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Curiosity Mars Lander… she’s off… ETA August 2012: soft landing on Mars
Posted: 06 October 2011 08:02 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Although NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory will not leave Earth until late this year nor land on Mars until August 2012, anyone can watch those dramatic events now in a new animation of the mission.

The full, 11-minute animation, at http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/videogallery/index.html?media_id=97780842 , shows sequences such as the spacecraft separating from its launch vehicle near Earth and the mission’s rover, Curiosity, zapping rocks with a laser and examining samples of powdered rock on Mars.
A shorter, narrated version is also available, at http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/videogallery/index.html?media_id=97718982 .

Boy, that’ll be one knuckle-biter landing.

[ Edited: 27 November 2011 08:42 PM by citizenschallenge.pm ]
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Posted: 07 October 2011 04:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Cool, thanks for that CC. I’m surprised they didn’t go with the air-bag solution they’ve used before. It seemed pretty successful. This one depends on getting those four thrusters to work correctly. But I’m sure they know what they’re doing.

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Posted: 07 October 2011 06:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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dougsmith - 07 October 2011 04:21 AM

Cool, thanks for that CC. I’m surprised they didn’t go with the air-bag solution they’ve used before. It seemed pretty successful. This one depends on getting those four thrusters to work correctly. But I’m sure they know what they’re doing.

I’m surprised by that as well. While lower density means that wind is about 10 times less forceful on Mars (compared to Earth), a windy day could still damage that rover as it sets down.

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Posted: 07 October 2011 07:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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This is the massiest rover yet, thanks to its big science payload and its nuclear power source. 1,984 lbs versus the 1,450 lbs of each of the Viking landers, which didn’t use airbags either. The Spirit and Opportunity rovers did, but they were only 387 pounds each.

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Posted: 07 October 2011 08:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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josh_karpf - 07 October 2011 07:56 AM

This is the massiest rover yet, thanks to its big science payload and its nuclear power source. 1,984 lbs versus the 1,450 lbs of each of the Viking landers, which didn’t use airbags either. The Spirit and Opportunity rovers did, but they were only 387 pounds each.

OK, so airbags aren’t a good solution to a payload this heavy, then. Interesting.

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Posted: 07 October 2011 09:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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josh_karpf - 07 October 2011 07:56 AM

This is the massiest rover yet, thanks to its big science payload and its nuclear power source. 1,984 lbs versus the 1,450 lbs of each of the Viking landers, which didn’t use airbags either. The Spirit and Opportunity rovers did, but they were only 387 pounds each.

I just want it to be clear that when I said less dense wink , I was referring to the wind, not the rover.

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Posted: 07 October 2011 04:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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traveler - 07 October 2011 06:15 AM

I’m surprised by that as well. While lower density means that wind is about 10 times less forceful on Mars (compared to Earth), a windy day could still damage that rover as it sets down.

well that was a good show stopper.  grrr


but it occurred to me that it’s probably going into orbit first and
the entry sequence will be initiated at the Earth based flight controller’s all-clear.


. . . don’t know, but I figure those folks have considered such problems.


still gonna be heck of a knuckle biter  

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Posted: 09 October 2011 08:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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smile  Very nice.  I’ve seen the landing of the rover animation before.  I’m amazed at how many stages they used to launch and land it.

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Posted: 27 November 2011 08:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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We’re off

NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory lifted off from the launch pad at 10:02 a.m. EST today.
By Adam Mann Email Author ~ November 26, 2011 ~ 10:15 am
courtesy of Wired.com

msl_launched.jpg

The one-ton Mini Cooper-sized rover, which is the largest machine NASA can currently put down on the Martian surface, will now look forward to an eight-month cruise to the Red Planet, arriving in August 2012. The probe will survey the Martian landscape with HD cameras, search for signs of habitability and life past or present, and drill inside rocks to examine the planet’s composition.
After a shaky history on Earth, MSL will have to worry about one last event when it gets to Mars: its nail-biting landing procedure, the sky crane. . .

[ Edited: 27 November 2011 08:45 PM by citizenschallenge.pm ]
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Posted: 28 November 2011 04:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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dougsmith - 07 October 2011 04:21 AM

Cool, thanks for that CC. I’m surprised they didn’t go with the air-bag solution they’ve used before. It seemed pretty successful. This one depends on getting those four thrusters to work correctly. But I’m sure they know what they’re doing.

I’m no rocket scientist but not using air bags may be because of the payload which is huge in relation to previous Mars landings.
In any event. Lets hope for the best.

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Posted: 28 November 2011 04:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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deros - 28 November 2011 04:18 AM
dougsmith - 07 October 2011 04:21 AM

Cool, thanks for that CC. I’m surprised they didn’t go with the air-bag solution they’ve used before. It seemed pretty successful. This one depends on getting those four thrusters to work correctly. But I’m sure they know what they’re doing.

I’m no rocket scientist but not using air bags may be because of the payload which is huge in relation to previous Mars landings.
In any event. Lets hope for the best.


Right, that’s what Josh said, and subsequently I’ve seen it confirmed. Really looking forward to seeing the data from this mission!

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Posted: 28 November 2011 06:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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citizenschallenge.pm - 07 October 2011 04:05 PM
traveler - 07 October 2011 06:15 AM

I’m surprised by that as well. While lower density means that wind is about 10 times less forceful on Mars (compared to Earth), a windy day could still damage that rover as it sets down.

well that was a good show stopper.  grrr


but it occurred to me that it’s probably going into orbit first and
the entry sequence will be initiated at the Earth based flight controller’s all-clear.


. . . don’t know, but I figure those folks have considered such problems.


still gonna be heck of a knuckle biter  

I am not 100% certain but I’m pretty sure that curiosity will not be going into orbit prior to landing. No component of the craft remains in orbit so there is no need to establish orbit first. Going into orbit would require carrying a large engine and would consume a lot of fuel especially with a craft this large since the ship has to be slowed down from a speed that is far above orbital velocity to one that can achieve a stable orbit. Both of those things would add weight which would mean you need a larger rocket to launch the craft or you would have to launch a proportionately smaller probe.

If you’re goal is to land on the planet it makes much more sense to plunge straight down to the surface from interplanetary space and let the atmosphere slow the craft down like the Apollo crew capsules did when they returned from the moon. I’m pretty certain that’s what they will be doing here. The controllers of course have the entire cruise period from earth to check out the craft prior to the final landing sequence so going into orbit really wouldn’t make the whole process any safer and would just add complexity. What if the rocket used to put the craft in orbit doesn’t fire as has happened to some probes in the past ( like the recent Japanese Akatsuki probe to Venus).

In any event it will be an exciting thing to watch this unfold. If anyone can do it NASA can.  They have sent more successful probes to Mars then all other countries combined and remain the only nation to land a probe on Mars and have it function for more than a minute or two. They have now landed 6 there successfully.

Addendum: I just checked the mission profile. It will definitely not be going into orbit

[ Edited: 28 November 2011 06:57 AM by macgyver ]
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Posted: 28 November 2011 02:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Curiosity is nuclear, it will contaminate Mars with nuclear fuel.  Since Odyssey and Spirit are still working, why not solar power?  NASA seems to be more concerned about biological contamination than isotope.

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Posted: 28 November 2011 03:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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jump_in_the_pit - 28 November 2011 02:52 PM

Curiosity is nuclear, it will contaminate Mars with nuclear fuel.  Since Odyssey and Spirit are still working, why not solar power?  NASA seems to be more concerned about biological contamination than isotope.

It would only cause contamination of the planet if it were to crash or explode. The nuclear material in its power cells does not require a cooling system and is not therefor subject to the risk of meltdown like the nuclear reactors you are familiar with.

They cant use solar power because curiosity has a suite of instruments like no other craft that has been landed on Mars before. It requires far more power. If they were to try to power it with solar panels they would have to be so big as to make the craft even heavier than it already is and it would have been too ungainly to maneuver around the surface. Furthermore, using solar power has not been without its problems even on the smaller rovers.

The solar panels have become covered with dust at times making them less productive. The rovers also have to be parked on a southern tilt during the martian winter to maximize sunlight on the panels just to generate enough electricity to keep basic systems going while they remain in hibernation. Its all they can do just to stay alive and not freeze to death during this period because of the low power levels. That means that during a significant portion of the martian year no science gets done. Given the expense and efforts that go into these missions its a terrible waste to leave the craft idle for months on end. For all missions beyond Mars and for large long term missions on the surface of Mars nuclear power is really the only practical choice.

The risk to Mars is extremely low. In fact NASA had to take into account the possibility that curiosity might never get out of orbit and crash back to earth so they have gone to great lengths to make sure that there would be very little risk of contamination even under such circumstances where it did crash. Given the size of mars and the small size of this reactor i dont think we need to be overly concerned about contaminating the planet.

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Posted: 28 November 2011 04:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Not sure how you contaminate a lifeless planet, so long as the lander is sterile.

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Posted: 28 November 2011 04:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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dougsmith - 28 November 2011 04:00 PM

Not sure how you contaminate a lifeless planet, so long as the lander is sterile.

Our definition of life is very limited. There is a very small chance that there is some sort of life on Mars that we are contaminating (irradiating). It’s a risk NASA believes is acceptable.

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