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Mars is hard

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Kraken
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Mars is hard

Post by Kraken »

Especially for the Russians.
MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian spacecraft on its way to Mars with 12 tons of toxic fuel is stuck circling the wrong planet: ours. And it could come crashing back to Earth in a couple of weeks if engineers can't coax it back on track.

Space experts were hopeful Wednesday that the space probe's silent engines can be fired to send it off to Mars. If not, it will plummet to Earth. But most U.S. space debris experts think the fuel on board would explode harmlessly in the upper atmosphere and never reach the ground.

The launch mishap was the latest in a series of recent Russian failures that have raised concerns about the condition of the country's space industries.

The unmanned $170 million Phobos-Ground craft successfully got into orbit, propelled off the ground by a Zenit-2 booster rocket just after midnight Moscow time Wednesday (2016 GMT Tuesday) from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. After separating from its booster, 11 minutes later, it was supposed to fire its engines twice and head to Mars.

Neither engine fired. So the spacecraft couldn't leave Earth's orbit, flying between 129 and 212 miles above Earth. And that orbit is already deteriorating, according to American satellite tracking.
This very ambitious mission is supposed to touch down on Phobos and return soil samples to Earth. Russian Mars probes have been jinxed throughout the space age...they ought to stick with Venus. I hope they can salvage this probe.

Here's hoping that NASA's Curiosity launch (just over 2 weeks away) fares better. I've been following Curiosity on Facebook for so long that I feel really invested in this mission. For an idea of the stakes involved, compare Curiosity's $2.3 billion price tag with the Russian mission's $170 million.

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Grundbegriff »

Kraken wrote:
MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian spacecraft on its way to Mars with 12 tons of toxic fuel
Wait-- aren't they taking this "Red Planet" thing a bit too seriously?

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by DD* »

In Soviet Russia, planet comes to space probe!
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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Odin »

DD* wrote:In Soviet Russia, planet comes to space probe!
Aw, my first thought was to go Yakov, too, but I was too slow.

They should just have Vladamir SuperPutin fly up there and toss it out into the correct trajectory.

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Holman »

I'm excited about Curiosity too. Mars needs robots!
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Re: Mars is hard

Post by hepcat »

Image

I said lunch, not launch!
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Re: Mars is hard

Post by DD* »

Holman wrote:I'm excited about Curiosity too. Mars needs robots!
Um, it already has them - just watch Transformers #1. QED.
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Re: Mars is hard

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DD* wrote:
Holman wrote:I'm excited about Curiosity too. Mars needs robots!
Um, it already has them - just watch Transformers #1. QED.
Um, guys?
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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Holman »

Something that floors me: when my grandmother was born, we didn't even have powered flight. Now my kids are just learning about science, and we have robots on Mars.
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Re: Mars is hard

Post by The Meal »

Holman wrote:Something that floors me: when my grandmother was born, we didn't even have powered flight. Now my kids are just learning about science, and we have robots on Mars.
Orville Wright: August 19, 1871 – January 30, 1948
Neil Armstrong: born August 5, 1930

That's the one that blows me away. These two guys were on the planet overlapping 18 years. Guy that invented the airplane and the first dude to walk on the moon. Yowza.

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Kraken »

Holman wrote:Something that floors me: when my grandmother was born, we didn't even have powered flight. Now my kids are just learning about science, and we have robots on Mars.
When I was in grade school, before the Mariner flybys, we still thought Mars had canals and seasonal blooms of vegetation. After Mariner 9 we thought it was as dry and dead as the moon. Our contemporary view didn't start to take shape until the Viking landings in 76.

But then, while the Vikings were under development we assumed that astronauts would follow them to Mars in the 1980s...and now we're talking about maybe the 2030s at the earliest. So it hasn't all been progress.

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Re: Mars is hard

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Enough wrote:
DD* wrote:
Holman wrote:I'm excited about Curiosity too. Mars needs robots!
Um, it already has them - just watch Transformers #1. QED.
Um, guys?
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Just more propaganda. I used the online analyzer and that was clearly photoshopped.
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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Vorret »

Kraken wrote:
Holman wrote:Something that floors me: when my grandmother was born, we didn't even have powered flight. Now my kids are just learning about science, and we have robots on Mars.
When I was in grade school, before the Mariner flybys, we still thought Mars had canals and seasonal blooms of vegetation. After Mariner 9 we thought it was as dry and dead as the moon. Our contemporary view didn't start to take shape until the Viking landings in 76.

But then, while the Vikings were under development we assumed that astronauts would follow them to Mars in the 1980s...and now we're talking about maybe the 2030s at the earliest. So it hasn't all been progress.
Yeah it's been going at a very slow pace.
We need bigger spacecraft :)
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Re: Mars is hard

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I know we like to complain about the stagnation of the Space Race and all that, but really... less than a century from Kitty Hawk to Mars-bots is pretty impressive. Especially when it costs so much and when the incentive is science instead of conquest, and when the powers involved have had so many other things on their minds.
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Re: Mars is hard

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Holman wrote:I know we like to complain about the stagnation of the Space Race and all that, but really... less than a century from Kitty Hawk to Mars-bots is pretty impressive. Especially when it costs so much and when the incentive is science instead of conquest, and when the powers involved have had so many other things on their minds.
It really is one of the more noble pursuits of humanity. Nothing lifts up and galvanizes a populace more than watching things like a moon landing or viewing pictures of extraterrestrial vistas. I know it's a lot of money for oftentimes very little actual return, but I truly think the intangible returns are what makes it worthwhile.
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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Kraken »

T minus 1 week until Curiosity launches. NASA gave the Go to start the countdown today.

The Russian Phobos mission is still lost in space, and very likely unrecoverable, although they say the craft is still theoretically salvageable until the first week of December.

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Scuzz »

hepcat wrote:
Holman wrote:I know we like to complain about the stagnation of the Space Race and all that, but really... less than a century from Kitty Hawk to Mars-bots is pretty impressive. Especially when it costs so much and when the incentive is science instead of conquest, and when the powers involved have had so many other things on their minds.
It really is one of the more noble pursuits of humanity. Nothing lifts up and galvanizes a populace more than watching things like a moon landing or viewing pictures of extraterrestrial vistas. I know it's a lot of money for oftentimes very little actual return, but I truly think the intangible returns are what makes it worthwhile.
If there actually had been Martians to conquer we probably would be there by now.

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Holman »

Noble pursuits of humankind are OK, but I'm still going to be pissed if the first flag on Mars is Chinese.
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Re: Mars is hard

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Click to embiggen the complete history of Mars exploration.

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Kraken »

Curiosity is on its way! And now nothing much happens until August.

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Mars is hard

Post by Fretmute »

We're going to regret putting the rock destroying laser on there when the Martians misinterpret our intentions. Mark my words.

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Re: Mars is hard

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Kraken wrote:Curiosity is on its way! And now nothing much happens until August.
I didn't realize your business connection until now. Thanks for sponsoring a Mars mission! :mrgreen:

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Kraken »

Curiosity is precisely on course to miss Mars.

That's a GOOD thing. No, really.
PASADENA, Calif. - Excellent launch precision for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission has forestalled the need for an early trajectory correction maneuver, now not required for a month or more.

That first of six planned course adjustments during the 254-day journey from Earth to Mars had originally been scheduled for 15 days after the mission's Nov. 26 launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Now, the correction maneuver will not be performed until later in December or possibly January.

"This was among the most accurate interplanetary injections ever," said Louis D'Amario of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. He is the mission design and navigation manager for the Mars Science Laboratory.

Engineers deliberately planned the spacecraft's initial trajectory to miss Mars by about 35,000 miles (56,400 kilometers). This precaution protects Mars from Earth's microbes, because the Centaur upper stage of the launch vehicle, which is not thoroughly cleaned the way the spacecraft is, leaves Earth on the same trajectory as the spacecraft. The planned trajectory ensures that the Centaur will not hit Mars.
I did not know that.

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Re: Mars is hard

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"This was among the most accurate interplanetary injections ever," said Louis D'Amario of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
I love it when NASA talks dirty to me.

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Paingod »

I get that we don't want to accidentally find our own bacteria on Mars, but why are we so into sterilizing everything that touches down? Why not spread a little bacteria here and there? Mars might get a shot at a life cycle in a few million years if we seed it with microbes that can survive or even thrive there.
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Re: Mars is hard

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Paingod wrote:I get that we don't want to accidentally find our own bacteria on Mars, but why are we so into sterilizing everything that touches down? Why not spread a little bacteria here and there? Mars might get a shot at a life cycle in a few million years if we seed it with microbes that can survive or even thrive there.
because what if there is already some sort of life that we can not detect that then gets wiped out by our smallpox.....er microbes?
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Re: Mars is hard

Post by msduncan »

Remus West wrote:
Paingod wrote:I get that we don't want to accidentally find our own bacteria on Mars, but why are we so into sterilizing everything that touches down? Why not spread a little bacteria here and there? Mars might get a shot at a life cycle in a few million years if we seed it with microbes that can survive or even thrive there.
because what if there is already some sort of life that we can not detect that then gets wiped out by our smallpox.....er microbes?
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Re: Mars is hard

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Something as specific as Pox is unlikely to be a problem, such viruses are meant to infect earthborne species, and there wouldn't be anything to infect.

The bigger issue is not infectious bacteria, but rather bacteria in general landing on planet and taking over ecological niches in an already strained alien ecology, and thriving.

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Re: Mars is hard

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The point of Mars exploration is the search for life, so introducing earthly contaminants ruins the science. If we find an earthlike bacterium, we want to know for sure that it's a native Martian. The similarities and differences between terrestrial and Martian organisms would tell us a lot about the origin and evolution of life.

Once that question has been settled and we start to transition from exploration to colonization, the contamination aspect becomes less important. Humans living there would inevitably bring all kinds of microbes.

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Kraken »

Are we there yet?

Follow Curiosity's progress.

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Re: Mars is hard

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I'm just as interested in them being able to land an SUV sized rover via a glider platform by remote on Mars as by all the things they could discover with such an advanced and long term rover on Mars.

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Kraken »

I will be pretty damned impressed if they land successfully. So many steps where things can go wrong....

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Biyobi »

Kraken wrote:I will be pretty damned impressed if they land successfully. So many steps where things can go wrong....
These days, I'm pretty damn impressed when Russia can successfully launch something, let alone landing it.

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Re: Mars is hard

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I thought this was an interesting little detail -- the rover is carrying what must surely now be the most expensive penny ever.
The camera at the end of the robotic arm on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has its own calibration target, a smartphone-size plaque that looks like an eye chart supplemented with color chips and an attached penny.

...

Edgett bought the special penny that's aboard Curiosity with funds from his own pocket. It is a 1909 "VDB" cent, from the first year Lincoln pennies were minted, the centennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth, with the VDB initials of the coin's designer - Victor David Brenner -- on the reverse.

"The penny is on the MAHLI calibration target as a tip of the hat to geologists' informal practice of placing a coin or other object of known scale in their photographs.
Someday, decades or centuries from now, long after the rover has been sand-blasted and buried into oblivion, somebody exploring Mars is going to recover that penny. Imagine how much it will bring at auction.

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Isgrimnur »

Curiosity landing on target:
NASA's next Mars rover, the "Curiosity" Mars Science Laboratory, looks right on target for landing.

The MSL will arrive early on the morning of Aug. 6 on Mars, says NASA's Dave Lavery. "Everything looks healthy," Lavery says, aboard the spacecraft, launched last year.

Improvement in targeting of the rover's landing site may shave off as much as four months of surface driving time for the nuclear-powered rover once it lands, says Pete Theisinger of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

The mission, designed for one Martian year, will explore the mountain, Mount Sharp or "Aeolis Mons", at the center of Gale Crater on Mars, looking for evidence of past habitats suitable for microbial life on the Red Planet. The new, smaller landing site is only 4 miles wide by 12 miles across.

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by mori »

Kraken wrote:I thought this was an interesting little detail -- the rover is carrying what must surely now be the most expensive penny ever.
The camera at the end of the robotic arm on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has its own calibration target, a smartphone-size plaque that looks like an eye chart supplemented with color chips and an attached penny.

...

Edgett bought the special penny that's aboard Curiosity with funds from his own pocket. It is a 1909 "VDB" cent, from the first year Lincoln pennies were minted, the centennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth, with the VDB initials of the coin's designer - Victor David Brenner -- on the reverse.

"The penny is on the MAHLI calibration target as a tip of the hat to geologists' informal practice of placing a coin or other object of known scale in their photographs.
Someday, decades or centuries from now, long after the rover has been sand-blasted and buried into oblivion, somebody exploring Mars is going to recover that penny. Imagine how much it will bring at auction.
And there will be somebody on a show on The History Channel trying to pawn it and claiming mankind was exploring Mars in the early 20th century. :)

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Kraken »

T minus 15 days, and the spacecraft is in good health.

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Kraken »

T minus 11 days and 15 minutes.

I'm looking forward to this landing more than any since the Vikings.

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Stefan Stirzaker »

Looking forward to it too, going to nerd it up with my Dad and go out to Tidbinbilla Deep Space Tracking Station just outside Canberra, Australia. they're holding a landing get together there and apparently the signal will be coming firstly through them due to time of landing and orientation of earth etc etc. Should be fun :)

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Kurth »

Stefan Stirzaker wrote:Looking forward to it too, going to nerd it up with my Dad and go out to Tidbinbilla Deep Space Tracking Station just outside Canberra, Australia. they're holding a landing get together there and apparently the signal will be coming firstly through them due to time of landing and orientation of earth etc etc. Should be fun :)

That sounds awesome! We're taking my son to the Science Museum in Boston on 8/4 to see their planetarium show that is supposed to be a special feature on Mars and Curiosity. We couldn't be more excited about this landing. I remain pretty skeptical such a complex plan is going to work, but it would be outstanding if it does. Go NASA!
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