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Mars rover landing..... going from airbags to lots more technology ????

Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
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  39

Going from something arguably complicated, but has worked twice so far ....





to .... WTF???





Talk about an increase in complexity. I guess we will know if it works in a few days.

Henry

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fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
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  12

I believe the new rover is too big for airbags. The two currently on mars were both about the size of a breadbox. This new one is about the size of a VW Beetle. And yes, this looks like the most insane rube-goldberg designed landing mechanism possible.

The really scary thing is that the landing process is 7 minutes long, but it takes the signal 14 minutes to get to Earth. So by the time we see the thing start it's descent, it'll already be safely on the ground - or crashed - for 7 minutes.


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Bert Bates
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    5
both approaches seem "not simple" but it's undeniably cool

From the comfort of my armchair:

I wondered about using the upper atmosphere to do a bit of braking, perhaps an orbit or two before descending. The whole 8-gazillion degrees centigrade thing seems scary...

And then at the end, how about a compromise from the 1st generation? How about some air-bags? After all, they're already depending on proper vertical alignment...

anyway, thanks so much for finding those two videos

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Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
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  65

I guess it cements my standing as a geek that I find this all much more interesting than the Olympics.


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Saurabh Pillai
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Joined: Sep 12, 2008
Posts: 498
All of this stuff sounds so much mystic,adventurous and crazy. I really wish to go to any planet other than earth. In fact I would feel happy if I can go to Moon even. I wish this type of journeys becomes bit more economical ;-)
Pat Farrell
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Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4637
    
    5

Saurabh Pillai wrote: I wish this type of journeys becomes bit more economical ;-)


So you want it to only cost tens of billions of US dollars instead of hundreds of billions?
Bert Bates
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Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
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    5
If you think about the expense of computers 50 years ago... perhaps space flight will someday have it's equivalent of Moore's Law.
Joe Ess
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Joined: Oct 29, 2001
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    6

Bert Bates wrote:
And then at the end, how about a compromise from the 1st generation? How about some air-bags? After all, they're already depending on proper vertical alignment...


This first generation?


NASA went to air bags because they were cheap (anybody remember "Faster Better Cheaper"), but as Fred mentions, they will not work for larger payloads.
I'm with Bear, this is way more exciting than the Olympics!


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fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
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  12

Saurabh Pillai wrote:I really wish to go to any planet other than earth.

I believe we currently have the technology to get you there.
Bringing you BACK is another question, as is keeping you alive while there for an extended period of time.
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
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    5

Big writeup in Scientific American of a relatively inexpensive way to get men to mars. Starts with abandoning NASA's reliance on huge rockets. Rather uses unmanned launches to haul fuel up to a cluster in low earth orbit. Then launch an unmanned ship/capsule to rendevous with the fuel. Finally send up men. Orders of magnitude less expense and far less danger to the crew.
Henry Wong
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Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18120
    
  39


Lots more stuff about curiosity at JPLs website....

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/

Henry
Mike Simmons
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Joined: Mar 05, 2008
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    9
w00t!!!
Greg Charles
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 01, 2001
Posts: 2771
    
  10

Holy s---! They pulled it off! After watching that video I didn't think they had a chance. As an engineer, I'm in complete awe. I may even have shed a few tears when that first image came across.
Mike Simmons
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Joined: Mar 05, 2008
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    9
Well, I was hoping to see some tripods this time. But other than that, awesome!
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18120
    
  39


I also thought about watching it live -- but considering the odds, and wanting sleep....

Henry
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal

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  65

I cheered myself and actual tears came to my eyes, when everyone at JPL started cheering. Great job, JPL!
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal

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  65



Jesper de Jong
Java Cowboy
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Joined: Aug 16, 2005
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  10

It worked!!!

Slowly we're getting more images, such as this one from Curiosity on the parachute, taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (amazing that it's possible to take a picture like this!).

This is also very interesting: a picture of the heat shield falling away and a video of the descent, taken from one of the cameras on Curiosity that's pointing downwards. You see the heat shield falling and the surface getting closer.


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Bert Bates
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Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
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    5
As a bit of background, I find it challenging to cut a 2x4 to the correct length...

Given that, I find this type of achievement to be indistinguishable from magic. I swear I heard one of the folks at mission control say that they had misjudged the elevation of the landing site... BY 5 METERS!!! what?

How again do they make these calculations? Basically telescopes and clocks? Did I miss something?
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18120
    
  39


Cool. It looks like someone recorded the whole event, and not just the highlights....

http://www.youtube.com/user/jmwirthlinsigns/videos?view=0

Henry
Martin Vajsar
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Joined: Aug 22, 2010
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  47

Bert Bates wrote:How again do they make these calculations? Basically telescopes and clocks? Did I miss something?

I think the elevation maps of other planets are obtained using radars. The Martian maps are quite detailed already (see Google Mars ), and I'm pretty sure they examined possible landing spots very carefully.
Jesper de Jong
Java Cowboy
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  10

Bert Bates wrote:How again do they make these calculations? Basically telescopes and clocks? Did I miss something?

I guess the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and its HiRISE camera are used for this. That's also what they used to photograph all the parts - rover, sky crane, heat shield and parachute on the surface. I've read somewhere that later, MRO will pass over those things in a better orbit so that it can take a photo with a resolution of 30 cm (1 foot) per pixel of the rover and other parts sitting on the surface.
Martin Vajsar
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 22, 2010
Posts: 3438
    
  47

Jesper de Jong wrote:
Bert Bates wrote:How again do they make these calculations? Basically telescopes and clocks? Did I miss something?

I guess the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and its HiRISE camera are used for this.

Bert was talking about elevation. I digged into it a bit and it looks like the elevation map was created using the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter.

I'm not sure it would be possible to measure elevation using HiRISE, even though it can take stereoscopis pictures (cool! I didn't know that), which are very useful to map the possible landing spots in detail.
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18120
    
  39

I really liked the quote that came with the new pictures from NASA....


"You would really be forgiven for thinking that NASA was trying to pull a fast one on you and we actually put a rover out in the Mojave Desert and took a picture."
- John Grotzinger, Curiosity chief scientist



Nothing better than directly giving fodder to the conspiracy theorists...

Henry
chris webster
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  11

Martin Vajsar wrote:Bert was talking about elevation. I digged into it a bit and it looks like the elevation map was created using the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter.

I'm not sure it would be possible to measure elevation using HiRISE, even though it can take stereoscopis pictures (cool! I didn't know that), which are very useful to map the possible landing spots in detail.

You can use imagery to work out elevation to some extent - looking at shadows and the angle of sunlight etc - but it's difficult, error-prone and depends on the terrain etc. It's much easier to work with elevation data from radar or laser instruments which give you a complete set of direct measurements with a known resolution, instead of a partial set of indirect derived measurements. You can download the data and play with it yourself - http://www.mars.asu.edu/data/ - using a suitable GIS tool like gvSIG or QGIS if you're a real spatial geek (I did this for a college project in GIS).


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Frank Silbermann
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Joined: Jun 06, 2002
Posts: 1379
I asked a NASA engineer whether orchestrating the landing was difficult.
He said, "It wasn't that difficult; it was only rocket-science. It wasn't like we were trying to talk to girls, or anything like that."
Akhilesh Trivedi
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Joined: Jun 22, 2005
Posts: 1511
Somebody please tell NASA, its me in the pictures not the Aliens.


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