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#22895 - 08/04/12 11:33 AM Seven Minutes of Terror
alternaut Offline

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Registered: 08/04/09
Around 1:31AM Eastern Time on Monday August 6 the Mars Science Laboratory named Curiosity is slated to land on Mars. Due to the radio lag between Mars and Earth, the first news of the landing will arrive here 14 minutes later. No news then is bad news, possibly signifying the difference between gold medal or smoking crater.

Find an animation of the landing sequence HERE, and an explanation of the various challenges it entails HERE. The Atlantic InFocus blog published a series of images of Curiosity and its launch HERE, nicely complementing the NASA animations. PBS' NewsHour had this background story yesterday and will monitor the landing online, as will NASA.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed: go Curiosity! laugh

PS, the freeware Mars 'Sunclock' app Mars24 may provide a helpful overview of things.
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#22896 - 08/04/12 02:25 PM Re: Seven Minutes of Terror [Re: alternaut]
ryck Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Good stuff. Thanks.
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#22909 - 08/05/12 09:40 AM Re: Seven Minutes of Terror [Re: alternaut]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
The local museum of science and industry is hosting a party tonight to celebrate the landing (or, if something goes wrong, mourn the loss) of the Curiosity rover. I plan to attend, in the company of a lovely young lady with a postgraduate degree in evolutionary biology who I quite fancy.
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#22910 - 08/05/12 10:11 AM Re: Seven Minutes of Terror [Re: tacit]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
The combination of the scenario and your lady-friend's degree brought Frederick Pohl's Man Plus to mind.

I didn't think much of the book and don't remember a whole lot of it, but its central character was being re-engineered from a mere man into a "Martian" able to live self-sufficiently on Mars's surface.

I found it really amusing when it was mentioned that the scientists hoped he would breed true.
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#22917 - 08/06/12 06:39 AM Re: Seven Minutes of Terror [Re: alternaut]
ryck Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: alternaut
I'm keeping my fingers crossed: go Curiosity! laugh

The crossed fingers were not in vain.

Congratulations, U.S.A. Well done!
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#22918 - 08/06/12 07:44 AM Re: Seven Minutes of Terror [Re: ryck]
alternaut Offline

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Registered: 08/04/09
Indeed! Right on schedule Curiosity landed safely at its target location on Mars. cool Data is streaming in. tongue
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#22919 - 08/06/12 09:06 AM Re: Seven Minutes of Terror [Re: alternaut]
alternaut Offline

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Registered: 08/04/09
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter managed to capture an image of Curiosity's parachute descent stage. cool
The other two Mars orbiters, NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey and ESA's Mars Express are also involved in monitoring Curiosity, and have relayed signals received during its landing stage. laugh
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#22924 - 08/06/12 11:04 AM Re: Seven Minutes of Terror [Re: artie505]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
Originally Posted By: artie505
The combination of the scenario and your lady-friend's degree brought Frederick Pohl's Man Plus to mind.

I didn't think much of the book and don't remember a whole lot of it, but its central character was being re-engineered from a mere man into a "Martian" able to live self-sufficiently on Mars's surface.


That would be a nontrivial feat of bioengineering. Figuring out how to deal with the radiation alone would be a bit of a pickle.

So while we were at the event last night, when JPL announced they had confirmation the lander was on the ground safely and images were coming in, I turned to my girlfriend and said "Is this what people feel when their sports team does something like win the Superbowl or something?"
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#22928 - 08/06/12 01:25 PM Re: Seven Minutes of Terror [Re: tacit]
ryck Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: tacit
"Is this what people feel when their sports team does something like win the Superbowl or something?"

I imagine it is, which means the U.S. has had a pretty good two weeks - what with NASA up there on Mars and Michael Phelps down here in England.
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#22942 - 08/07/12 08:55 AM Re: Seven Minutes of Terror [Re: ryck]
alternaut Offline

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Registered: 08/04/09
As expected, NASA posted more videos about Curiosity's landing, some of which I list below:

- Descent
- Great Convergence of Spacecraft around Mars
- Curiosity Has Landed

The Atlantic published the following images from the landing (make sure to check the 1280p version):
- Curiosity Lands on Mars

Btw, what's up (or down) with singling out Phelps, other than that he is a great swimmer? I recall there being a few other (medaling) athletes as well... smirk
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#22943 - 08/07/12 09:29 AM Re: Seven Minutes of Terror [Re: alternaut]
ryck Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: alternaut
Btw, what's up (or down) with singling out Phelps, other than that he is a great swimmer? I recall there being a few other (medaling) athletes as well... smirk

Yes...there are medaling athletes in all countries that are competing and they are all worthy of praise. However, Phelps has accomplished what no Olympian in history has achieved and his medaling record is not likely to be broken any time soon.


Edited by ryck (08/07/12 09:35 AM)
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#22945 - 08/07/12 10:45 AM Re: Seven Minutes of Terror [Re: ryck]
alternaut Offline

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Registered: 08/04/09
True, but check out how Craig Virgin put that in perspective...
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#22949 - 08/07/12 12:51 PM Re: Seven Minutes of Terror [Re: alternaut]
Virtual1 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
Only thing that's sad is they aren't expecting more than a couple years out of it. It runs on a RAT instead of solar, for increased power availability and work through the winter, but has a limited fuel supply.

I know the two previous twins far surpassed their expected lifespan, but this time there is a serious, non-negotiable, inescapable hard limit on fuel.

I wish they'd have planted some solar panels on it so it could at least serve as a stationary science platform later in its life. Even if only to periodically upload new pictures of its surroundings so we could better observe the weather and changes in season. Or detect other things like changes in magnetosphere, cosmic ray exposure, or any of a number of other slow subtle changes that may interest them. Imagine how intriguing it would be 20 years from now to still have something of ours "alive" on mars? (though who knows, opportunity may yet make it that long)
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#22951 - 08/07/12 12:59 PM Re: Seven Minutes of Terror [Re: Virtual1]
joemikeb Online
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Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
The explanation I read for NOT using solar panels is the Martian dust which quickly coats solar panels reducing their effectiveness and severely limiting their useful lifespan. Some of the engineers on the project have said two years is the expected minimum life of the batteries, but then talk about possible five or more years.
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#22952 - 08/07/12 01:22 PM Re: Seven Minutes of Terror [Re: alternaut]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
A coupl'a days ago I ran across an article that Virgin's comments echoed. (Sorry...no idea where I found it.)

The article's author opined that Carl Lewis's achievements made him comparable, if not superior, to Phelps as an Olympian.
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#22953 - 08/07/12 02:11 PM Re: Seven Minutes of Terror [Re: Virtual1]
alternaut Offline

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Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: Virtual1
Only thing that's sad is they aren't expecting more than a couple years out of it. ... I know the two previous twins far surpassed their expected lifespan, but this time there is a serious, non-negotiable, inescapable hard limit on fuel.

Not to worry too much about Curiosity's power plant longevity. The "minimally one year" qualification quoted is exactly that, a minimum. Despite different specs, this parallels similar quotes for the previous rovers, who far outlasted that minimum. The manufacturer of Curiosity's power plant states that it 'can produce 125 watts of electrical power from 2000 watts of thermal power for up to 14 years'. Obviously, the critical variable will be load/power consumption, but the expectation appears to be that those 125W will be available for at least 1-2 years, after which the number will drop to 85-90% of max, which can be sustained for several more years. And let's not forget that this will power about an order of magnitude more stuff (read: data acquisition) than the previous rovers.

In addition to the actual power plant, the longevity of the power supply also depends on the batteries. These too have been (nonexhaustively) tested for at least 2 years. Finally, Curiosity's active life span depends on an array of power using equipment ranging from the 6 wheel motors to an Airport Extreme, none of which will last forever. We'll see, but I think it's likely that Curiosity will give us quite literally a great run for our money.

laugh
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#22955 - 08/07/12 04:07 PM Re: Seven Minutes of Terror [Re: alternaut]
ryck Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: alternaut
True, but check out how Craig Virgin put that in perspective...

Perspective? I don't think so. If the fact that he's a swimmer and in a lot of events is all it takes to garner that many medals...then why aren't more swimmers doing it? And....bottom line....for every single one of those medals, he still had to beat the best in the world.


Edited by ryck (08/07/12 04:09 PM)
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#22958 - 08/07/12 04:39 PM Re: Seven Minutes of Terror [Re: ryck]
alternaut Offline

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Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: ryck
Perspective? I don't think so.

It may not be all that clear that the interview I linked to started with a frequently heard claim that Phelps is the greatest Olympian ever, essentially because of his medal tally. While acknowledging that incredible achievement Virgin made several points in addition to the one you mention, and diplomatically concluded by saying that he considered Phelps the greatest swimmer.
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#22959 - 08/07/12 04:51 PM Re: Seven Minutes of Terror [Re: alternaut]
ryck Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
However it gets sliced, I still think...

Originally Posted By: ryck
....the U.S. has had a pretty good two weeks - what with NASA up there on Mars and Michael Phelps down here in England.


Edited by ryck (08/07/12 04:51 PM)
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#22960 - 08/07/12 04:57 PM Re: Seven Minutes of Terror [Re: ryck]
alternaut Offline

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Registered: 08/04/09
Agreed! laugh
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#23013 - 08/10/12 12:04 PM Re: Seven Minutes of Terror [Re: joemikeb]
Virtual1 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
Originally Posted By: joemikeb
The explanation I read for NOT using solar panels is the Martian dust which quickly coats solar panels reducing their effectiveness and severely limiting their useful lifespan. Some of the engineers on the project have said two years is the expected minimum life of the batteries, but then talk about possible five or more years.


But did you notice, this new rover comes with dust removers. (presumably for the camera lenses) I bet they really wish they;d have sent spirit/opportunity with some windshield wipers for their panels huh?
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#23014 - 08/10/12 12:07 PM Re: Seven Minutes of Terror [Re: ryck]
Virtual1 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
Originally Posted By: ryck
Perspective? I don't think so. If the fact that he's a swimmer and in a lot of events is all it takes to garner that many medals...then why aren't more swimmers doing it? And....bottom line....for every single one of those medals, he still had to beat the best in the world.

But that means training for and competing in that many events. Read up on the "daily life of phelps". Makes me want to hurl then pass out just reading what all he does all day, every day.

"dedication" and "obsession" just barely scratch the surface for that guy.
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