back to article Curiosity success 'paves way for Man on Mars by 2030s'

The landing of a "one ton automobile-sized piece of America" also known as the Curiosity rover on Mars today could clear the way for Man's arrival within the next 20 years. NASA's Administrator Charles Bolden said that the Curiosity mission, the sixth successful shot at the Red Planet by his organisation, could lead to human …

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  1. Refugee from Windows
    Pint

    Nice one

    Good to hear it has landed safely, fingers crossed all the rest of the mission goes well.

    Pint- because they deserve it.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I just

    assumed all the patriotism was budget/funding inspired. In one case a speaker said explicitly that he was not going to name any of the other countries involved in the rover's instruments. OK, maybe it is almost entirely a US project (and hooray for them), but that did sound a little off to me.

  3. Captain TickTock
    Joke

    Struggling US automotive industry...

    ... tries new export markets.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Struggling US automotive industry...

      At least the quality seems to have improved.

    2. LDS Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Struggling US automotive industry...

      At actual fuel prices, I'd buy a nuclear--powered car...

  4. JetSetJim Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    WinXP vs MacOS

    Their engineers seem to have a bunch of shiny Macs, too (assuming they left the OS on it)

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/08/06/curiosity_landing/

    Thumbs up for the good work - it was probably quite tough doing all the calculations in hogsheads/rods/etc... :)

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: WinXP vs MacOS

      and in one view there was a whole load of Sun-badged kit as well. Looks like they're picking different systems where it's appropriate to do so, which is a change from usual government procurement and perhaps why it all worked so far!

      I'll raise a glass to the next successes.

  5. Steve Evans

    Nice one...

    When I saw the Horizon program last week I gave up trying to count the number of ways this could go wrong, so well done to them for getting Curiosity onto the surface intact and the right way up!

    As for a manned landing, I'd love to be a fly on the wall when they tell the boffins they need to learn to abseil! :o)

    1. RachelG

      Re: Nice one...

      humans have knees, and padding, and can auto-right themselves, and can probably just drop safely from skycrane height in mars gravity.

  6. NomNomNom

    Curiosity's laser rock weapon is cool and all but the robot itself is ridiculously slow so I am still betting it'll get flipped early into the fight by the Annihilator and I don't see how it can self-right itself so it'll be match over.

    1. Spoonsinger
      Mushroom

      re : it'll get flipped early into the fight by the Annihilator

      Ahh, but at that point it just overloads it's little reactor.

      1. Stephen 27
        Alien

        Just say'n

        I think you'll find that the reactor is a Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (pedantic). While it may generate a fair bit of heat, its not going to go critical. However if you pour a little Martian water on the Lithium batteries and short them out while cracking open the reactor you should have a nice little dirty bomb to scatter your competition :-P

        The Martians won't be impressed.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Nice

    As far as Remote Controlled Cars go, this is the top dog!

  8. Andy Johnson
    Thumb Up

    Lets Hope

    this one doesn't end up in a bunker too....

  9. Quinch
    Alien

    "Tonight there are at least four countries who are on Mars..."

    "At least"? Is there a hitch-hiker hiding in a trunk they can't remember if they let off?

  10. Irongut

    US leadership in space

    Yet they don't have the capability to send supplies or people to their own station in near Earth orbit. Yeah great leadership guys.

    1. Joe Cooper

      Re: US leadership in space

      We just launched supplies a few weeks ago. The mission was a success. We're upgrading it to carry seven people. Soyuz'll have nothing on it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: US leadership in space

        The other nations' units don't need to be caught by the Canadarm. Cargo - Dragon C2 took about 1/10th of what the ESA ATV usually takes up to it, 1//8th of the Japanese HII, and about 1/5th what Soyuz usually take monthly. I am sure the food was welcome, but might need a couple of years before it is ready for people.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: US leadership in space

        I am very happy that the dragon capsule was a success, but to put Soyuz down is bad form since the dragon being man rated is years away, and even then it has to be docked by an arm!!!

        The rest of the world is ahead of NASA & US private industry when it comes to space launch technology, the ESA, Japan & Russia all have automated cargo pods superior to dragon in technology, i.e. they are fully automated...

        Russia & China are the only two countries currently able to put astronauts into space..

        Nasa refused a place for China on the ISS program, I think they were embarrassed about relying on Russia...

        I think this is a great achievement, but NASA needs to acknowledge the non-US contributions to this mission a bit more openly and be more willing to co-operate.

      3. Spider
        Unhappy

        Re: US leadership in space

        some of the replies are disappointing. With the US having to use Soyuz to get to LEO and co-operating on the ISS there was that small chance we might not carry our petty nationalistic rivalries to the stars. Idealistic I know, but we could but hope.... shame to marr such a great achievement.

        1. Subtilior

          Re: US leadership in space

          Petty nationalistic rivalries provide the impetus to get us to the stars.

          The Europeans would never have conquered the oceans if they hadn't been divided into competing nations.

        2. RegGuy1

          Re: US leadership in space

          This is a fantastic achievement, and to wrap it up in nationalistic terms an easy win for a country that goes to the polls in three months. The nationalism -- as always -- is for the home crowd, not the rest of us.

          I agree nationalism is pants, but there are far too many stupid people out there who think it's great.

    2. NomNomNom

      Re: US leadership in space

      The US has leadership?

      1. ZeroSum

        Re: US leadership in space

        They will have again soon.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Anonymous IV
    WTF?

    Please could you run this past me again?

    "The parts are all designed to last three times their expected working lifespan."

    No, I still can't make sense of this...

    1. NomNomNom

      Re: Please could you run this past me again?

      I ran out of stack space processing that statement

    2. The Stainless Steel Cat
      Boffin

      Re: Please could you run this past me again?

      No, "three times the initial mission length" would make sense, or "three times the expected working lifespan of the rover as a whole" maybe. Then again, the RTG powerplant's expected to last 14 years, maybe the parts are designed to last 42 years?

      1. Mr Anonymous

        Re: Please could you run this past me again?

        Well Voyager1 is around 35 years old, 11 billion miles away, it's still letting us know what it's like out there, so who knows?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Please could you run this past me again?

          How long before someone reposts that xkcd cartoon?

    3. Dom 3

      Re: Please could you run this past me again?

      Just in case you genuinely want an explanation... the initial mission is two years long. The parts are deisgned to last for six.

    4. ZeroSum

      Re: Please could you run this past me again?

      The mission objectives are planned to take 2 years. The components are expected to last longer than that.

    5. FrankAlphaXII
      Headmaster

      Re: Please could you run this past me again?

      Alright, this is actually something I deal with on a fairly regular basis, so lets see if I can help you make sense of some of Uncle Sam's terminology. They're engineered to last longer than what the Agency expects out of them and much longer than what its budgeted for. It may be confusing to anyone who doesn't work for the Government in one of its science, engineering, intelligence or military agencies because it IS confusing.

      But Its a pretty common thing to encounter in the US Government, especially in agencies related to or descended from the Army, of which the Air Force and NASA are the two big ones.

      For instance, lets say I was issued three sets of Army Combat Uniforms a couple of years ago with a wear date of 17 Dec 2013. In a pinch they could last a couple of years longer (getting to a Clothing Issue Point during deployment can be near impossible, something the Army knows and realizes). On 17 Dec 2013 though, the uniforms would hit the end of their working/design lifespan and have already lasted much longer than their budget lifespan by a measure of years, however they will more than likely still be in one piece and within regulations, so they could still be used if I had no way of turning them in to get issued new ones.

      If you want to put an IT spin on it, the best way I can think of describing it would be the lifespan of a traditional mechanical Hard Disk Drive, in general they're engineered to last longer than the manufacturer expects, certifies and/or will warrant them to last, generally also by a measure of years.

      Yes its confusing and makes no sense, which are two things that my employer, The Government of the United States in general, excels at.

      1. Anonymous IV
        Thumb Up

        Re: Please could you run this past me again?

        Thank you! Enlightenment dawns...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Please could you run this past me again?

        You obviously didn't have any of those "special" Maxtors ;)

        1. FrankAlphaXII

          Re: Please could you run this past me again?

          No, I had a very "special" Seagate which I finally got my RMA for last week. It failed within a year of fairly light use.

          1. Figgus

            Re: Please could you run this past me again?

            "No, I had a very "special" Seagate which I finally got my RMA for last week. It failed within a year of fairly light use."

            Sounds like a "standard" Seagate to me, nothing special about it.

    6. Stuart 22
      Alien

      Re: Please could you run this past me again?

      Cuts no ice in Redmond. XP dies in 2014 and any planet that dares defy MS. You have been warned

    7. Charles Manning
      Boffin

      Makes some sense

      MTBF and all that.

      Some parts will fail long before their expected (ie. mean) lifetime.

      As soon as a critical part fails, the whole machine fails.

      Therefore, if you want a gizzmo to survive for, say 1 year, you build it out of parts that are expected to last a lot longer.

    8. RegGuy1

      Re: Please could you run this past me again?

      Anonymous IV -- what a cool name! (Twelfth century, I believe.)

  12. The Stainless Steel Cat
    Alien

    Does this mean...

    ...we'll get to hear from AmanfromMars again?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does this mean...

      He may be in hiding.

      1. Andus McCoatover
        Joke

        Re: Does this mean...

        Amanfrommars?

        Nah. Rumour has it NASA just dropped a ton of SUV on him...

        1. Graham Bartlett
          Thumb Up

          Re: Does this mean...

          Cue Blondie...

          And you get in your car and you drive real far

          And you drive all night and then you see a light

          And it comes right down and lands on the ground

          And out comes a man from Mars

          And you try to run but he's got a gun

          And he shoots you dead and he eats your head

          And then you're in the man from Mars

          You go out at night, eatin' cars

          ....

          NASA should be worried.

  13. Miami Mike
    Flame

    Obama didn't do this - NASA did

    Title says it ALL.

    1. FrankAlphaXII
      FAIL

      Re: Obama didn't do this - NASA did

      NASA did it but only with George W. Bush, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott's help, right?

    2. Andrew James

      Re: Obama didn't do this - NASA did

      Politician isn't one of the worlds best at getting vehicles and testing equipment to another planet - shock.

      Obvious statement, much?

      1. FrankAlphaXII
        Thumb Down

        Re: Obama didn't do this - NASA did

        He's spouting typical Republican propaganda. So I threw it back at him with three of my "favorite" Republican politicians.

        Just for reference about the time the Navy killed Usama Bin Laden there was a bunch of crap that went around on the social networks and internally on Army Knowledge Online that "Obama didn't kill Bin Laden, SEAL Team Six did", which is precisely what he's referencing.

        1. Local Group
          Meh

          Re: And Wellington did not win the Battle of Waterloo. The Anglo Allied forces did.

          And the operator of the drone that took out those nasty terrorists, didn't take them out. The drone did.

  14. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
    Boffin

    I hope..

    ...that they'll drive off to where the sky-crane crashed and take a look there. It ought to have dug quite a big hole, and that will really give a good view of the sub-surface layers....

    1. druck Silver badge

      Re: I hope..

      It's a shame they had to crash it at all. With 140kg of fuel left after dropping off the rover, it could have taken a bit of a flying tour around the crater looking for good places for the rover to visit - if it had been fitted with its own camera that is. Failing that, just performing a soft landing like the Vikings did, would have gained some data which could be useful to future (manned) missions.

      1. MrT

        Pre-programming required...

        ... unfortunately that would have to be decided in the interplanetary cruise phase as it would've run out of fuel hanging around for 28+minutes waiting to be told to go and land somewhere, even drastically lightened after the rover had been dropped off.

        I agree though - if they'd chosen to move away and at least attempt a soft landing then if a manned mission is really so near they could have a source of usable parts just parked up in a known location. Include some sort of deployable weather shield if needed to keep the dust off and they could keep it fairly clean too.

        1. druck Silver badge

          Re: Pre-programming required...

          It wouldn't have had to wait, after dropping off it could either have followed a pre-set path until it ran out of fuel. But looking at the end of the simulation video, I'm not the crane is stable without the load of the lander underneath it, so a crash may have been the only option.

  15. NomNomNom

    Human astronauts first landed on Mars in 2041. There would be 12 more visits between the years 2044 and 2102, including the construction of an orbitting space station in 2084. But plans to erect a permanent colony on Mars never gained sufficient political traction before the nanoplague catastrophe of 2130 lead to the collapse of human civilization and the extinction of all life on the planet shortly thereafter.

    The human legacy on Mars consisted of no less than 4,000 autonomous surface and flying rovers of various designs that remained trawling the martian surface looking for answers to questions that had long since lost relevance and transmitting back to Earth answers that would never be recieved.

    In time thanks to a coincidence of design and the lack of forthcoming orders from Earth, one particular rover type initiated a self-replication procedure. Due to inevitable slight replication errors a process of evolution was set into motion which would one billion years later see the rise of an intelligent species.

    Holding the 3rd planet in religious awe due to their more primitive forms still instinctively beaming transmissions there, probes were eventually sent out to Earth, a now barren, rocky and lifeless world. The discovery of fossilized biological lifeforms, a form of life that had not even been imagined caused shockwaves.

    The Martian civilization survived another 210 years, even colonizing Earth, before itself being wiped out by the development and deployment of nanotechnology. A fate that awaits all intelligent races and ensures the universe remains empty and silent.

    1. Andus McCoatover
      Windows

      Bloody Scientologists....

      All hail Xenu!

    2. MrT

      Sounds like...

      ... a plausible Hollywood pitch to me. Sign up Arnie, Summer Glau, Bruce Willis and Colin Farrell; give it to Andrew Stanton as a project and Michael Bay as director, then see the money roll in... or out.

    3. HMB

      Science Grade: Prince of Wales (E-)

      To call rapidly self replicating nanobots science fiction really stretches the notion as they're not really scientifically plausible in our current understanding of science.

      You want self replicating nanobots that eat anything? Leave a slice of bread out for a month and watch it go mouldy. Mould is severely limited in speed because chemical reactions take time. You can't change the laws of physics and chemistry.

      Grey goo style nanotech is a big pile of steaming BS.

      1. NomNomNom

        Re: Science Grade: Prince of Wales (E-)

        "You want self replicating nanobots that eat anything? Leave a slice of bread out for a month and watch it go mouldy. Mould is severely limited in speed because chemical reactions take time. You can't change the laws of physics and chemistry."

        Imagine that human beings, animals and crops suddenly had no resistance to mould. How long would it take for everything to die?

        1. John H Woods Silver badge

          Grey Goo

          ... not going to happen

          Empirically - nothing like it has evolved in 3.5Gy. Why do more complex organisims exist?

          Genetically - if it ever did, organisms would evolve resistance. Even if they did not, by the time everything was grey goo, some nanobots would get a replication advantage by organising themselves into more complex structures. So you would have a grey goo phase, but then it would go away again

          Thermodynamically - you can only get stuck with an interminable grey goo future if there is no more energy to go into the system. In which case it is game over anyway, goo or not.

  16. Spoonsinger
    Holmes

    Re:- probes were eventually sent out to Earth, a now barren, rocky and lifeless world.

    Nah, there would be cheese base lifeforms, which would take over the probes and expand at an exponential throughout the solar system and later the universe. Self replicating unintelligent Nano-tech wouldn't stand a chance.

  17. Pantelis
    Thumb Up

    Far into the future

    "and added that the landing would stand as a point of American pride far into the future"

    And far into the future you will have those that will claim it never happened and that it was all staged in the desert and a studio and will reinforce their position by arguing about how things don't look right or the dust that was lifted didn't correspond with the conditions on Mars, its atmosphere and gravity and so on and so forth...

    Congratulations to the all those that worked hard to make it happen; amidst a torrent of reasons to dislike the US of A these past couple of decades, this one stands triumphantly for!

  18. robp
    Thumb Up

    Brill, but it's still not...

    ....a Johnny-Cab!

  19. Craig 19
    Mushroom

    First sound recordings coming through now...

    AAKKK Ak AKK AKK AKKK AKK AAAKKK AAAAAAAAAAHK

  20. Chris Hawkins
    Linux

    Re: Re:- probes were eventually sent out to Earth, a now barren, rocky and lifeless world.

    "...there would be cheese base lifeforms,.."

    Wensleydale?

    Cue Wallace and Gromit!!!

  21. Robert E A Harvey
    Thumb Up

    Oh and

    Kudos to El Reg for the 'mars attacks' picture on the maun page!

  22. Solly
    Alien

    Meanwhile under the planetary surface

    One Martian turns to the camera and says "I, for one, welcome our six wheeled robotic laser wielding overlords"

  23. keylevel

    Biggest surprise...

    The BBC managed to drop the (2000+ channel) Olympic coverage to have it as the lead story on the news channel.

    1. Local Group
      Joke

      Re: Biggest surprise...

      Actually the biggest surprise was when NASA's rover was stopped at a checkpoint by a larger vehicle with a gun turret and Cyrillic letters spelling Phobos Grunt. After Curiosity showed it's papers, it was permitted to roll around and gather stones and dirt in its little marzipan.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "could lead to human exploration"

    Getting there's easy... getting back is where things get difficult.

    1. Oninoshiko
      Go

      Easy answer

      Don't.

  25. Sporkinum
    Flame

    Just saw Ian ask a question

    Nasa Rules, China Drools.

  26. scarshapedstar
    Thumb Up

    Big ups

    Just heard a Reg correspondent ask something at this morning's post-landing presser to the effect of "there's some rockets lying around on mars now, innit?" and it made my day.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    day 527 , still nothing to report.

    how long before they start forgetting to mention the time delay and pretend they are driving the thing in real time. Normal earth bozos would have already forgotten this fact the same day it landed.

  28. Deadlock Victim
    Thumb Up

    Watched it live

    And thanks to Ian for being one of the few journalists to ask an intelligent question at the press conference.

  29. Scott Broukell
    Pint

    Ballast

    I understand that during the descent they dumped, at just the right intervals, several 25kg blocks of Tungsten. Whilst not wishing to detract from a spectacular science/ engineering achievement, the use of such 'ballast' in order to adjust the crafts position in flight / descent makes me chuckle somewhat and I am reminded of the art of ballooning. Its those simple Newtonian principles of engineering / science and their correct application that make this, as well as the LOHAN project of course, such blooming good fun to follow. Beer all round chaps.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Man on Mars by 2030s

    ... Mars in man by 2015

    - the evening meal sorted for another day

  31. samlebon23

    Yeah, when we completely fuck up this planet, we'll have somewhere to go.

  32. samlebon23
    Megaphone

    Sorry, i didn't finish my post.

    We are creating death on earth, and we are looking for life on a rusty place like Mars.

    Just how weird the human mind is. I would say it's the end of the rational age, what's next? Who knows.

    1. NomNomNom

      what's next?

      hundreds of millions of people tune in to watch a few people jumping over a stick with a long pole.

  33. Toastan Buttar
    FAIL

    Human mission to Mars

    I think we should concentrate our efforts on making teeny-weeny little people who can be launched into the LHC to see sub-atomic particle interactions at first hand.

    Sounds about as useful, science-wise.

  34. John Sanders
    Facepalm

    You do not sell the skin of an animal before hunting it...

    "We're in no hurry, we have a priceless national asset and we're not going to screw it up." ®

    Why, why did they have to say something like that!??

  35. YouStupidBoy
    Boffin

    Good job and all, but

    First off, congratulations to NASA. Historically Mars has been a bit of a tough nut to crack, but if this new rover lasts half as long as the previous generation of rovers, with the instrumentation it has on board it should hopefully yield some interesting data.

    However I can't help thinking that we should dig ourselves out of the mess we're in before we blow what'll probably amount to tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars on a manned mission that (and I'm completely open to hear anyones ideas to the contrary) probably won't achieve much more beyond a "Look what we can do" feeling.

    They should put the money that would be used on this project into science programs for schools and science scholarships for colleges. Recruit the best astronomers, physicists, chemists, metallurgists, stick them in classrooms and lecture halls with state of the art labs and teach the next generation, who in 40 or 50 years will probably be able to do it quicker, smarter, safer and with the probable advances in technology could maybe turn a manned mission into the beginnings of a semi-permanent biosphere, paving the way for what would truly be the next chapter in the human race.

  36. Stoneshop Silver badge
    Coat

    Have they

    already had the cameras look at the wheels? Or rather, whether there's a Martian cat (deceased) under one?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Have they

      That's not the NASA vehicle. I've seen Transformers, and I know how this ends up.

  37. saundby

    Leadership, yeah. Like dropping Exomars from the budget, then trying to save face by taking $24M from the outer planets budget to "envision an architecture" for a 2018 or, maaaybe 2020 launch.

    Yeah, that's leadership. Stand on the funding of your predecessors today, strangle tomorrow in its cradle.

    And hope the voters forget yesterday:

    "In essence, it is the end of the Mars program," said Phil Christensen, a Mars researcher at Arizona State University. It's like "we've just flown Apollo 10 and now we're going to cancel the Apollo program when we're one step from landing,"

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