ot... Mars Phoenix Lander

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The Mars Phoenix Lander will...

Land and kick ass
9
25%
Crash and burn
1
3%
Have a rough landing with only partial systems intact
1
3%
Ummm, whatever
2
6%
Jessica Biel has a nice ass
23
64%
 
Total votes: 36

knotkranky
Posts: 4336
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Location: la

ot... Mars Phoenix Lander

Post by knotkranky » Sat May 24, 2008 1:26 am

Sunday night U.S. time will be the big moment. Talk about nail biting production. I love this stuff. The ultimate in tech.


NASA preps for '7 minutes of terror' on Mars

* Story Highlights
* Mars Phoenix Lander team will be biting their nails Sunday during the landing
* It will take just 7 minutes to enter atmosphere, slam on brakes and touch down
* If the landing is successful, the researchers will quickly begin science operations
* Whether Phoenix will find evidence of life on Mars is impossible to predict

By Kate Tobin
Senior Producer, CNN Science & Technology

(CNN) -- In the wake of the wildly successful Spirit and Opportunity rover missions, you would think NASA would approach the landing of the next Martian probe with high confidence.

But the truth is sometimes not what you would think.

"I do not feel confident. But in my heart I'm an optimist, and I think this is going to be a very successful mission," said principal investigator Peter Smith, an optical scientist with the University of Arizona. "The thrill of victory is so much more exciting than the agony of defeat."

Indeed, the truth is that the planetary scientists and engineers who make up the Mars Phoenix Lander team will be biting their nails Sunday evening as they cluster around computer monitors in mission control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

That's when their spacecraft, which launched to Mars in August, will finally arrive on the Red Planet.

Everyone on the team is primed and ready to get down to business, putting the suite of scientific instruments aboard Phoenix to work analyzing the soils and permafrost of Mars' arctic tundra for signatures of life, either past or present. iReport.com: Send your photos, video of space

But first, they have to get the lander on the ground, and that's where the worry comes in. In fact, they have a name for it in the Mars exploration community: "seven minutes of terror."

Seven minutes is all it takes for a spacecraft travelling neary 13,000 miles per hour to hit the Martian atmosphere, slam on the brakes and reach the ground.

During that time, onboard computers will be working at a manic pace as the spacecraft deploys its parachute, jettisons its heat shield, extends its three legs, releases the parachute and finally fires its thrusters to bring it down for a soft landing. Hopefully.

"Everything has to go right," NASA Associate Administrator Ed Weiler said. "You can't afford any failures."

It's risky business. Historically, 55 percent of Mars missions have ended in failure. And tensions will be particularly high with the Phoenix spacecraft. Learn about NASA's past missions to mars »

From an overall design standpoint, it is twin to the Mars Polar Lander spacecraft and was supposed to travel to Mars in 2001 as the Mars Surveyor spacecraft. They were part of the "better, faster, cheaper" program, formulated by then-NASA Administrator Dan Goldin to beef up planetary exploration on a lean budget.

But disaster struck.

Mars Polar Lander malfunctioned during its entry and descent into Mars' atmosphere in 1999 and crashed. Technical investigations concluded that as many as a dozen design flaws or malfunctions doomed the spacecraft.

The failure of that mission, as well as another spacecraft called the Mars Climate Orbiter the same year, led to some soul searching at NASA. The agency put future missions on hold to rethink the "better, faster, cheaper" approach. And Mars Surveyor went to the warehouse.

"The trouble is somebody forgot the 'better' part," Weiler said. "By pushing the 'faster' and 'cheaper' part so hard, engineers were forced to make decisions that weren't necessarily the best and right decisions. And that led to both the failures of the Mars Climate Orbiter and ultimately the Mars Polar Lander and eventually the entire Mars program."

But all was not lost. In 2003, Peter Smith proposed a plan to re-engineer that mothballed spacecraft and fly it on a mission to look for signatures of life in the ice and dirt of Mars far North. Mars Phoenix rose from the ashes of Surveyor.

Engineers set to work, testing and re-testing the onboard system to ferret out and fix all the flaws they could find. But even the lead engineer admits that he worries they might have missed something.

"We always have to be scared to death," project manager Barry Goldstein said. "The minute we lose fear is the minute that we stop looking for the next problem."

Another aspect of the Phoenix landing that has the team worried is the landing system itself. NASA has not successfully landed a probe on Mars using landing legs and stabilizing thrusters since the Viking missions in the late 1970's.

The other three successful Mars landings -- Pathfinder in 1997 and the Spirit and Opportunity rovers in 2004 -- used massive airbags that inflated around the landing craft just before landing to cushion the impact.

"I love airbags," Weiler said. "We got three success stories with airbags, but you don't invent science by continuing to do what you know how to do."

Engineers did not use airbags on Phoenix because the lander is simply too big and heavy for them to work properly. And NASA will have to figure out how to land reliably with thrusters and landing legs in order to fly even larger spacecraft in the future.

"We landed on Mars with rockets and legs twice with Viking. It's not impossible by definition; we have proof of it," Weiler said. "Humans will have to land on landing legs. Eventually, we want to send humans there, obviously."

Assuming the landing is successful, the researchers will quickly begin science operations.

The Phoenix landing site is targeted for the far Northern plains of the Mars, near the northern polar ice cap. Data from the Mars Odyssey spacecraft indicate large quantities of ice in the area, probably in the form of permafrost, either on the surface or just barely underground.

Phoenix is equipped with a robotic arm that can dig down and scoop up some of that ice and dirt, to look for organic chemical evidence that life once existed there, or even still exists now.

"We are not going to be able to answer the final question of 'is there life on Mars?' " Smith said. "We will take the next important step. We'll find out if there's organic material associated with this ice in the polar regions. Ice is a preserver, and if there ever were organics on Mars and they got into that ice, they will still be there today."

Indeed, "follow the water" has become the unifying theme of NASA's Mars exploration strategy.

In 2004, the rover Opportunity found evidence that a salty sea once lapped the shores of an area near Mars' equator called Meridiani Planum. Astrobiologists, scientists who study life on other planets, generally agree that wet places are the best places to look for life.

"There is no life on Earth where there isn't water," Weiler said. "However, where there's water, you find life, especially if you have organics, organic material and energy."

Whether Phoenix will find smoking gun evidence of life on Mars is impossible to predict. But Peter Smith thinks success is within reach.

"Well, my gut tells me that life is common in the universe and probably somewhere on Mars, there is organic material and perhaps even living material.

"Whether it's in the northern plains, I have no idea. But the universe is an immense place. In our Milky Way, we find hundreds of planets, and those are just in the nearby stars. So there must be huge astronomical numbers of planets in the universe."

Are we really alone?

"I suspect not," Smith said.

Image

Image

beats me
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Post by beats me » Sat May 24, 2008 2:21 am

I've been waiting for a topic like this for awhile, seriously.

Although not the point of this topic, I often wonder exactly what we are getting out of space exploration for all the money we are throwing at it. I mean really. Scientists are up there doing stuff, but what? What have we gained to date by launching people into space at such a huge cost? Or landing unmanned crafts to sift through dirt?

The international space program has done more brainwashing than even Apple.

I'm both being sarcastic and dead serious with these questions. What are the people in space doing other than giving satellites their 30,000,000 mile maintenance?

knotkranky
Posts: 4336
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2006 7:08 pm
Location: la

Post by knotkranky » Sat May 24, 2008 3:27 am

beats me wrote:I've been waiting for a topic like this for awhile, seriously.

Although not the point of this topic, I often wonder exactly what we are getting out of space exploration for all the money we are throwing at it. I mean really. Scientists are up there doing stuff, but what? What have we gained to date by launching people into space at such a huge cost? Or landing unmanned crafts to sift through dirt?

The international space program has done more brainwashing than even Apple.

I'm both being sarcastic and dead serious with these questions. What are the people in space doing other than giving satellites their 30,000,000 mile maintenance?

I'm all for space exploration. I love it. You go to explore and that's a good thing, but ya can't send humans, that's fucking stupid. Robots are better than humans for gathering shit. If ya send a human he's still gotta set up all the gear a robot would and the whole project will go to sustaining a few humans, a waste, so..... Anyway, ya gotta go. Explorers have to explore and there are things to discover and you don't know what that is until you get there. It's kinda built-in to the word "discovery"

I'll be watching sunday night and glued to the tv. I really hope it goes well. Few landers make it.

beats me
Posts: 23319
Joined: Fri Mar 30, 2007 6:39 pm

Post by beats me » Sat May 24, 2008 3:46 am

Yeah I know this stuff is exciting for some people and that's cool by me, but I think it's a waste of a huge amount of money to just bring back a dirt clod or see new universes and planets out there when we can't even get to the ones that we've known about for centuries.

I'm just more curious about what these scientists are doing out there with their battery of tests that nobody seems to ever have results on or why we even bother doing them. It reminds me of the scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indi is asking where they put the ark.

"what are they doing up in space?"

"big things"

"yeah, but what?"

"big......things"

adventurepants_
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Post by adventurepants_ » Sat May 24, 2008 3:49 am

http://www.buzzle.com/editorials/2-6-2003-35009.asp
Meteorology
Weather forecasting was once little more accurate than folklore. Now satellites can monitor drought in Africa, floods in the Bay of Bengal and hurricanes across the Caribbean, saving hundreds of thousands of lives.

Navigation
Lone yachtsmen and jumbo jets now make pinpoint landfalls, and polar explorers with mobile phones can guide rescue craft to the precise ice floe, thanks to global positioning satellites.

Fuel cells
Invented by a Victorian barrister, the Grove fuel cell was ignored until the Apollo programme. Now German cars and Chicago buses are testing the ultimate green fuel - hydrogen, with water as the exhaust.

The environment
Space platforms monitor pollution, measure forest destruction, survey agriculture, identify mineral deposits, spot buried archaeological structures and even uncover agricultural fraud.

Medical health
Spacesuit studies have led to a panoply of health monitors, warning systems, respirators, remote microphones and other miniaturised medical technology.

Robotics
Space engineers have to think small - and flexible. This has inspired a new generation of tiny sensors, monitors and automaton explorers heading for distant planets.

Materials
Apologists always mention non-stick frying pans. But the most dramatic could be aerogel: featherlight but supporting 4,000 times its own weight. Nasa christened it "frozen smoke".

Laptops
Space missions needed onboard computers. But they had to be small. So space research drove the industry to pack ever more power into ever ever smaller hardware.

Weapons
Wernher von Braun's V2 rocket was the first thing to reach the edge of space. It changed warfare just as dramatically as it changed the peace.


i wish they would start manned exploration again. its cool, its in space, and its hugely less expensive than pointless wars, and everyone seems to have enough money for that.

its also less risky. why is somehow considered too dangerous to send people off to mars, when thousands are put in harms way every minute in war zones?

Machinesworking
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Post by Machinesworking » Sat May 24, 2008 3:58 am

adventurepants_ wrote: i wish they would start manned exploration again. its cool, its in space, and its hugely less expensive than pointless wars, and everyone seems to have enough money for that.

its also less risky. why is somehow considered too dangerous to send people off to mars, when thousands are put in harms way every minute in war zones?
BIG +1 on this!
Besides, by first major disapointment in life was learning that faster than light drives wouldn't be invented by the time I was old enough to be a pilot. :lol:

Corn Swabler
Posts: 142
Joined: Thu Nov 08, 2007 9:24 pm

Post by Corn Swabler » Sat May 24, 2008 4:08 am

Put me out there above the carribbean side with a rodket that can tanke my to the solar zoo. It's wheeere I'm goonna go. FLy so far away to discover the thing man has not discovered. Where is the future? Is it here in Earth kkis it somewheere else, wh y not out in SAPECl. spadell OUTerSapaccde How fast is my roikkit movningQQ! Is it moving fast through the streets of New Yourk City. The spiralsQQQ!! Down the dreain they go... Willl it hold, will iti hild. HOOLD. Hllo CAT. come to ghdhdghthe fromt.'
FRoNT. Then shoot it out to outerspacel wathc the explosiiosns, bu tthe lightw as so bgright, everyobdy wea s ready for everyhitnng.

forge
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Post by forge » Sat May 24, 2008 9:38 am

THe fact that GWB announced they are going to mars suggests to me they are looking for resources of some kind

I remember reading something once about space being fair game as there are not yet any laws governing ownership and there are apparently some useful minerals floating about in asteroids etc

knotkranky
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Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2006 7:08 pm
Location: la

Post by knotkranky » Sat May 24, 2008 2:43 pm

beats me wrote:Yeah I know this stuff is exciting for some people and that's cool by me, but I think it's a waste of a huge amount of money to just bring back a dirt clod or see new universes and planets out there when we can't even get to the ones that we've known about for centuries.

I'm just more curious about what these scientists are doing out there with their battery of tests that nobody seems to ever have results on or why we even bother doing them. It reminds me of the scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indi is asking where they put the ark.

"what are they doing up in space?"

"big things"

"yeah, but what?"

"big......things"

Well, yer not just bringing back dirt, you don't know what's in the dirt and the info will shed more light on the origins of our own planet and or adding to the Mars database. It's not that much money really. A month in iraq maybe? Columbus and the Vikings didn't know what they were discovering, they just hope they would. Its all you get.

What the scientist are doing is gathering tiny facts that collectively will shed important light on something important that will advance our knowledge. Check out the James Burke series "Connections" for a cool look on how that benefits.

@ Mr. Pants, To send dudes to mars and beyond is really impractical but I share wanting to with you. It just can't be done in a way that's valuable. Going to mars maned is basically a suicide mission. Just going there exposes astronauts to huge level of radiation, atrophy, mental problems and the sheer amount of weight added to the craft to sustain them. I think it's 9 months to get to mars? Yeah, it would be great. I watched Armstrong step on the moon on that day in 69'. It was awesome.

landrvr1
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Post by landrvr1 » Sat May 24, 2008 3:13 pm

Am I the only Star Trek fan around here? The future of humanity is in space. If for no other reason than a good beat down by an alien race might be just the thing we need to get our collective heads out of our asses and perhaps learn a bit of humility along the way. Or at least come together so that we can get out there and destroy them. But that's negative thinking, and this post is about warm fuzzy space feelings.

*landrvr1 gets his Startfleet uniform on for the rest of this post*

I think it's fucking pathetic that after Kennedy & Johnson the US space program just went down the crapper. Sure, the space program was all about beating the Russians, but who gives a shit? Gotta start somewhere, right? All 3 of the presidential candidates' position on the space program is fairly pathetic; only Hillary has even remotely shown in interest.

All I know is this: If we keep fucking around in places like Iraq we're never going to get around to inventing the Warp Drive.

Live Long and Prosper, motherfuckers.

knotkranky
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Post by knotkranky » Sat May 24, 2008 3:19 pm

landrvr1 wrote:Am I the only Star Trek fan around here? The future of humanity is in space. If for no other reason than a good beat down by an alien race might be just the thing we need to get our collective heads out of our asses and perhaps learn a bit of humility along the way. Or at least come together so that we can get out there and destroy them. But that's negative thinking, and this post is about warm fuzzy space feelings.

*landrvr1 gets his Startfleet uniform on for the rest of this post*

I think it's fucking pathetic that after Kennedy & Johnson the US space program just went down the crapper. Sure, the space program was all about beating the Russians, but who gives a shit? Gotta start somewhere, right? All 3 of the presidential candidates' position on the space program is fairly pathetic; only Hillary has even remotely shown in interest.

All I know is this: If we keep fucking around in places like Iraq we're never going to get around to inventing the Warp Drive.

Live Long and Prosper, motherfuckers.
hell yeah.


Image

landrvr1
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Post by landrvr1 » Sat May 24, 2008 3:29 pm

lol.

The arguments against space exploration are old and tired, and generally revolve around "Lots of problems to fix before we spend money on space". Fuck you.

Feeding the homeless.
Boring.

Making sure people earn a decent wage.
Boring

Investing in New Viable Non-Petroleum Energy Sources.
Boring. (and, frankly, Warp Drive technology would also solve this so MLAH!)

Keeping jobs in America
Boring.

Universal / Socialized Healthcare
Boring.

Saving Social Security
Boring.

Inventing Warp Drive So's We Can Kick Some Klingon Ass
Exciting! Pee in my pants Exciting!

Angstrom
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Post by Angstrom » Sat May 24, 2008 3:56 pm

beats me wrote:I've been waiting for a topic like this for awhile, seriously.

Although not the point of this topic, I often wonder exactly what we are getting out of space exploration for all the money we are throwing at it. I mean really. Scientists are up there doing stuff, but what? What have we gained to date by launching people into space at such a huge cost? Or landing unmanned crafts to sift through dirt?
As our population continues to explode we need more territory to infest.
Sending un-manned probes to sift soil is the first stage of sending probes which can set up a tolerable habitat and sift minerals to fill it with oxygen and water. The plan is that the robots will be able to do this automatically - in time for the human overlords to arrive.

The first steps will be dire, uncomfortable and deadly for many of the people involved. But there is plenty of water in the martian poles - so it is a viable scheme.

We have a choice of scaling back our population numbers to those of the 17th century - which may happen through natural causes, or look toward putting all these extra bodies somewhere and trying to expand across our solar system. Some people might say that we shouldn't even attempt to terraform mars, but with population pressures and with mineral / financial incentives it is almost a certainty.
There are some nice expensive minerals out there in space you know.

I know it would be more cost effective to upload our conciousness into a space-faring robot, adapted for life in zero-G , complete with laser cannon. But I'm just not sure we have that technology yet.

I guess for now we will have to settle for 'political dissidents' in the Martian Polonium mines

landrvr1
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Post by landrvr1 » Sat May 24, 2008 4:05 pm

Angstrom wrote:
beats me wrote:I've been waiting for a topic like this for awhile, seriously.

Although not the point of this topic, I often wonder exactly what we are getting out of space exploration for all the money we are throwing at it. I mean really. Scientists are up there doing stuff, but what? What have we gained to date by launching people into space at such a huge cost? Or landing unmanned crafts to sift through dirt?
As our population continues to explode we need more territory to infest.
Sending un-manned probes to sift soil is the first stage of sending probes which can set up a tolerable habitat and sift minerals to fill it with oxygen and water. The plan is that the robots will be able to do this automatically - in time for the human overlords to arrive.

The first steps will be dire, uncomfortable and deadly for many of the people involved. But there is plenty of water in the martian poles - so it is a viable scheme.

We have a choice of scaling back our population numbers to those of the 17th century - which may happen through natural causes, or look toward putting all these extra bodies somewhere and trying to expand across our solar system. Some people might say that we shouldn't even attempt to terraform mars, but with population pressures and with mineral / financial incentives it is almost a certainty.
There are some nice expensive minerals out there in space you know.

I know it would be more cost effective to upload our conciousness into a space-faring robot, adapted for life in zero-G , complete with laser cannon. But I'm just not sure we have that technology yet.

I guess for now we will have to settle for 'political dissidents' in the Martian Polonium mines

...and our raping of other worlds is all going to go to shit as soon as the Commercial Towing Vessel Nostromo runs across a planet with a derelict spacecraft that's got a bunch of strange eggs inside that we just can't help but investigate.

dcease
Posts: 2405
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Post by dcease » Sat May 24, 2008 4:22 pm

hey kranky, where can you watch it? i'd love to look at that shit, i'm all for exploration. as stated previously, much better waste of money than war...


btw, anyone ever look at "rocketman"?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDlbDMI6 ... re=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOrT0X8i8zI

harland williams is great :D

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