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   Undertoad  Monday Jan 5 12:09 PM

1/5/2004: Welcome to Mars



Suggested by elspode. This is the widest IotD ever
posted at 1900 pixels wide, and will cause the terrible
horizontal scrolling that we all hate so much, but for once
it's really warranted.

Because this is fucking MARS you're looking at! Come on
people!

It's a 360 degree pan from NASA's Spirit, a "rover" about
the size of a golf cart.

Apparently the landing spot was just about as ideal as they
could hope for. There's room for the rover to move around;
it's not on too sharp an angle; there aren't boulders
for it to get hung up on.

Today they reported that the rover was able to figure out
where the sun is, which meant it could figure out its
Martian heading, which meant it could figure out how to
point its "high gain" antenna back at Earth. It had to get
it pointed within a couple of degrees. And it did. It
used the same navigation techniques as ancient
mariners used. It simply used them on another
planet.


And thus they are now able to get 11850 bps downloads
from Mars to Earth. That's two 56K modems' worth of
bandwidth to send back all the Martian science-porn the
rover can find.

Today they will send back the first color photos... and we'll
see if they make tomorrow's IotD.



Griff  Monday Jan 5 12:27 PM

"It simply used them on another
planet."

Long low whistle...



juju  Monday Jan 5 12:48 PM

This is so cool when it works.

What has become of the second one, Opportunity? Is it still in transit?



Serk  Monday Jan 5 01:20 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by juju
What has become of the second one, Opportunity? Is it still in transit?
The second one is due to arrive in 'late January'... (Or so I've read in one of the news articles about this one...)


Archer  Monday Jan 5 01:21 PM

Juju, yes Opportunity is still in transit. Scheduled to land on Jan 24th. If all goes well, it will be (more or less) on the opposite side of the planet from Spirit.



quzah  Monday Jan 5 01:27 PM

Here's a big to all the people bitching about how NASA is a waste of money. I saw these pictures the day they were first released. Very very cool. I love space pics. (Even if the moon landing was fake... (that was required you know))

Quzah.



blue58  Monday Jan 5 03:58 PM

Quote:
And thus they are now able to get 11850 bps downloads
So how long do these signals actually take to get to Earth? Radio signals?

Also it seems the rovers got there in about seven months or so, but I thought they always projected a manned trip to be a 3 year ride?

I tried explaining all this to my wife but just ended up sounding like a big fat idiot.


juju  Monday Jan 5 04:02 PM

I believe it is radio signals. On their website, they say that they transmit in the "X band".



Griff  Monday Jan 5 04:07 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by quzah
Here's a big to all the people bitching about how NASA is a waste of money.
I could have done it better, faster, and cheaper. That doesn't make it any less cool.


Happy Monkey  Monday Jan 5 04:29 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by Griff
I could have done it better, faster, and cheaper.
In what role? Administrator? Engineer? Research?


Serk  Monday Jan 5 07:12 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by blue58
Also it seems the rovers got there in about seven months or so, but I thought they always projected a manned trip to be a 3 year ride?
The reason I've read is that with human cargo, they can't exert the tremendous acceleration and de-celeration G forces that they can put a mechanical probe through, thus a manned mission would have to go slower, plus not take quite as efficient of a route...

Us human's are just too fragile for that.....


Griff  Monday Jan 5 08:05 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by Happy Monkey
In what role? Administrator? Engineer? Research?
holder of the checkbook


Undertoad  Monday Jan 5 09:14 PM

This project is private the other direction G - large parts of it are built by private firms with contracts. I don't know how much.



dasviper  Monday Jan 5 11:13 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by blue58

So how long do these signals actually take to get to Earth? R
About 10 minutes, I'm told.


dasviper  Monday Jan 5 11:16 PM

Re: 1/5/2004: Welcome to Mars

Quote:
Originally posted by Undertoad

And thus they are now able to get 11850 bps downloads
from Mars to Earth. That's two 56K modems' worth of
bandwidth to send back all the Martian science-porn the
rover can find.

Hmmm... 11,850 bps = 11 kbps. More like an old-school 9600 baud jobbie. Now that was porn surfing! "Wait... wait... I think that's a nipple.... Damn it! Hang up the phone, Kevin!"


sniglet  Monday Jan 5 11:36 PM

Re: 1/5/2004: Welcome to Mars

Quote:
Originally posted by Undertoad
[B
Suggested by elspode. This is the widest IotD ever
posted at 1900 pixels wide, and will cause the terrible
horizontal scrolling that we all hate so much, but for once
it's really warranted.[/b]
Not if your computer has more than one monitor.


xoxoxoBruce  Monday Jan 5 11:47 PM

Excellent choice UT. History in the making and as Walter Cronkite used to say "And you,....were there.".



Elspode  Tuesday Jan 6 01:03 AM

Quote:
Originally posted by Serk


The reason I've read is that with human cargo, they can't exert the tremendous acceleration and de-celeration G forces that they can put a mechanical probe through, thus a manned mission would have to go slower, plus not take quite as efficient of a route...

Us human's are just too fragile for that.....
There are a number of concerns regarding duration of manned flight to Mars, but most of them are related to efficiency vs flight time vs mass to be transported vs distance to Mars at the time of liftoff. There are plenty of ways to bleed off velocity slowly, and acceleration doesn't have to high to get to Mars...it just gets you there faster because you don't have to aim so far ahead of the planet in its orbit to get there at a slower speed.

The tricky part is figuring out the optimal combination of flight duration (you don't want your astronauts floating around weightless for too long, or they won't be able to do anything when they get there) and mission goals, with a touch of "how long do we stay there" thrown in for good measure.

Humans are more fragile than machines, to be sure, but that isn't the only limitation in a speedy traverse.


OnyxCougar  Tuesday Jan 6 01:11 AM

**looks at her watch and waits for tw to rant**



juju  Tuesday Jan 6 02:18 AM

Not unless there's a political angle. On the other hand, if he happens to have a space magazine on hand to scan in..



hermex  Tuesday Jan 6 02:51 AM

Are we sure it didn't land somewhere in Nevada by accident?



mrputter  Tuesday Jan 6 05:46 AM

Short memories?

Not to detract from the coolness of this picture (which I agree is impressive), but has everyone totally forgotten about 1997's <A HREF="http://www.cnn.com/TECH/9707/06/mars.wrap/">pathfinder</A> (which sent its own <A HREF="http://www.cnn.com/TECH/9707/06/mars.wrap/panorama.lg.jpg">panoramas</A> back as well)?

It's just that everyone seems to be going on about how novel this all is -- as if it's the first time -- and nary a word about the sojourner/pathfinder expedition... I tend to wonder...



xoxoxoBruce  Tuesday Jan 6 06:23 AM

It's like sex in that the 2nd time is just as cool and in many ways better.



Beletseri  Tuesday Jan 6 07:53 AM

I bet the Brits aren't all that happy at the moment.



Slartibartfast  Tuesday Jan 6 08:37 AM

I hope they name the rocks something more creative than last time. I really got sick of hearing about Barnacle Bill and friends.

Maybe they should name the rocks after recent celebrity fuck-ups.

Hey, look at Spirit nudging up against Britney Spears.

Or... look at Spirit being fed by Jeff Corwin who is carrying a baby.
He really shouldn't take a child to such a dangerous planet...




SteveDallas  Tuesday Jan 6 09:15 AM

Re: Short memories?

Quote:
Originally posted by mrputter

It's just that everyone seems to be going on about how novel this all is -- as if it's the first time -- and nary a word about the sojourner/pathfinder expedition... I tend to wonder...
Oh, come on!! What do you expect... you want people to remember something that happened seven years ago? You're lucky they remember one scandal du jour after the next one starts.

Anyway. All this Mars business is interesting, but I just hope we're finally able to succeed in landing people on the moon. Now THAT would be a cool accomplishment!!


deepandchilled03  Tuesday Jan 6 09:51 AM

I wonder if the Spirit or Opportunity can try and see if the European Beagle made it or not?




Kitsune  Tuesday Jan 6 11:08 AM

Quote:
Originally posted by blue58

So how long do these signals actually take to get to Earth? Radio signals?
If I remember correctly, and dammit I can't find the source, it takes 3.5 minutes to get a command to Mars via radio and 3.5 minutes to get an acknowledgement back from the rover due to distance. So seven minutes after they've sent "move forward", they actually know that it has.

You may have had fun as a kid trying to keep your R/C car from accidentally finding its way into the storm drain on the street -- imagine doing it with that much of a delay! (It also helps, of course, that the rover is intelligent enough to know not to go off of a cliff, into a rock, etc.)


Kitsune  Tuesday Jan 6 11:12 AM

...and for anyone interested in trying their hand at the NASA simulator, it has been made public at various university mirrors such as the one below:

ftp://ftp.net.usf.edu/pub/maestro

I haven't tried it, yet (can't FTP from work), but a friend explained that it it rather irritatingly slow, being a 40Mb java application. Yuck!



chrisinhouston  Tuesday Jan 6 11:38 AM

My inlaws live in Arizona in general area of the greater Mohave Desert basin. When I saw the first pictures from Mars I told my wife that her dad had sent us some pics of their backyard for New Years!

She was not amused.



xoxoxoBruce  Tuesday Jan 6 01:10 PM

Re: Re: Short memories?

Quote:
Originally posted by SteveDallas
Anyway. All this Mars business is interesting, but I just hope we're finally able to succeed in landing people on the moon. Now THAT would be a cool accomplishment!!
Don't be silly, they'd sink into the cheese.


tjennings  Tuesday Jan 6 08:35 PM

With the apparent Mars mission curse that has plagued us earthlings for the last several missions, I wonder if NASA has considered the possiblity that the second lander would fall on and obliterate their first lander. Calculating the odds of that would be a good task to keep an intern busy for a week or so.

That would be a press conference to behold.



Elspode  Tuesday Jan 6 11:30 PM

It *would* be quite the colossal fuckup, since the second lander is supposed to land clean on the other side of the planet. Of course, that distance is a relatively small fraction of the total distance the lander has travelled, so it would still be a very near miss by outer space standards...



tw  Wednesday Jan 7 03:01 AM

Quote:
Originally posted by Kitsune
If I remember correctly, and dammit I can't find the source, it takes 3.5 minutes to get a command to Mars via radio and 3.5 minutes to get an acknowledgement back from the rover due to distance. So seven minutes after they've sent "move forward", they actually know that it has.
At about 103 million miles distant, that would be about 9.25 minutes to get a signal out or 18.5 minutes for a full duplex response.


Mojo The Monkey  Wednesday Jan 7 11:27 AM

Quote:
Originally posted by tw
At about 103 million miles distant, that would be about 9.25 minutes to get a signal out or 18.5 minutes for a full duplex response.
The distance to Mars is variable, so the communication lag is variable, too. I think the longest lag (if Earth is on one side of the sun, and Mars is on the other) would be something like 44 minutes.


tw  Friday Jan 9 06:17 AM

Quote:
Originally posted by Mojo The Monkey
The distance to Mars is variable, so the communication lag is variable, too. I think the longest lag (if Earth is on one side of the sun, and Mars is on the other) would be something like 44 minutes.
One reason why this mission has a 'window' is that Mars is currently so close to earth. At its closest, Mars would be 35 million miles or 6.25 minutes full duplex communication. Current distance last reported was 103 million miles. Max distance (when sun did not obstruct communication) would take something like 44 minutes full duplex.


glatt  Friday May 14 11:18 AM

NASA has a pretty neat picture up of the rover Opportunity driving around the rim of a deep crater. The 1MB high resolution version clearly shows the tire tracks going off into the distance around the crater.

The rover has already exceeded all expectations for longevity. Scientists are thinking now that it might last for years.




jaguar  Friday May 14 11:39 AM

Quote:
The distance to Mars is variable, so the communication lag is variable, too. I think the longest lag (if Earth is on one side of the sun, and Mars is on the other) would be something like 44 minutes.
I guess the first base is going to have a bitch of a time joining a quake game with that kind of ping.


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