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Ironduke
03 Jan 04,, 21:31
NASA attempts a return to Mars tonight

Robot ship readies for six minutes 'from hell'

By Richard Stenger
CNN
Saturday, January 3, 2004 Posted: 4:21 PM EST (2121 GMT)

PASADENA, California (CNN) -- The countdown was on Saturday for the possible arrival on Mars of a new form of life from Earth -- one with chips and circuits slated to conduct unprecedented scientific and photographic surveys of the red planet.

Whether the NASA's solar-powered, six-wheeled craft survives the dangerous trip, or becomes scrap like many of its predecessors, will not be known until it sends a radio signal home -- and that could take hours or days.

It is scheduled to land Saturday night. If it succeeds, the new rover could be the first of several on Mars.

Despite the complexity of the landing, NASA scientists were upbeat and optimistic at a midafternoon press briefing.

They noted the probe has a 99 percent chance of landing within its optimal drop zone and that conditions on Mars look good for landing.

Mission Manager Mark Adler said the "spacecraft health is excellent."

There is a slight chance that the $400 million rover, named Spirit, could contact Earth minutes after it undertakes the most complicated part of its seven-month journey -- going from 12,000 mph through space to a complete rest on the surface.

"It's going to be high anxiety," said Ed Weiler, NASA associate administrator of space science. The six minutes during which the rover enters the atmosphere and lands will be "from hell," he said.

Four-story bounce
In that brief time, if all goes as planned, Spirit will endure 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures as it slams into the atmosphere, deploys parachutes and fires retro rockets to decelerate. Seconds before impact, it will inflate a protective cocoon of airbags.

A series of bounces and rolls could send the golf cart-sized robot more than a mile from its landing spot, according to mission control scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

"It will bounce about a four-story building [in] height, we believe, and roll somewhere between one and two kilometers," said Peter Theisinger, Mars exploration rover project manager at JPL.

"It sounds like a crazy way to land on Mars, but it's actually tried and tested," said Steven Squyres, a Cornell University geologist in charge of the scientific instruments on Spirit and its identical twin, Opportunity, which will complete the 3 million-mile trip to Mars in three weeks.

The airbag bounce method worked well with Pathfinder, NASA's last success on martian soil.

The 1997 mission included a lander, which beamed back thousands of images, and Sojourner, a toy-sized test rover that scurried around the rocks and boulders littering the landing site.

Stunning panoramas
The new 400-pound rovers like Spirit and Opportunity, packed with a slew of geology instruments and cameras, have much more mobility and capability than previous missions.

Each is built to explore nearly as much territory in one day as Sojourner covered in three months, about 100 yards.

Their eight cameras should provide stunning panoramas of the martian surface, with resolutions so sharp they retain crisp detail when blown up to the size of a movie screen, according to NASA. And their microscopes, spectrometers and drills could uncover history from long, long ago.

"It's a cold, dry miserable place today. But we have got these tantalizing clues that, in the past, it used to be warmer and wetter," said Squyres, who exudes a passion for planets like his one-time teacher at Cornell, the late astronomer Carl Sagan.

"You can think of these vehicles as being robot field geologists. A field geologist is like a detective at the scene of a crime. They go to a place where something happened long ago and they try to read the clues," he told CNN.

But this scene of the crime could easily include Spirit's corpse, NASA scientists acknowledge.

'Death planet'
Mars has proven a deadly place to visit. Two-thirds of the more than 30 spacecraft that have attempted to reach or orbit Mars have met with disaster, including two NASA attempts in 1999.

The most recent casualties include Japan's Nozomi, a satellite zapped by lethal solar radiation during its four-year odyssey to Mars. Mission engineers abandoned their attempts to steer the ailing craft as it neared the red planet last month.

Another possible victim is the Beagle 2, an ambitious life-searching lander from Britain, which has remained silent since its presumed touchdown December 25.

"A lot of people have had bad days on Mars," Weiler quipped last year. "They don't call it the death planet for nothing."

http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/space/01/03/mars.rovers/index.html

seekerof
04 Jan 04,, 17:50
Successful landing and Spirit is transmitting and NASA is recieving.....

"First Light, Hello Mars"
Link:
http://astrobio.net/news/article751.html


"NASA's Mars Rover Sends Its First Photos"
Link:
http://apnews.myway.com/article/20040104/D7VS31300.html


"Photos From Mars Show Rocky Landscape"
Link:
http://apnews.myway.com/article/20040104/D7VS40O80.html


:clap:



regards
seekerof

Trooth
24 Jan 04,, 19:05
Apaprently it now keeps re-booting itself.

Wasn't powered by Windows was it? :)

Leader
25 Jan 04,, 01:33
Originally posted by Trooth
Apaprently it now keeps re-booting itself.

Wasn't powered by Windows was it? :)

:roll How's the Euro one doing? Oh yeah...it disappeared.

Trooth
25 Jan 04,, 02:17
You remember one of the major symptoms of the msblast virus?

Mars has not been the luckiest of planets for any mission, US, European or Japanese.

Ironduke
25 Jan 04,, 07:28
Originally posted by Trooth
You remember one of the major symptoms of the msblast virus?

Mars has not been the luckiest of planets for any mission, US, European or Japanese.
Not only has Opportunity made a perfect landing on Mars, NASA has re-established contact with Spirit and has regained control of it.

http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/space/01/25/mars.rovers/index.html

Trooth
25 Jan 04,, 12:55
Must be XP then. Remote assistance to the rescue :)

Confed999
25 Jan 04,, 15:36
Originally posted by Ironman
Not only has Opportunity made a perfect landing on Mars, NASA has re-established contact with Spirit and has regained control of it.

Yay!!!! The Mars rover homepage is at http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/home/ . Heard that the Euro attempt, though it sadly lost it's lander, has confirmed the existance of water ice, and dry ice, on the southern pole of Mars. http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/space/01/23/mars.water.ice/index.html

Praxus
25 Jan 04,, 16:12
Maybe a few nuclear detonations could melt the CO2 and give it an atmosphere, then we could throw algea, and other autotrophic lifeforms on mars to create oxygen, then a little later we can bring animals and humans. We could have two planets!

ZFBoxcar
25 Jan 04,, 16:20
thats just so insane it might work...and hey, whats the worst that could happen? If it doesnt work were no worse off, and its not like we will have killed any life forms.

Praxus
25 Jan 04,, 16:32
I don't know how we could create an O3(ozone) layer though, and that's the only way we could protect ourselves from deadly radiation.

Trooth
25 Jan 04,, 17:36
We may have to live without one on Earth soon anyway. So whatever solution we come up with here would presumably work on Mars too.

ZFBoxcar
25 Jan 04,, 17:42
actually ive read that the ozone is healing because weve drastically reduced the amount of CFCs and other ozone destroying products.

Leader
26 Jan 04,, 00:36
Originally posted by Praxus
Maybe a few nuclear detonations could melt the CO2 and give it an atmosphere, then we could throw algea, and other autotrophic lifeforms on mars to create oxygen, then a little later we can bring animals and humans. We could have two planets!

I wouldn't count on it. The reason mars doesn't have an atmosphere is because it is not massive enough to hold it. Many of these SiFi scenarios and just physically impossible.

Trooth
26 Jan 04,, 01:02
I know i am being a pedant ehre. But Mars does have an atmosphere, albeit a very thin one. Unless you are a fan of CO2 .

http://www.solarviews.com/eng/mars.htm

But you make a valid point, some things can't be overcome due to the laws of physics.

Leader
26 Jan 04,, 01:13
Originally posted by Trooth
I know i am being a pedant ehre. But Mars does have an atmosphere, albeit a very thin one. Unless you are a fan of CO2 .

http://www.solarviews.com/eng/mars.htm

But you make a valid point, some things can't be overcome due to the laws of physics.

By atmosphere I'm referring to something resembling Earth's atmosphere. Of course Mars has some atmosphere, but what we would need to live there would be enough atmospheric pressure to keep the nitrogen is our blood dissolved. Mars isn't capable of holding enough atmospheric gas to keep that kind of pressure.

Praxus
26 Jan 04,, 01:33
It is possible to have a similar atmosphere on Mars as it is on Earth.

Mars has a gravitational pull of around 1/3rd that of Earth and a surface area of around 1/3rd that of Earth. That means that if you introduced the same ammount of atmosphere that there is on Earth, you would have the same pressure at "sea level" on Mars that you would have at sea level on Earth.

The distance from the surface to the end of the atmosphere would be 3 times that of Earth however.

The gas wouldn't just drift into outer space.

Leader
26 Jan 04,, 01:45
Originally posted by Praxus
It is possible to have a similar atmosphere on Mars as it is on Earth.

Mars has a gravitational pull of around 1/3rd that of Earth and a surface area of around 1/3rd that of Earth. That means that if you introduced the same ammount of atmosphere that there is on Earth, you would have the same pressure at "sea level" on Mars that you would have at sea level on Earth.

The distance from the surface to the end of the atmosphere would be 3 times that of Earth however.

The gas wouldn't just drift into outer space.

What bases do you have to believe that the gas will not drift off into outer space? Mars simply can not hold an atmosphere that would have to extend three times farther then earth's atmosphere.

Confed999
26 Jan 04,, 01:50
Mars could have a very similar atmosphere to Earth according to scientists. This site has a list of the terraforming methods being discussed: http://www.redcolony.com/methods/ . The rest of that site is quite good as well. ;)

Ironduke
26 Jan 04,, 01:58
Even if the atmospheric composition could be made to be exactly the same as that on Earth, it would be like breathing at 30,000 feet. Some kind of compressor would be needed.

Leader
26 Jan 04,, 02:02
Originally posted by Ironman
Even if the atmospheric composition could be made to be exactly the same as that on Earth, it would be like breathing at 30,000 feet. Some kind of compressor would be needed.

Good luck with that. That will take some significant technological advances.

Praxus
26 Jan 04,, 02:19
My far fetched idea...

I would deliver a nuclear weapon every 10 miles on the polar ice caps in the 100-200 kt range. Each warhead will have a parachute and it will release it when it slows to a speed where the warhead can survive. This would be several thousand nuclear weapons which would rapidly turn frozen CO2 and Ice into it's gascious form.

Confed999
26 Jan 04,, 02:44
Originally posted by Ironman
Even if the atmospheric composition could be made to be exactly the same as that on Earth, it would be like breathing at 30,000 feet. Some kind of compressor would be needed.
Nah, the atmosphere could be alot more vast than that. All one has to do is look to Venus or any of the gas giants, as well as many of the giant's moons, to see that atmospheres can be alot bigger than Earth's. I've never heard anyone question that the pressure on Mars could be made similar to Earth, except for a question about quantities of specific types of gasses. The reality of the whole thing is that if enough CO2 could be released increasing the pressure to the point that a habitat being holed wouldn't be catastophic, then all that is required for humans to breath would be CO2 filters and a compressor. We have both of those allready. Additional equipment may be required to extract/simulate the other gasses needed, nitrogen will be difficult.

Confed999
26 Jan 04,, 02:46
Originally posted by Praxus
I would deliver a nuclear weapon every 10 miles on the polar ice caps in the 100-200 kt range. Each warhead will have a parachute and it will release it when it slows to a speed where the warhead can survive.
Too much dust is counterproductive to the process.

Ironduke
26 Jan 04,, 03:28
Yeah, Mars is already quite dusty.... and the dust would block out the sunlight, perhaps for many years.

I don't think radiation would be a problem.... Mars is already quite "radiated" :)

Praxus
26 Jan 04,, 15:19
then all that is required for humans to breath would be CO2 filters and a compressor. We have both of those allready. Additional equipment may be required to extract/simulate the other gasses needed, nitrogen will be difficult.

Why now just through tons of algea on the planet? That way people could survive outside.

Confed999
27 Jan 04,, 23:31
Originally posted by Praxus
Why now just through tons of algea on the planet? That way people could survive outside.
That would be a major part of terraforming. For example, there are bacteria called methanogens that could survive Mars today, they create methane, an important greenhouse gas. The single celled organisms also have the big bonus of being easily engineered into something more useful, customizeable.

Praxus
27 Jan 04,, 23:47
You could geneticly engineer it to produce the gases that you want.

Confed999
28 Jan 04,, 00:09
Originally posted by Praxus
You could geneticly engineer it to produce the gases that you want.
And from the materials you have in surplus. It's been used here to create bacteria that attack nitrogen compounds, like explosives, for enviornmentaly sound methods of disposal. There's allways the chance of making something really nasty by accident and there are alot of people against "messing with nature", or it would be used more.

Confed999
17 Oct 04,, 15:17
Can you believe these little buggers are still kicking? Spirit has just passed the 3 times it's estimated lifetime mark, and it's still exploring. It's nice, that after so many failures, they have something work out better than was expected.
http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/home/