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Russia To Study Martian Moons Once Again

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the phobos-grunties dept.

Mars 119

Robbie writes "The Russian space program once faced bleak prospects, receiving meager government funding. Meanwhile, the United States and the ESA continued to send automatic probes to the Red Planet. NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers are now crawling on the planet's surface, while their Russian prototypes never lifted off and are now on display at the Space Research Institute's museum. However, the situation seems to be improving today. Under a stage-by-stage national program for studying Mars, the Phobos-Grunt automatic probe will be launched in October 2009. This cutting-edge modular spacecraft costs just 1.5 billion rubles ($64.4 million)."

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119 comments

Phobos Grunt = Doom guy (2, Interesting)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#24239915)

You know they play it in Russia too. This must be an engineer having a chuckle...

Re:Phobos Grunt = Doom guy (1)

dnwq (910646) | more than 5 years ago | (#24239981)

How so? [wikipedia.org]

In the Doom novels, the main character is referred to as Flynn "Fly" Taggart, which is universally suggested to be the Doomguy from the games. However, Tom Hall's original design draft, also known as The Doom Bible, suggested his name was Buddy Dacote ("Dacote" being short for "Dies at conclusion of this episode", which is indeed the fate of the character, although he continues his adventure in the second episode). In the Doom film adaptation, the main character, John "Reaper" Grimm (played by Karl Urban) is also suggested to be the Doomguy, which comes as a surprise to those expecting the more recognizable Sarge (played by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) to take the role.

Re:Phobos Grunt = Doom guy (3, Informative)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240037)

"Grunt" is the Russian word for "soil", not a word for "An infantry soldier. slang (orig. US)". But still, yours is an interesting thought. :-)

Re:Phobos Grunt = Doom guy (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240045)

Given the level of international cooperation, the guy who named the project almost certainly speaks good English and has had enough contact with Americans to pick up slang, and maybe figured the guys who signed the cheques didn't.

Re:Phobos Grunt = Doom guy (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240125)

"Grunt" is the Russian word for "soil"

He should have called it "Earth" then. In Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat books people of the distant future wonder why the ancestral home of mankind was called "dirt".

Re:Phobos Grunt = Doom guy (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#24243629)

He should have called it "Earth" then. In Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat books people of the distant future wonder why the ancestral home of mankind was called "dirt".

"Earth" comes from the Hebrew "Artz" which means Earth, ground, and dirt.

Re:Phobos Grunt = Doom guy (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 5 years ago | (#24242491)

"Grunt" is the Russian word for "soil"

I know quite a bit of Russian, and that's news to me. According to this [freedict.com], Russian word for "soil" is pochva, and that's the word I'm familiar with.

Re:Phobos Grunt = Doom guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24243263)

"Grunt" means soil in Polish.
In the funny twist "pochwa" means vagina in Polish.

Re:Phobos Grunt = Doom guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24243975)

Well know another bit. It's pronounced "groont" and has common roots with the word "ground".

Re:Phobos Grunt = Doom guy (2, Informative)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 5 years ago | (#24244763)

They are mostly synonyms.

"Pochva" means a part of Earth's crust on which plants can grow.

"Grunt" means any soil.

PS: Russian is my native language.

Re:Phobos Grunt = Doom guy (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 5 years ago | (#24245583)

I know quite a bit of Russian, and that's news to me. According to this [freedict.com], Russian word for "soil" is pochva, and that's the word I'm familiar with.

Comments like this always leave me scratching my head. The second sentence is a complete non sequitur unless one has never heard of synonyms. I don't believe the author has never heard of synonyms. So what exactly were they thinking when they said this?

Re:Phobos Grunt = Doom guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24243727)

Being Russian I'll tell you that grunt does mean soil that's characteristically rocky. The little pebbles you cover unpaved roads with is called grunt.

First ever probe to return to earth from Mars? (2, Insightful)

anilg (961244) | more than 5 years ago | (#24244359)

Looks like this mission is the first ever in the world with plans to return back to earth from Mars(or its moons). And for under 100 mill$, its a bargain.

Best of luck to the P-G team.

Bread and circuses, minus the bread (4, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#24239951)

I study minority languages of Russia and travel to many areas of the country outside the big, internationally known cities. There is desparate poverty everywhere. I'm not one of those killjoys who think you have to completely solve all human ills before launching anything into space, but it's a big mystery how Russia can come up with money for space, and yet can't seem to raise the standard of living enough to stop its demographic implosion and high rates of unemployment and deadly alcoholism. The country's priorities are so much more mixed up than the homelands of NASA or the ESA that they should seriously put this on hold.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (5, Interesting)

mahmud (254877) | more than 5 years ago | (#24239985)

I'm not one of those killjoys who think you have to completely solve all human ills before launching anything into space, but it's a big mystery how Russia can come up with money for space, and yet can't seem to raise the standard of living enough to stop its demographic implosion and high rates of unemployment and deadly alcoholism.

Because if you actually studied Economics instead of minority languages, you would understand that Russia is already overspending on its social programmes. Giving money to the poor is the best way to fuel the inflation. Plus 65M$ is a drop in a bucket compared to the current Russian currency reserves.

I am not one of those killjoys who think that poor people shouldn't be helped at all and that the markets should completely take over the welfare functions but it's a big mystery how some people fail to see the big picture even though they routinely travel through the country and are exposed to the economic processes taking care there.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (1)

mahmud (254877) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240001)

In the last sentence:
s/taking care there/taking place there/

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (4, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240027)

Giving money to the poor is the best way to fuel the inflation.

You don't have to directly hand out cash to people to eradicate poverty. Governments routinely boost the economies of regions hard hit by giving tax breaks to local businesses, maintain the infrastructure they built, and spend more on education there. (Adjacent republics in Russia can have wildly different economies based on how well the schools are preparing people for a global economy, look at the difference between poor Yoshkar-Ola and increasingly affluent Cheboksary.)

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (3, Insightful)

mahmud (254877) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240085)

I guess what you are pointing at is the difference in the quality of management by the governors and the local legislative and executive bodies in different places.

Certainly the quality of the bureaucrats in Russia has a lot of drastic improvements to make. Still, having a decent space program does in no way interfer with the management issues that plague the Russian "glubinka". Quite to the contrary, if the youth of the country will see that the once powerful scientific industry of the country is getting up on its feet again, they will be more eager to join the engineering courses, and other scientific studies that have lost a lot of their glitter and prestige during the wild 90's.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240109)

I guess what you are pointing at is the difference in the quality of management by the governors and the local legislative and executive bodies in different places.

Not at all. Much has been written about how local governors in many republics are little more than puppets of the Kremlin, having no authority of their own and quickly being replaced if they come up with any independent initiatives. Why the Kremlin is favouring a tiny handful of poor areas while leaving most to rot is a big mystery.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (4, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240043)

Oops, to continue my last post: it seems like Russia is abandoning huge amounts of its territory in a way I've never seen in the U.S. or the EU. Things are left to rot, people pack up and move to Moscow (virtually every young minority person I know is there already or is planning to go soon) or abroad, and no local businesses ever come in. And yet, as it self-defeatingly retreats from all this space, the Asian portion of which which is ripe for China to eventually grab through force or demographics, Russia gets more nationalistic and ethnocentric of late.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (1, Insightful)

megaditto (982598) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240067)

Russia gets more nationalistic and ethnocentric of late.

As does any nation in decline. (Sadly, now including the US of A...)

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24240853)

Russia gets more nationalistic and ethnocentric of late.

As does any nation in decline. (Sadly, now including the US of A...)

Every nation on the rise bordering or sharing a territory with a nation in decline gets more nationalistic and ethnocentric. (offensive)

Ditto for every nation which feels threatened (from nations on the rise, or whatever human-brought dangers), which includes both Russia and USA. (defensive)

China is not all over Siberia already partially because China undergoes huge demographic aging (shrinking, in the long run) and it blunts the push it would otherwise have. If you are a young Chinese, you know there will be more space and goodies for you in China in the future. However, since there is acute lack of young females, you will probably emigrate to find yourself a bride, thus pushing the population even further down. You won't be interested to fight for Siberia, because it is largely unpopulated (again, not enough women). On the other hand, Russians have surplus of women, which is a reason for Chinese to be more friendly to Russians (unless they have a plan to invade most population dense parts of Russia).

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#24243343)

Yeah, after killing all those females leading to a male surplus the only solution is to kill a bunch of males aswell! ...

Are there really such a huge difference?

World factbook:
Age structure:
        Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 20.1% (male 142,085,665/female 125,300,391)
15-64 years: 71.9% (male 491,513,378/female 465,020,030)
65 years and over: 8% (male 50,652,480/female 55,472,661) (2008 est.

Sure it's noticable, but not huge. Some men have to do without a woman, or share. But I live in Sweden and is without one anyway so what's the big deal? =P

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (1)

emilper (826945) | more than 5 years ago | (#24243645)

On the other hand, Russians have surplus of women

So, you're interested in the age bracket where there is a surplus of women ? I mean: 60+ ...

Also, the so called demographic "decline" is just couples choosing to have children later ... wait for this to stabilize then talk about demographic decline.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 5 years ago | (#24243385)

"Oops, to continue my last post: it seems like Russia is abandoning huge amounts of its territory in a way I've never seen in the U.S. or the EU."

Twice the land area, half the population, and central planning isn't around to tell them where they have to live any more.

"Things are left to rot, people pack up and move to Moscow (virtually every young minority person I know is there already or is planning to go soon) or abroad, and no local businesses ever come in."

May I suggest touring places like Ohio, Michigan or Missouri?

"Russia gets more nationalistic and ethnocentric of late."

Compared to what, out of curiosity?

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (-1, Flamebait)

megaditto (982598) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240053)

Well, there are ways to fight poverty that don't fuel inflation. Things like strategic loans and subsidized (government-backed) contracts worked extremely well for FDR and Hitler.

But I guess it's good news for us that the Russians would rather support our economy than in their own.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (3, Funny)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240279)

Head hurting...how the HECK did you get off mentioning Hitler and not breaking Godwin's?

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (1)

initialE (758110) | more than 5 years ago | (#24241719)

It's not about mentioning Hitler, it's about comparing people to him, or methods to his, I guess.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (2, Interesting)

TheJasper (1031512) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240093)

I'm not one of those killjoys who think you have to completely solve all human ills before launching anything into space,

I am not one of those killjoys who think that poor people shouldn't be helped at all and that the markets should completely take over the welfare functions .

I study neither economics nor minority languages. It seems to me however that quite a bit of corruption has a negative effect on both capitalistic and socialistic programs.
A prestige project is good for national morale and could help the country as a whole. At 65M$ (10â approx) it isn't all that expensive. Of course the whole program costs more.
Keeping it in perspective, the russian gdp is 1.3 trillion $, the budget is 299 billion$ in, 265 billion$ out. Meaning about 24 billion $ is surplus. 65M$ is negligble.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24240519)

Here's the issue: a $65 million *successful* probe is certainly something for national prestige. While Russia can certainly build some things cheaper than the US does, a space probe can't be built too cheap. The engineers and rocket scientists who know how to build these things work on an international market. You can't buy quality rocket scientists or space probe engineers cheap. The immense failures of the Soviet Mars program is perhaps the greatest example of this. And the immense success of the NASA and ESA probes (especially the $1B+ probes) shows how valuable having a well equipped world-class team can be.

I give this probe a 70% probability of orbiting Mars, a 40% chance of landing and returning data, and a 20% chance of returning a sample. I rate this so low because of the low rate of space probe construction by Russia (less than 1/10th that of NASA); the retiring of the Vega team, the last Russian team to land something successfully on another planet nearly two decades ago; the low success rate of probes to Mars (0% Russian Mars lander success rate); and the cheap cost of a probe where the scientists and engineers are hired from a world market.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (1)

FromellaSlob (813394) | more than 5 years ago | (#24241007)

I give this probe a 70% probability of orbiting Mars, a 40% chance of landing and returning data, and a 20% chance of returning a sample.

Let's assume that your probabilities are correct. At 20% success rate, you'll probably need to send five probes to ensure success. At that level, these might-go-wrong $65 million probes still compare favorably to the NASA right-first-time $1 billion probe.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24241647)

You add non-mutually exclusive probabilities thusly:

P(A or B) = P(A) + P(B) - P(A)*P(B)

The final probability with 5 probes is 67%, not 100%. Even with 10 probes it is only 89%. Additionally, NASA wouldn't spend $1 billion for this spacecraft. It would be more likely that NASA would spend $200 to $400 million.

One more point: a failed probe may indicate a common design flaw. It doesn't matter how many times you add zero, you'll still get zero. If both Viking Landers or both Mars Exploration Rovers had a common design flaw that prevented a safe landing, the redundant probes would have counted for nothing. Considering the narrow Mars launch windows, it would probably be wiser to send an expensive, high probability probe than send a fleet during one window or stagger probes every two years between windows.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (1)

FromellaSlob (813394) | more than 5 years ago | (#24243583)

The final probability with 5 probes is 67%, not 100%. Even with 10 probes it is only 89%.

My previous sloppy math aside, I'm guessing that 89% probability compares favorably with a NASA probe. They have had their share of failures.

Additionally, NASA wouldn't spend $1 billion for this spacecraft. It would be more likely that NASA would spend $200 to $400 million.

Would 10 of the cheapo probes cost 10*65 million to build? I'm guessing much of the cost is R&D, which you only have to do once, rather than unit production and launch cost. Say if half the $65 million were R&D, we're looking at only $357.5 million for 10 probes. This would put the 10 cheapo probe option still within the same ball park as NASA. That's the cost of an 89% success probability - It's likely that you'll be successful before you have to launch that many.

One more point: a failed probe may indicate a common design flaw. It doesn't matter how many times you add zero, you'll still get zero.

Alternatively, if you don't go for simultaneous launches, you have 9 more chances to analyse and correct the flaws and get it right. Of course, if you're in a hurry and need to nail it on that first launch window then yes, I grant you that the expensive probe may be better. But then again, the R&D period for the cheap probe will probably be much shorter and so you may be able to catch an earlier window.

Now I'm no expert, and these figures could be way out (based, as they are, on your plucked-out-of-the-air estimate of 20% success) I'm merely trying to illustrate that the cheap & cheerful approach has it's merits too. What I do know is that while the Russian space program has indeed suffered from chronic underfunding, NASA on the other hand pisses money away like a meth-addled whore. You can't necessarily make direct value comparisons between their expenditure - the Russians do get more for their money. For decades, they've proven their ability to put stuff in orbit for a fraction of NASA costs.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (2, Interesting)

infolib (618234) | more than 5 years ago | (#24241667)

Because if you actually studied Economics instead of minority languages, you would understand that Russia is already overspending on its social programmes. Giving money to the poor is the best way to fuel the inflation.

If they can really build spacecraft to bring back frigging soil samples from a martian moon for only 60 MBucks, wouldn't economy rather dictate that other nations out-sourced their development to Russia? It might actually help their economy and total global friendship and all that. And the budget of {NA|E}SA.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (1, Troll)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240065)

it's a big mystery how Russia can come up with money for space, and yet can't seem to raise the standard of living enough to stop its demographic implosion and high rates of unemployment and deadly alcoholism.

Consider India, which has been a fantastically successful exporter for centuries, and has a large middle class. It still has hundred of millions of dirt poor people.

The only reason I can think of is entrenched social inequity. It doesn't have much to do with how much you spend on space programs. It is caused by racism, prejudice and apathy. We have the same problem in Australia with our aboriginal people.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (1, Interesting)

inflex (123318) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240155)

Unlike India with it's various classes and such things as "untouchables" at least in Australia there is a genuine continuing effort to -try- and improve things for the Aboriginals. The issues surrounding the disproportionate level of poverty, disease, crime etc with Aboriginals are complex to say the very least but at least we're trying to find a way to make things better. I know around here there have been many success stories.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24243459)

Poverty in India == Caste? Last I looked, the Chief minister of my province, and of a majority of most other provinces, were "lower" caste. There is more than 35-40% affirmative action. The poor are still poor because of the same causes that exist worldwide - the the top of the economic pyramid always denies access from the bottom to their resources ...

Who the fuck feeds you this meme of Poverty in India == Caste? Perhaps your friendly local church that, by mixing myths about India from reality there, seperates you from your money to proseltyze and convert those poor "low-caste" Indians into pliant altar boys and organ donors.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (1)

ricegf (1059658) | more than 5 years ago | (#24244449)

Who feeds you this meme of Poverty in India == Caste? Perhaps your friendly local church

I've been a Christian for 47 years, and still haven't heard a single sermon on Indian Caste. Seems like we're always talking about Jewish people for some reason. I feel deprived.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (4, Insightful)

antirelic (1030688) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240179)

There is never a good time to do anything when it comes to the suffering/malignancies of humanity. If we used every problem as a reason to stop moving forward in other areas, the United States would never have put a man on the moon. Just take a look at this wiki page with references to 1969:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1969 [wikipedia.org]

You have the Vietnam War, massive protests throughout the country, civil rights movements (and everything that went along with it)... etc.. The world will always be a messy place, no reason to stop making progress.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240957)

Pardon me for questioning a sacred cow here, but SO WHAT if we had never put a man on the moon? Certainly, we've reaped real benefits from the early space program (communications satellites, GPS, etc.). But what would we REALLY have suffered if the Apollo program had never happened? The only thing we would have missed (as far as I can tell) was a chance to show up the Russkies (the one and only time NASA ever did something the Russians didn't do first, whoopty doo!). And, with the Cold War in retrospect now, who really gives a shit about that?

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (1)

pokeyburro (472024) | more than 5 years ago | (#24243515)

Read this [wikipedia.org], and do your utmost to grok it as deeply as you can.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#24244033)

That's an awful amount of money to pay for a very brief morale boost.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (1)

praksys (246544) | more than 5 years ago | (#24242271)

You have the Vietnam War, massive protests throughout the country, civil rights movements (and everything that went along with it)... etc.. The world will always be a messy place, no reason to stop making progress.

None of those problems had anything to do with a lack of money. Indeed some of the the social upheavals were the result of prosperity, rather than poverty, and in the late 1960s the US embarked on the largest scale anti-poverty spending scheme in history (LBJ's "Great Society program).

The GP is correct that Russia's problems are of an entirely different sort. The population is imploding, and the domestic economy is going with it. The only thing keeping Russia going is the current high price of oil.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24240307)

In this particular case, I wouldn't bother about the poor people much. I would bother about the poor Russian economics, poor state institutions, poor roads, poor internet, poor laws, poor courts.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240389)

There is desparate poverty everywhere.

As there was in Russia in 1917, or a century before.

..but it's a big mystery how Russia can come up with money for space, and yet can't seem to raise the standard of living enough to stop its demographic implosion and high rates of unemployment and deadly alcoholism.

I respect your opinion greatly, as you indeed have first hand experience of what is happening in Russia, but from my reading of Russian history (biased as it may be) poverty has been widespread throughout Russia's long past. There appear to be few golden ages, certainly nothing that resembles prosperity reaching the lower classes. The current disorder and corruption in Russia is particularly bad, especially when you throw in a rushed sexual revolution mixed with drugs and chaotic government. The space programme, I think, is a benign thing and probably worth the effort notwithstanding, compared to, well, pretty much everything else you hear about, like the Chechen war and so forth.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24240391)

Well they have the money; you don't..
SO SHUT THE F U C K UP!

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#24242363)

I don't know, maybe because high tech projects can lead to more income?

And they probably have some pride / weapons was important / ..

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 5 years ago | (#24242745)

The basic problem with tath idea is encapsulated by the phrase "Throwing money into space."

The money does NOT go into space. A rather small amount of metal and some organic matter goes into space.

THE MONEY STAYS ON EARTH. It provides JOBS.

During the Great Depression in the USA, they spent massive amounts of cash on 'beautification' programs that paid for art. This one done in part to employ the people.

If you are against poverty, you should be infavor of space program. It is a worthwhile program that EMPLOYESS people.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (1)

bonehead (6382) | more than 5 years ago | (#24243451)

The swimming pool in my hometown was built during the depression under such a program. No backhoes, no tractors, just a bunch of guys with shovels. And it's a BIG pool.

All the concrete work, plumbing, brick work, etc... was also done 100% by hand. Partially because there just wasn't much equipment available, but mainly because doing it that way allowed the project to keep more people on the payroll for a longer period of time.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24243977)

Have you ever been to Detroit, Michigan or Camden, New Jersey? There is desperate poverty everywhere. It's a big mystery how America can come up with money for two foreign wars, and yet can't seem to raise the standard of living in (some of) its urban centers.

Several flaws in this logic (1)

melted (227442) | more than 5 years ago | (#24244911)

Disclaimer - I've spent substantial time in Russia and seen things first hand. Now, the flaws:
1. Space programs are cheap compared to social programs. $65M is nothing.
2. If you don't pay the engineers, they will leave and they can't be easily replaced. In other words you have to keep them occupied, or someone else will.
3. This money doesn't just "disappear". It gets paid to the folks who, as you astutely put it, "live in poverty" by US standards.
4. A lot of the folks who live in poverty would not try to improve their situation if there was a fire under their ass. This is a Russian phenomenon - I've never seen it anywhere else. Back in perestroika days, people would continue to go to work despite not being paid for months. If you don't want to live better, it's naive to expect that the Big Brother will help you out. And that's exactly what a lot of those folks are expecting.
5. American standard of living is not universal. Some people just need less to be happy.

Re:Bread and circuses, minus the bread (1)

underpants_gnome (1226602) | more than 5 years ago | (#24247323)

Should the Human species as whole stop pursuing Space, because there are people starving in Africa?

I admit that it wasn't the best analogy, but couldn't come up with a Car one.

have you seeen my shoe laces (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24239957)

they are making facis of quella scioppero the prime number of

That's no moon... (3, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#24239959)

...wait, my bad. It's a moon.

Re:That's no moon... (4, Funny)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#24239969)

...wait, my bad. It's a moon.

Just wait until they introduce a hydrostatic equilibrum requirement for moons. When that happens, it'll be a dwarf moon. Or a Phoboid.

Re:That's no moon... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240073)

...wait, my bad. It's a moon.

Just wait until they introduce a hydrostatic equilibrum requirement for moons. When that happens, it'll be a dwarf moon. Or a Phoboid.

Oh damn I have already posted so I can't mod you hilarious and a little bit too close to the truth.

Re:That's no moon... (1)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240113)

If I had a dollar for every comment titled "That's no moon..." that I've seen on /., well... I'd probably be sued by George Lucas... But assuming that didn't happen, I could easily afford my new video card several times over. That is, of course, not counting comments titled "That's no moon..." that I haven't seen :P

Re:That's no moon... (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240181)

What about all the robot overlord comments? Hell, I'd just like to have a dollar for all the robot overlord comments that I posted.

Re:That's no moon... (1)

vaz01 (1206962) | more than 5 years ago | (#24241863)

I find it really odd that I haven't seen any mention of "In Soviet Russia, martian moon probes you"... or something to that effect.

If Russia had a dollar for every time that's been posted on /., it'd have itself a free Phobos-Grunt.

Re:That's no moon... (2, Interesting)

mbone (558574) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240857)

You are aware that in the 1950's there was a serious proposal from the Soviet astrophysicist I.S. Shklovsky that Phobos actually was a space station ? This hypothesis attempted to explain the obital decay of the moon by atmospheric drag, which meant that it had to have such a low mass to area ratio that it basically had to be hollow.

Now the model for the orbital decay of Phobos is that it is due to tidal friction, but the spacecraft idea was seriously entertained for a while.

Wow (1)

Atti K. (1169503) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240041)

Now prepare for Soviet Russia jokes in 3... 2... 1...

Re:Wow (2, Funny)

TheJasper (1031512) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240111)

In Soviet Russia the jokes prepare for you.

happy now?

Re:Wow (1)

bonehead (6382) | more than 5 years ago | (#24243519)

Somebody please hurry up and figure out time travel so we can go back and erase Yakov Smirnoff from history.

Re:Wow (1)

ringm000 (878375) | more than 5 years ago | (#24244231)

Reporting my first temporal excursion since joining IATT: have just returned from 1977 Odessa, having taken the place of one of the MID clerks and denied an exit visa for Yakov Naumovich Pokhis. Let a free world rejoice!

Re:Wow (1)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 5 years ago | (#24245047)

I have just returned from 1977, having gone back to fix your error. Turns out that if Yakov does not leave Soviet Russia, he becomes next Stalin, and CCCP wins Cold War.

One has to wonder (1)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240103)

If Russia actually thinks the space-race can ever go their way again ? Not inconceivable but surely a highly improbable concept. So why the effort then ?
Perhaps because they would rather keep their rocket-scientists at home than have them all leave for high-paying jobs at NASA and the ESA ? Especially after the not insignificant government subsidies that paid a portion of their study fees.
An investment the Russians would surely want to capitalize on - and the engineers must get a kick out of the new challenges they face. After all building viable rockets at a minor percentage of their usual cost is a very interesting challenge to engineers (we may not like to admit it but all engineering is within a certain resource-space and budget is one of the limited resources).
More importantly - if they do it well, I can see it having a real benefit on their economy. If you can get nationalistic issues out of the way (and the cold was IS over right ?) surely the ESA and NASA would love to buy this cheap-but-great rocket tech and rather invest THEIR budgets in improving them to do even more, for example by investing more in robotics to build the NEXT generation rovers ?

So I wonder if these considerations were what really fueled the politicians (the scientists are easy, the good ones at least want knowledge of knowledge's sake and never really cared about the space-race for political reasons) to give the budget this required or is there perhaps a lingering longing for the power of old Russia and the days when they LED the space-race ?

Re:One has to wonder (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240221)

If Russia actually thinks the space-race can ever go their way again ? Not inconceivable but surely a highly improbable concept. So why the effort then ?

Just because one guy thinks he is racing the other, that doesn't make it a race. I don't see how a country wishing to continue its space program automatically puts it into a race.

Re:One has to wonder (1)

Trent Hawkins (1093109) | more than 5 years ago | (#24241133)

It's not so much a Race, it's a business. People need to launch satellites and the people they go to are Russians. It makes you very marketable when your rockets are cheaper and more reliable then the competition (a good bang for the buck, so to speak) and when you have a space agency that's perusing space exploration you encourage innovation... un-like the US that can barely keep it's shuttles flying.

Re:One has to wonder (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 5 years ago | (#24241435)

that was what I was thinking in the back of my mind. At my company, we are facing a bit of a crunch right now. We had a hiring lull for a period of 10-15 years. The result is that we have a bunch of 20 somethings, and 50+ somethings. It is great for someone like me since the opportunity to advance is much easier. Unfortunately, it is very difficult cramming in all of the knowledge from my coworker before he leaves. And lets just say that cramming about the 'lessons learned' from the Apollo missions is definately a firehose treatment. And since he has first hand engineering knowledge from it, that doesn't place him in even the 50-something age range.

The point is, with space, you really do run the risk of starting from zero if you don't keep it going and keep the information flowing from one generation to the next.

Re:One has to wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24240443)

The simple answer is that there really is no space race at the moment. There are 3 countries putting people into orbit right now, and maybe 5 who could if they wanted to but it just doesn't seem all that worthwhile.

NASA claim they want to go to mars, but everyone knows that isn't going to happen with forseeable funding. Or the moon for that matter. At best they get a new heavy lift vehicle and use it to send some large robot probes.

Even if the chinese do decide they want to go to the moon they are unlikely to want to do anything with it. All you get when you go there is a hostile environment and silicon rich dust. We have plenty of that back here.

There is a possible justification if helium 3 ever becomes valuable, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

If space starts looking valuable again then people might make more of an effort, but the "race" ended back in the sixties. America won.

Re:One has to wonder (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#24241091)

You speak of the Russian space program is some forgotten relic of the past. In your alternate history I guess NASA doesn't have to bum rides from them every time their shitty space shuttle falls apart (and in the future when it gets retired with no replacement yet in sight). In fact, with the sole exception of the first man on the moon, Russia has ALWAYS led the way in space (as loathe as the American media are to admit it).

Phobos is intriguing (5, Interesting)

denver38 (1050472) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240139)

Phobos never failed to intrigue me. From Wikipedia: Phobos's unusually close orbit around its parent planet produces some unusual effects. As seen from Phobos, Mars would appear 6,400 times larger and 2,500 times brighter than the full Moon appears from Earth, taking up a quarter of the width of a celestial hemisphere. Some nice pictures of Mars, including Phobos, can be found here: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/06/martian_skies.html [boston.com]

Re:Phobos is intriguing (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240219)

The grooves are really strange. Looking at the pictures they seem to line up with the orbital motion of the moon, ie, a bit like streaks of windblown mud on a car.

I wonder if they are caused by debris thrown up by impacts on the surface of Mars. I imagine Phobos flying through clouds of debris, some of which splutter off the leading face of the moon, then fall back and roll along the surface, creating shallow crater chains.

Re:Phobos is intriguing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24242083)

Plundering lines from Wikipedia does not make you insightful. Thankfully.

Re:Phobos is intriguing (2, Interesting)

mbone (558574) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240727)

Phobos is dynamically very interesting. Its orbit is decaying, due to its tidal interaction with Mars, and yet the tide it raises in Mars (as seen by its orbital decay) indicates a flexibility in the crust and mantle of Mars that is not in agreement with other measurements.

Re:Phobos is intriguing (1)

jimbob666 (1050308) | more than 5 years ago | (#24243759)

These pictures have made my day. Truly awe inspiring. I stared at the sunset one for ages. Mind blowing stuff.

Caviar shortage (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240203)

Some needs to tell the Russians that the beluga sturgeon isn't the same as the beluga whale.

There's no caviar on Mars' Moons. Just plenty of blubber, obviously.

Would be a milestone (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240313)

Getting a payload back from Phobos would be good practice. Getting a manned mission back from Phobos would be even better. Preferably rendezvousing with a Martian payload a lander has deposited.

Remember, it wasn't Apollo 1 that landed on the moon. When people start talking about an Apollo 8 style mission to Mars (but better), we'll know Mars isn't a fantasy anymore.

See? See? Now we have to... (1)

WDot (1286728) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240493)

Pour millions upon millions into space travel! If we don't, those damn ruskies will beat us!

...Pretty please?

Re:See? See? Now we have to... (1)

Trent Hawkins (1093109) | more than 5 years ago | (#24241175)

Pour millions upon millions into space travel! If we don't, those damn ruskies will beat us! General "Buck" Turgidson: Mr. President, we must not allow a Phobos gap!

I wish they would go back to Venus (3, Interesting)

mbone (558574) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240709)

Basically all of our knowledge of the surface of Venus comes from the Soviet Venera [mentallandscape.com] spacecraft. The Soviets developed the ability to land spacecraft on the hellishly hot surface of Venus, conduct experiments, and send back some pretty cool pictures [mentallandscape.com].

Given that Venus is pretty similar to the Earth, except with run-away global warming, and that no other space agency has seen fit to do any surface missions, I wish that the Russians would send some more landers to Venus.

Re:I wish they would go back to Venus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24246395)

Why would they go back to Venus?
It is basically early Earth.

The only reason they go to Mars is because there is life there, or at least, there might have been.
Incoming "troll" in 3... 2... 1...

Pictures from the previous Phobos Mission (2, Informative)

mbone (558574) | more than 5 years ago | (#24240759)

Pictures from the Soviet Phobos mission can be found here [mentallandscape.com].

Re:Pictures from the previous Phobos Mission (1)

thedistrict (1327685) | more than 5 years ago | (#24241173)

Very cool. Thanks for posting the link to this. I agree with posters before, the Phobos missions are really interesting. Mars is the new frontier in some ways in that we haven't been there and it is realistically possible to go to their in a manageable amount of time. Every time stuff comes back from these missions I get excited. I was really interested in the ice that it looks like they found pretty recently.

bring back dirt samples? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24241913)

not in my back yard!

have they not looked at the creepy crawly [genetologi...derzoek.nl]

Russia will build a manned depot on Phobos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24247657)

It's the way to get to Mars
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