back to article NASA found filming August's Mars landing in California desert

NASA boffins have been found at a site deep in California's Mojave desert with a Mars rover of the exact type they say will land on Mars this August, filming the machine as it drove about among the Earthly sand dunes. The Scarecrow stand-in (for the Curiosity Mars rover) in tests in the Mojave desert. credit: NASA/JPL 'Hey, …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So we are sending a robot armed with a laser to another planet that is dropped from space at high speed and slowed with jump jets?

    Does this sound like sci fi to anyone else?

    1. David Given
      Thumb Up

      Don't forget that it's an *atomic* robot armed with etc...

    2. Aaron Em

      Sounds like Doc Smith to me

      Dropping planets from space at high speed? Klono's horns! -- who else would it be?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >"Who else would it be?"

        Fred Saberhagen?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So did they really land on the moon?

      1. Graham Wilson
        Facepalm

        Re: 'So did they really land on the moon?' - - Of course not, Stupid!

        By now, almost everyone knows it was all an elaborate hoax and onspiracy by Hollywood to make millions--twas just an updated ripoff of Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre 'The War of the Worlds' radio broadcast in 1938 but a generation removed (by then, they'd reckoned everyone would've forgotten version one).

        At the time in '69, I actually heard radio signals that were *supposedly* transmitted from Apollo-11 on route to the moon on a VHF communications receiver that was attached to an elaborate array of crossed Yagi antennae pointed in the direction of the moon.

        Very strange really. Despite considerable investigation, I've never actually figured out how Hollywood actually faked that bit. Anyone know?

        >:-)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      HELL NO

      IT ALL FAKE THE MOON LANDINGS THE MARS ROVERS AND THE OZONE LAYER

      1. Graham Marsden
        FAIL

        Dear Big Dumb Guy 555

        You're not big, it's not clever to write in caps all the time and your trolling is really particularly pathetic.

        1. Big Dumb Guys Wife

          Re: Dear Big Dumb Guy 555

          IF YOU MUST SPEAK TO MY HUSBAND PLEASE LET ME KNOW FIRST SO THAT I CAN ADMINISTER HIS PROZAC. HE CAN GET VERY ANGSTY WHEN TRYING TO GET YOU GUYS TO REALISE THAT ITS ALL FAKE. A BIT LIKE MY HUSBAND WHO IN FACT IS FOUR FOOT NINE AND HAS A PHD. BUT HE'S ALL GAY THO

          SORRY THAT WAS MEANT TO SAY GUY - DARN IT THE DELETE KEY ISNT WORKING NOW

      2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: HELL NO

        Yawn. 1992 called, they want their troll back.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Lighten up, meanies.

          Old jokes are often good ones, that's why they get to be old; nobody bothers to remember the shit ones.

  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Yeah Yeah....

    did you see O.J. Simpson hiding behind those dunes?

    1. jai

      Re: Yeah Yeah....

      why the downvote? that was a perfectly good Capricorn One reference, I was going to make it myself if no one else had.

      1. Steve Evans

        @Jai

        Because some people round here have the down vote connected to their jerking knee and not to any neurons.

        This time is was probably because OJ was on trial quite a while ago, and they thought mentioning his name was an insult to the dead.

        Who knows!

        Daily Mail readers get everywhere these days.

        1. Gene Cash Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: @Jai

          There's also the fact that I've hit the "downvote" instead of "reply" by accident at times, and you can't undo it AFAICT. Hey, if I was coordinated, I probably wouldn't be in computers!

          1. Fibbles

            Re: @Jai

            Doesn't upvoting cancel out a downvote?

            I've often suspected that there are some very sad people on these forums with multiple accounts. That way through the power of downvotes they can really show you how wrong your opinion is.

          2. Graham Marsden
            Boffin

            @Gene Cash

            I've just downvoted you: 0 Upvotes, 1 Downvote.

            Oh, no, I've just switched that: 1 Upvote, 0 Downvotes.

            On second thoughts, I'll put it back the way it was: 0 Upvotes, 1 Downvote

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Hah, yeah!

              You can change your mind to the opposite choice, but you can't unvote altogether. So I upvoted, downvoted, then upvoted again.

              Now me and Graham M. cancel out and everything from here on in is genuine!

              1. Graham Marsden
                Happy

                Ok, ok...

                ... I've changed my Downvote back to an Upvote.

                Now will the rest of you do the same for the 3 Downvotes I've received?

                1. Jim_aka_Jim

                  Re: Ok, ok...

                  can we have a 'no vote' vote?

                  ....Oh

                  DOH!

                  1. Chris007
                    Joke

                    Re: Ok, ok...

                    ok - you've been given a no vote as you asked for

                    ...damn didn't see that last vote, so you wanted a no vote vote :)

    2. Blue eyed boy

      Re: Yeah Yeah....

      No it was Elvis.

  3. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Just like WotW

    Even NASA's three-legged "fighting machines" are as described in the book - though they're smaller than I imagined

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "smaller three-legged fighting machines"?

      There you are.

      Deploying.

  4. wiggers
    Boffin

    Soil mechanics...

    Mine's a bit rusty, but I recall the angle of repose of dry sand is dependent on g, so presumably the dunes on Mars will be a lot steeper.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Soil mechanics...

      Surely though the amount of traction required to get up a steeper hill is lessened in lower gravity though?

  5. Martin 47

    Just practicing uh? Well they would say that ................

    Mines the coat with the tinfoil hat in the pocket

  6. jai

    a little late for testing?

    isn't it a bit late for testing? what if they find a complete show-stopper in their testing, like the sand gets in the motors and locks them up, or sticks to the comms gear and prevents them being able to control it? surely all this testing should have been done before the punted the other robot off towards Marx.

    1. honkhonk34
      Alien

      Re: a little late for testing?

      I think the idea is to give the operators some experience in how instructions sent to Curiosity will be carried out when it arrives.

      I'm sure NASA will have considered something as simple as dust getting into motors, man. If they hadn't bothered to think it through to such a basic degree I doubt they would have got Curiosity off the ground.

      I think ensuring the operators have a very concrete idea of how an instruction sent to a vehicle on a sand dune would be carried out (regardless of if it's here or Mars) is a very useful thing, and will reduce the chances of them sending an instruction which causes Curiosity to lose control and roll down a sand dune and probably explode 'cause of the nuclear reactor.

      Last thing we need is making the aliens on Mars mad at us for causing some nuclear pollution in their back garden!

      1. Don Jefe
        Meh

        Re: a little late for testing?

        NASA and dust don't have a good relationship you know. Remember how they failed to install simpl"window wipers" on the solar panels on the last batch.

        I grant you can't think of everything, but I also grant overthinking things for years can make you overlook the obvious.

        1. rakdver

          Re: a little late for testing?

          I guess they figured the window wipers would be pointless, given that the projected lifetime of the rovers was something like 20x less than the real one. I would hardly call that "overlooking the obvious".

    2. hplasm Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: a little late for testing?

      The chances of anything coming from Marx... are a million to one,said Engels.

  7. Mike Flugennock

    The "practice version"

    "...The lightened practice runabout also doesn't have Curiosity's rock-melting high powered laser ..."

    Well, hell, where's the fun in that, then? Crap.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: The "practice version"

      has two lasers of it's own.And a talking bomb...

  8. Aldous
    Pint

    Skycrane?

    Why? i know the atmosphere is very thin but wouldn't good ol fricton + parachutes (even huge ones)or even a rocket firing near ground (like one of the xprize lot did) be a lot less complex then a hovering platform that lowers the thing by cables?

    does sound cool though!

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Re: Skycrane?

      Unless it has changed since I last heard anything about it, the platform does not hover. The rockets are used to slow it's descent, and the rover is lowered on the cable. Then just before impact, the cable is hoisted in at almost the same speed that the whole thing is approaching the ground. In this way, the rover slows much more (although I suppose that the sky-crane speeds up!) The rover then gets a soft landing, and the skycrane smashed into the ground, it's job done (the skycranes job that is, hopefully the rover's job is jsut starting at that point).

    2. Beachrider

      Re: Skycrane?

      Parachutes weren't enough. This rover has wheels (not pads) and it didn't want to burn them with retro rocket fire (see Pioneer's Mars landing simulation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hH5pNFROlYU ). Spirit and Opportunity ultimately used airbags just like Sojourner, but their airbags were lowered-by-cable and slowed by retro-rockets just like Curiousity ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgUGBVzWnIk ). Curiosity is just too big for the airbags/bouncing method.

      ... they worked OK! Here's hoping for another one.

  9. Johnny G

    Overly complicated

    No doubt that smarter people than me have worked it all out, but it does look like there's a lot to go wrong with that landing procedure....

    If thrusters are really needed, why not mount then under the main rover? At least that would do away with the need for cables and winches etc.

    I'll be impressed if it all works though!!

    1. Rameses Niblick the Third (KKWWMT) Silver badge

      Re: Overly complicated

      I thought this too, looks really, really complicated.

      But then I don't do rocket science for a day job.

      1. Isn't it obvious?

        Re: Overly complicated

        Well, you hardly want to be trying to drive around having to tote your descent stage with you. (Though sitting on your descent engine is fine for stationary landers like Viking.) So you either have to drive off of it (a la Spirit/Opportunity), which is a problem for a lander as large as Curiosity, or you need to arrive on the ground without it.

        Actually, it's quite an elegant proposal; I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes. It's just too bad we'll never get to see the video the Martians take of it landing...

        1. Beachrider

          Re: Overly complicated

          Spirit and opportunity hit the ground in airbags. See the NASA stuff above. The point is good about having to discard the retro rockets with a rover, though...

        2. TheRealRoland

          Re: Overly complicated

          >Too bad we'll never get to see the video

          I'm sure that with some color correction, this video would look nice, uploaded onto YouTube.

          As an alternative, we can always ask amanfromMars to ask his friends for a copy?

          Not sure how copyright on Mars works, though. Don't want to get them in trouble over this :-(

    2. Christoph Silver badge

      Re: Overly complicated

      If the rockets are underneath you have to get the rover down from the top of the rocket after landing, and there's various things that could go wrong. Apparently the sky-crane worked out as more reliable.

    3. KayKay
      FAIL

      Re: Overly complicated

      And they will be lowering it on cables at an ANGLE of course? so as not to have the platform crash ONTO the rover?

  10. gc73

    Special Edition

    "Look sir, droids"

  11. Graham 24

    Delays

    I bet the really tricky bit is that Mars is a long way away (I mean, you think it's a long way to the Chemist, etc), and any image that the driver sees on Earth is already several minutes old, and any command sent will take several more minutes to get there. It's not a case of "oops, there's a sand dune coming up, I'll turn left"; it'll be more like "oops, there's a sand dune coming up, damm, I hit it three minutes ago".

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Re: Delays

      It might be to get hints more like "Always drive down the dunes directly, not cutting across at an angle"(remembering an old episode of the Fall Guy). If you drive the thing into a situation where it's lost control, even zero delay is bad.

      As far as actual driving goes though, I thought that they were pretty autonomous these days. Certainly the Euro one being put together recieves commands like "Go over there" and I think it just about does it by itself, without driving into giant rocks, sign-posts or rivers like human TomTom owners :)

      1. PeterM42
        FAIL

        Re: Delays

        I thing Airbus is a bit like that: "Pull Up, pull up" - "Nope, I am landing in the trees" - Paris

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    space , its really boring

    I would like to think otherwise but i imagine they are also getting lots of footage in the can from different angles to supplement the hrs of tedious non event we will get from the actual mission.

    No doubt armies of experts will fill the air with waffle while nothing continues to happen millions of miles away.

    The usual si fi/comic fans and bozo's will be impressed though .lol

  13. Christoph Silver badge

    "Scarecrow"

    They missed the chance to call it "Worzel Gummidge"?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And I'm glad they did.

      Seriously, after the heights of playing the third Doctor, to be a frikken' scarecrow? I was a kid at the time and it was humiliating and degrading to watch my former hero abase himself in that way. Let it be a terrible warning from history to all of us.

  14. Steve Evans
    Black Helicopters

    Yeah yeah...

    If they're not faking it, why did they plant a load of baby Martians in front of it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Details...

      Maybe it's just the way my monitor is set up, but it sure looks as if there's a guy standing at the top of the dune, urinating. ??

      1. Steve Evans

        Re: Details...

        Good spot!

        I think I was too busy checking out the girl's arse.

        1. The Serpent

          Re: Details...

          Damn, you beat me to it!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          RE: I think I was too busy checking out the girl's arse.

          Yes, moar pics of the redhead pls...kthnx

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Details...

        Or maybe he is aligning a camera on a tripod. Of cause the tripod leg you can see might be a straight none gravity affected urine stream.

  15. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    FAIL

    It

    wont stop the loonies claiming we never went to mars

    "that photo looks like a earth sand particle"!

  16. David 45

    Tricky stuff, eh?

    Bloody good luck if all this complicated gubbins goes according to plan. Must say, the vid. did prompt me to think of part of a Rube Goldberg machine!

  17. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    All I know is....

    That now I will be watching Curiosity's feed from Mars for the errant "Palm Springs 36 miles" road sign!!

    (And while I'm at it, Soylent Green is people! Thankfully they are people with good taste though.)

  18. ITninja
    Alert

    Skycrane

    The video did look like quite the complicated landing procedure! I hope to god the skycrane behaves and veers off like in the video, instead of setting itself down atop the rover!

    1. Beachrider

      Re: Skycrane

      Opportunity and his brother both has sky crane predecessors. See the NASA footage

  19. Charlie van Becelaere
    Alien

    Oh dear

    "The real Curiosity lifted off atop an Atlas V rocket stack on 26 November last year, and is now sailing towards a 5 August date with destiny."

    The real Curiosity? <snort>

  20. Shonko Kid
    Facepalm

    The look on their faces..

    When they realize they've got the real one in the desert and it's the fake one on the rocket.

  21. Xpositor

    Metric vs Imperial

    Let's hope that NASA have remembered the difference between metric and imperial measurements this time, and that everyone is working on the same basis.

  22. Wupspups

    Why is it when I watch the video clip I keep imagining a chap from Lancashire and his clever dog landing beside NASA's rover, then trying to feed it cheese (Wensleydale of course)?

    Apart from that the Curiosity landing system does look overly complicated with lots that could (and most probably will go) wrong. I hope it doesn't

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Look sir...

    ...droids!

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is the voice of the Mysterons...

    We know that you can hear us, Earthmen. Our retaliation will be slow, but nonetheless effective.

  25. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    So "just a test" then rather than an elaborate hoax designed to pull the space-blanket over the eyes of the taxpayers.

    But how do they explain the purchase order for "3 tons of red aquarium sand and assorted small rocks and other clutter"?

    I swear I saw a grinning skull around 3 inches in diameter, wearing a pirate hat peering out from behind a rock on some of the older footage, and on one photo I can clearly make out a sunken galleon wreck that can be no more than 6 inches long.

  26. jukejoint
    Coat

    A pocket nuclear power plant...

    comes standard with my Detroit 8000 Cadillac of the Senses, and the rock-vaporizing laser; in this vehicle the laser has been reconfigured to be able to convert into a 360-degree wormhole creator in case of sudden Rapturing or Unavoidable Law Enforcement. Unconverted, it will still dissolve nuts, their trucks, & truck nuts when commanded. The only flaw is that the PNPP is not configured to charge an iphone. It will, however, get a party line started.

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