwear.

Doing PR work expensively *on* Mars is an arse-first-stupid way about of doing things. It's far cheaper and more effective to get D:Ream's keyboard player to waffle on about it for an hour during prime-time. That's the PR work, and then the mission can concentrate on actually moving mankind forward, instead of indulging in the shite, vapid, shallow, imagery and sound-bite grabbing which is rapidly becoming the pathetic hallmark of mass entertainment in this century.

"Fine. But if they lose relevance with the public then guess whats going to happen to their funding?"

It'll stay the same, or be impacted by far less than the cost of sending a robot to Mars just for a photo opportunity? NASA funding is not an X-factor style vote based on page hits or viewing figures.

Thankfully we live in a world where the excitement level of a bunch of decidedly average people sat on their fat arses watching TV while stuffing Doritos down their necks merely decides what shit we have to listen to on the radio, instead of the focus of interplanetary exploration and the future of scientific research.

"Why not actually find out something about Mars and the wonders awaiting to be visited and photographed from the ground before you next make such a lame attempt at sarcasm."

Ten pretty photographs alone are not worth sending a camera to Mars for.

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Re: Am I the only person...

Agreed, and I'm very surprised at how many DV you got just for stating such a thing.

I got the same response in another article. I guess there are some people that are more interested in seeing a pile of dirt verses the various oddities so far produced and not explored.

The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. We've dumped mucho money into exploring mars over decades and....keep coming up with the same results.

I think that speaks for itself.

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Re: Am I the only person...

What have they done? spent billions of dollars and manhours on......the same damn things.

Again, I will say, there's some pretty nice pics they are taking of some interesting things. nothing alien, just curious anomalies. Can't explain some of it, just "eh, probably such and such.....but hey! look here! A plain old rock we DRILLED into! It shows signs of.......possible water on mars in the past!".

They've been beating that dead horse for quite a long time now.

And a probe to Pluto? what the hell? It's a damn iceball on the edge of the solar system. They can't even decide how to orbit it yet because new "moons" keep being discovered!

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Re: ...leave the rover trundling from one rock to another for a year - go somewhere!

Another ID10T with a 140 character attention span!

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Re: Am I the only person...

Yeah, well, I mean what's the big deal, eh?

The NASA geeks only managed to send a rocket 350,000,000 miles and land it's payload successfully within a 12 by 4 mile area.

No big deal eh?

Ah, actually, fuck it - you are the only person, hang your head in shame and go and read this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Curiosity

If your still not impressed, I suggest you go boil your head.

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Re: Am I the only person...

>... to send a rocket 350,000,000 miles and land it's payload successfully ...

A feat that deserves a song of its own, I think.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Am I the only person...

"Yeah, well, I mean what's the big deal, eh?

"The NASA geeks only managed to send a rocket 350,000,000 miles and land it's payload successfully within a 12 by 4 mile area.

No big deal eh?"

Yeah, you got a point, and so does everyone else stating...it's been done before, nothing exciting to see.

Nobody wants some sifi exploration of aliens, but.....a rock....we drilled in...a rock.....and found....possible signs of past water......that we've been finding....the whole time.......

did that slowly cause I can't use handpuppets to explain.

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Holmes

Re: Am I the only person...

"Yeah, you got a point, and so does everyone else stating...it's been done before, nothing exciting to see."

Tell you what then: How about you watch some sport - or whatever is exciting for you - and just leave planetary exploration off you list of exciting things to watch, instead of suggesting that a multi-billion dollar program be moulded to your whims for the sake of entertainment and for a photograph that you'll look at for all of fifteen second.

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Re: Am I the only person...

It is so depressing that there are some people that think everything should be "exciting" in the sense of full of spectacle. The wonders of this mission just fly past them - what an empty life.

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Joke

Re: Am I the only person...

So what you saying is your boring me now?

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Facepalm

Re: Am I the only person...

"Yeah, you got a point, and so does everyone else stating...it's been done before, nothing exciting to see."

So... there's nothing exciting and new about firing a multi-ton laser-toting tank a third of a billion miles, dropping it on a planet at 25,000mph and then landing it by lowering it from a rocket-powered crane to look for signs that we are not alone in the universe and probe and wonder at our our own origins?

Your life must be very joyless.

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Joke

Anyone?

Dust. Anybody? No? High in fat, low in fat? Dust. Anybody? No? Dust. Anybody? No? Dust. Anybody? No? Dust. Anybody? No? Dust. Anybody? No? Dust. It's actually very low in fat. You can have as much dust as you like.

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Rust

Is Curiosity rusting? That scoop looks pretty manky, won't that mess up any analysis results?!

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Re: Rust

Pretty sure that's just more dust. They don't call it the red planet because it's a commie.

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Boffin

Define "drilling"

"Curiosity bored into the planet nearly two weeks ago, making a 2.5-inch (6.4cm) hole in the Martian bedrock, the first time any rover has ever drilled into a rock beyond Earth."

Not quite true, the Mars twins Spirit & Opportunity had the Rock Abrasion Tools and allowed them to drill 5mm into rocks. Granted this is the first time anything's analysed the rock fragments (Spirit/Opportunity just analsyed the layer of rock that was exposed), but let's ditch the hyperbole - Curiosity is impressive enough without the made-up records.

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Re: Define "drilling"

Also, it is worth remembering that the later Apollo flights had core sampling drills with them too.

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Re: Define "drilling"

Somehow I think if you start calling the Apollo astronauts rovers though they'll get a bit upset.

OK so they were driving one on a couple of the missions, but that was more a means to get about.

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Re: Define "drilling"

Ah, misread article. Point noted.

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Coat

Oh K9, you shouldn't be snorting that

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Trollface

Looks like

they forgot to empty the ash tray before they packed it up and shipped it to Mars.

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Can this be?

The brown part to the right of the scoop looks like it's held together with cable ties, or possibly even extra-log wire bag ties.

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Holmes

Re: Can this be?

So? You want to tie up any cables so that they don't chafe, dangle about and possibly jam moving parts such as that robot arm. Whether you do so by using Ty-Raps[tm], cable bundling twine (waxed), Sellotape or Virginia Creeper Vine tendrils is irrelevant, as long as the stuff is certified for Prolonged Martian Exploration and expected to hold the cables in place well beyond the end of the mission.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Can this be?

And cheap at $10k/inch ?

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Re: Can this be?

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-09/ancient-mariner-style-knots-tie-down-mars-rover-curiositys-cables-knot-fans-delight

A little more high tech then you make it out to be.

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Twisted Metal

I find the photo inspirational, because it seems they chose to use Alligator Baggies - http://www.flickr.com/photos/wafflewhiffer/8356222283/ - twist ties to cinch the rover together. One thing Nasa, you may have wanted to give the ties one last twist before sending it off into outer space. I've used those ties to keep my camper shell on the back of my truck. I should have used duct tape and bailing wire instead.

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Bah!

I could be wrong but I think my cat just took a dump in some powdered "John Klein".

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Joke

Oh, come on...

...any fule kno that dust is just the drillings from the concrete studio floor.

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