"Canyon? But I was just following the satnav..."
NASA's famous nuclear-powered, raygun-armed Mars rover Curiosity has broken free of human control and made up its own mind where to drive across the rusty plains of our neighbour world, according to boffins at the space agency who were formerly in charge of it. Mars rover Curiosity route. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech No, I WILL …
"Canyon? But I was just following the satnav..."
Actually that does raise a question...
We're all very familiar with track maps like that here on earth, but that's because we can always tell where we are thanks to the orbiting satellites... But they're orbiting Earth, not Mars, so not much use there.
So how do they track the location of the Rover? I can only assume by dead reckoning, not exactly a million miles from a Logo turtle with left 45 forward 100... And we all know how quickly that become inaccurate!
...I haven't updated the maps and on my 3-billion year out-of-date set it shows a river crossing by ferry right at that point..."
Email from Garmin:
"Dear M. Rover, Thank you for your enquiry regarding updating the maps for region: MARS ALL REGIONS. The price for the one-off set is US$154million, this being the total for the Mars Global Surveyor mission divided by the number of active users in your area. I am sure you will agree that this is a fair way of pricing this update and I look forward to receiving your order soon. We recommend using fibre broadband for the download as it is a large map set and at your current connection speed it would take approximately 365sols to complete..."
Worst case scenario is that we take a peak through our telescopes (or if you want to get fancy, our satellites) and shout at it (via satellite) to correct course ;)
It would be nice if Mr Thumbs down actually expanded on his displeasure and explained how they do track said rover without a GPS system, network of cell towers, road signs... Or does the robot arm also contain a sextant?
"Make a U-tuuuuurrrrrrrn. Make a U-tuuuurrrrrn. Make a U-tuuuurrrrrrn"
Next thing you know it'll be picking up Spirit and Opportunity, hooning about pulling drifts to try and impress them.
It'll all end in tears mark my words.
It's a Mars Rover, not a Mars Civic.
OK, so it'll be wearing a cardigan and smoking a pipe then...
AC, oh how little you know about Rover [Metro, or even the new + old 200 series] drivers! ;)
How do we know some Martian hasn't hotwired it?
LOL! I just had a mental image of a Martian sitting on Curiosity like a go-kart trying to make it go faster.
Not to mentioned blinged it up a little.
Next thing we'll see, it'll have neon lighting under it, and thanks to the nuclear-powered sound system, will be bouncing along in time to the bass line of some Martian garage music.
"How do we know some Martian hasn't hotwired it?"
Cos I've not seen it on YouTube?
> LOL! I just had a mental image of a Martian sitting on Curiosity like a go-kart trying to make it go faster.
"Ooh this makes me very angry..."
Or a Kerbal sitting on it taking it for a "roll".
Kudos for anyone who gets the reference.
Curiosity killed the cat!
There's probably some spotty kid, sat in his bedroom in Shanghai or Pasadene, buzzing on cola and Chitos that's found this really interesting remote controlled device that he's hacked into...
Either that or it's being towed by the Martian equivalent of a clamping firm. Going to cost NASA 3 million quatloos to get it out of their vehicle pound.
.... it's not Howard Wolowitz with his "Hey, baby. How would you like to drive a car on Mars?" line...?
Wolowizard - awesome!
At the end of the rock... turn left.... you have reached your destination.
It's heading for Martian Hafords to add some bling and get the rover 'slammed'!
It was all going swimmingly until Captain Black let fly at that city.
Damn! I was kind of hoping for a nascent robotic civilization on Mars, leading in a couple hundred years to an interplanetary fleshy vs. robot war with the future of the solar system at stake....
how long does it take to go around the top gear track?
About 15 hours
Based on a top speed of 50mm/s (yes, that is millimeters)
and a Top Gear track length of 1.75 miles
Was the driving done by "our tame racing driver". Some say that under the white suit he actually is a little green man, all we know is that he is not the STIG, but his Martian cousin.
We've all been diverted from business at hand by something from time to time. (NSFW- naked martians!)
I still want to see a speedy autonomous lunar rover. It will be solar powered, and will drive itself around and around the moon, staying on the sunlit side all the time so it can keep going forever (or at least until some essential moving part wears out).
How fast does it need to be? The moon's circumference is 10,921 km at the equator, and the moon's day is 27.321582 of our Earth days, so that gives a straight-line speed of 16.655 km/h. Let's give it a nice round number and say a steady speed of 20 km/h to allow for course deviations to avoid big craters and mountains. That's not very fast. Way back in 2005 the winner of the DARPA Grand Challenge averaged 30.7 km/h.
The rover can be provided in advance with fairly detailed maps of a preferred route around the moon which avoids all the larger obstacles, so all it needs to do itself is keep an eye out for boulders ahead. It can remember where those boulders are for next time around, and optimise the route. It can then start trying alternate routes. In the event that it gets stuck in a dead end and dusk catches up, it can go into sleep mode and then backtrack the next morning.
It really would have to be autonomous for the times when it is on the side facing away from the earth as it would be out of touch, unless you have a satellite relay comms system.
I think it's headed for an illegal alien rally.
This is an amazing part of the future of technology.