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Mars Soil Frustrates Phoenix Again

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the pulling-out-doesn't-sound-manly dept.

Mars 221

Tablizer writes "The Phoenix Mars lander has been frustrated yet again by Mars's odd soil. The wet nature of the soil they are targeting appears to have made it get stuck in the scoop rather than drop into the oven. Past problems with similarly clumpy soil may have damaged the lander because the vibrator had to be used longer than it was designed for, resulting in a short circuit."

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Neato (4, Funny)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362939)

It's pretty interesting learning about the problems encountered while analyzing alien soil, but I'm not even going to touch that vibrator comment.

Re:Neato (4, Funny)

427_ci_505 (1009677) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362967)

Yeah, I'm not touching that vibrator either. Who knows where it has been shoved into.

Re:Neato (5, Funny)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363003)

Mars, apparently. Didn't know he was into that sort of thing. But then he is Roman.

Re:Neato (1)

sokoban (142301) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363761)

I'm picking up some good vibes from that planet.

Re:Neato (1)

TriezGamer (861238) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363923)

Comments like this make me feel +5 isn't enough. Well played, I haven't laughed out loud at a comment in quite a while.

Re:Neato (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363993)

Yeah. And I heard he was real close with his Greek pal, Ares. Close enough to share the vibrator? Maybe.

Re:Neato (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363199)

Waaaaaaallllll-EEEEE!!!!

Re:Neato (3, Funny)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362989)

Re:Neato (1)

bigplrbear (1179259) | more than 6 years ago | (#24364075)

Just to be safe, you better fsck it afterwards

PLEASE TAG VIBRATOR (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363105)

This would make my day. I'm a girl btw :)

Re:PLEASE TAG VIBRATOR (3, Funny)

khing (936015) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363131)

i'm going to be really immature and say "pics or ban" :P

Re:PLEASE TAG VIBRATOR (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363233)

that's "TITS or GTFO", you newfag

Re:PLEASE TAG VIBRATOR (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363379)

Oh I thought I was on /. not /b/

MOD PARENT INTERESTING (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363629)

Since I'm a guy and all :)

Re:MOD PARENT INTERESTING (4, Funny)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363747)

Mod grandparent unique, given it's slashdot and all.

Re:Neato (2, Funny)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363487)

Nope, I ain't touching that with my 12" pole... something like that.

Re:Neato (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363799)

Where is Ron Jeremy when you need him?

Re:Neato (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363817)

It's not interesting it's embarrassing. It's like they didn't test this thing at all. Did they even try scooping dirt up before dropping 420 million to send this contraption to mars.

AND, what's up with no redundancy on the ONE major component, the soil oven.

I think it's a waste of 400+ million dollars. Just to continue to theorize there could be life on Mars.

We are no closer to proving it and it's not likely going to be as easy as sending a probe and getting a couple scoops of dirt.

If they are serious about archeology on Mars.. it should be fairly obvious either they need to send humans are make MUCH better robots.

It seems to me badly design and unable to do even the most basic functions such as dig and load the oven.

The only thing going for it, is the landing site they picked which happened to be right on an ice sheet or such.

Knowing Mars might be have a frozen tundra like layer, especially where they landed, they should have tested it against hard tundra conditions.

You can see their design sucks, it can barely dig AND they nearly ruined it shaking the thing around to break up the sample.

So .. it can't dig... it can't break up the sample.. it can't get the sample in the oven.

It's a damn arm with a camera on it that cost 400 million.

AND you know, no matter what NASA says.. masses of people will reject any suggestion of life on other planets. .. especially DUMB ASS AMERICANS.

So, people who believe in the statistic certainly of life on other planets will be in the same place, albeit slightly more excited about the idea of Mars exploration, while people zealously reject life can exist anywhere but earth will continue to say.. see I told you so.

DAMN Nasa... spend some time and GET A CLUE.

The shuttle, ISS, the Mars polar lander, 3 dead astronaut crews ... and for what. What return are we getting on these missions ? We should have orbiters around every planet in the solar system streaming data to us and more rovers, but the obsession with proving beyond any doubt there is water on Mars is a waste of money.

I think most real scientists knew their was water on Mars, it's still interesting, but is it really 400 million interesting in a time when the US is heavily in debt.

It is one of the few fields we still dominate, but we need to prioritize and really get a plan together.

The moon base is another giant waste of money with no practical use and TONS upon TONS of upkeep costs. We haven't even found a use for ISS and now we need a moon base.

I'm up for a base on Mars because it likely has water and other fuel sources along with a lot of geological data that will definitely push several fields. But, then again in 30 years we might just be able to send robots to do all that and return with samples.

It wouldn't be so bad if Mars just had earth like gravity, but there is no getting around the fact that living in 1/3 gravity for extended times and then returning to earth is not healthy. The moon will be much worse. However, it's close compared to Mars. How much would constantly picking up and dropping people off to Mars cost ?

It would be pretty cool if we could leave them there for years and they could have the tools to expand and develop their colony, but it's almost certainly bad for your heart, bones and muscles to stay in low gravity and return to earth.

Will these people spend the rest of their lives on Mars ? Take your family.. start a new... Condo's on Mars.

It's not really a practical idea when you break it down. Unmanned missions are so much cheaper and constantly able to do more and more. We should stick with what works and let the EU, Russia and China go waste their money playing Buck Rogers.

We need better drones, better satellites and to actually engineer some of this high level theoretical science we have so someday space exploration is actually cost effective. A good start is designing a cheaper rocket or launch platform. Maybe using more smaller mass produced rockets could cut costs without cutting safety.

The entire developed world is looking for lower cost options to get into space. Instead.. we made the space shuttle.. effectively more expensive and less reliable. Of course, it was supposed to be cheaper ans safer, but they didn't think it through. They didn't consider maintenance and the perils of re-entry wear. It's sad, but the old Apollo style system was much more cost effective and safer. The space shuttle and ISS have been a total waste of money and effort. On top of that we have to keep it supplied.

Re:Neato (2, Interesting)

Benaiah (851593) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363903)

Besides the fact that your post was mostly rant there were a few good comments.

All of the problems so far could have been fixed by a guy with a hand trowel. He could dig, sieve and work the vibrator.

I think its time for a more general purpose robot to go.

Also this really should have been more thoroughly tested. I mean one of those things that help you get icecream off the scoop would have been useful now. Guess next time they will think "what if the soil is clumpy" before blowing a cool 1/2 billion. I'd rather watch a redneck playing golf on the moon then hear about mars landers.

Re:Neato (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363907)

too long; didn't read

Fess up.... (4, Funny)

WaxlyMolding (1062736) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362963)

How many of you saw the word "vibrator" and clicked it?

Vibrator had to be used for longer than designed.. (3, Funny)

greenguy (162630) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362971)

There's got to be a joke in here somewhere.... Wet nature... Drop into the oven... Got to think... Lemme get another beer.

Re:Vibrator had to be used for longer than designe (1)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363017)

Yes, it's a deleted scene from Stepford Wives Go To Mars.

Re:Vibrator had to be used for longer than designe (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363445)

I was thinking of the Two Girls One Cup that it would be a scene from.

Re:Vibrator had to be used for longer than designe (4, Funny)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363027)

There's got to be a joke in here somewhere.... Wet nature... Drop into the oven... Got to think... Lemme get another beer.

Why stop there? Anything can be a euphemism.

Frustrates phoenix...Wet nature...drop into the oven...get stuck in the scoop...damaged the lander...and of course, the universal problem everyone faces: ...the vibrator had to be used longer than designed, resulting in a short circuit.

Re:Vibrator had to be used for longer than designe (2, Interesting)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363241)

The research data collected from this event would be used to pave the way for human colonization of Mars. I hope...

Re:Vibrator had to be used for longer than designe (5, Funny)

j01123 (1147715) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363391)

There's got to be a joke in here somewhere....

Mars hasn't had contact with any life forms in hundreds of millions of years, at least. Of course it needed an unusually long time with the vibrator.

Re:Vibrator had to be used for longer than designe (1)

popeye44 (929152) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363803)

It always seemed a bit odd to me we send something a few million? miles to soil itself. I can soil myself and never leave my chair.

Re:Vibrator had to be used for longer than designe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363861)

Well it's a natural result of all that frustration...

Re:Vibrator had to be used for longer than designe (1)

kaufmanmoore (930593) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363887)

The lander has a hard time getting off, it needs more stimulation

YHBT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24362985)

The real reason for this story was to get the following quote on Slashdot's front page:

"the vibrator had to be used longer than designed, resulting in a short circuit."

Congratulations on getting it past the Slashdot editor.

Re:YHBT (4, Funny)

exley (221867) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363097)

Considering that this is from the "pulling-out-doesn't-sound-manly dept." I think the editor was all too happy to play along.

Timothy may also be getting an email shortly from Taco.

Re:YHBT (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363447)

Timothy may also be getting an email shortly from Taco.

Fish taco?

Re:YHBT (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#24364001)

Fish taco?

Hey! That's Cmdr. Fish Taco to you, bub!

Re:YHBT (0, Redundant)

AnimeFreak (223792) | more than 6 years ago | (#24364033)

Nah. Pink taco.

Re:YHBT (1)

machine321 (458769) | more than 6 years ago | (#24364013)

Does Taco have a beard?

That's what she said (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363019)

"... the vibrator had to be used longer than designed, resulting in a short circuit."

Time to upgrade to a real geek, I mean man, and put the toys away.

bah! (1, Funny)

nawcom (941663) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363029)

because the vibrator had to be used longer than designed, resulting in a short circuit.

I'm not surprised that the martian atmosphere is causing issues gettin' NASA's baby off.

"In later results, NASA found out out that the martian atmosphere actually helps with male ejaculation; The atmospheric pressure along with low gravity made a natural ejaculation travel 5 miles before hitting the ground."

Lotta problems on Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363073)

Doesn't it seem like every Mars mission (excepting the Rovers) has some show-stopping failures?

Almost like someone out there doesn't want us poking around on Mars... Hm...

--
Beer! [decaturspirits.com]

Re:Lotta problems on Mars (4, Funny)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363829)

Seems that Mars is a harsh mister

Re:Lotta problems on Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363873)

They don't want our diseases, remember?

soil problems (1)

alxkit (941262) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363075)

vibrator not strong enough? i hear you there, NASA. that's why we're on mars in the first place, i suppose.

Virbator Action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363085)

The short circuit was believed to have been caused when TEGA's oven number four was vibrated repeatedly over the course of several days to break up clumpy soil delivered to oven number 4. Delivery to any TEGA oven involves a vibration action, and turning on the vibrator in any oven will cause oven number 4 to vibrate as well.

This is too hot for Slashdot...

Definition of 'wet'? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363099)

What exactly is 'wet' about the soil? I see that the soil is icy (H2O ice or CO2 ice?), but as far as I knew 'wet' and 'icy' are mutually exclusive. Perhaps 'sticky' would be a better term? Or... is this some kind of cool ice that is 'wet' at very cold temperatures as opposed to good old fashioned dry ice?

Re:Definition of 'wet'? (4, Funny)

dnwq (910646) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363279)

"Wet" and "icy" are not mutually exclusive. Go watch an ice-cube melt.

Re:Definition of 'wet'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363403)

The temperature at the planet's surface varies widely during the course of a Martian day, from about 186 K (-87 ÂC) just before dawn to about 253 K (-20 ÂC) in the afternoon.

How does ice melt when the temperature is -20C? (I'm actually a bit stuck on this and am just looking for some clarification. Indeed 'melting' ice is wet, but ice when kept in sub-zero temperatures tends to be quite 'dry'. Is the heat being thrown off by the 'oven' melting the ice in the soil?)

Re:Definition of 'wet'? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363535)

the melting point of ice isn't 0 degrees C, except at one standard atmosphere of pressure, which Mars doesn't have.

Re:Definition of 'wet'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363581)

Ahh, Thanks for reminding me of that aspect. I am beginning to fear that my physics knowledge may be atrophying. :S

Re:Definition of 'wet'? (3, Informative)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363973)

Ahh but the triple point of water is pretty close to zero C, so you have to check the phase diagram to see whether it melts or sublimes at mars surface temp.

Re:Definition of 'wet'? (1)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363717)

Perhaps the scoop is not the same temperature as the soil.

Not just the atmosphere (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363649)

There could be other compounds in the ice that is helping it to do these actions. I would think that this is going to be very interesting IFF they can get some in the oven.

Anonymous Coward (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363113)

Analyzing ?

Inadequate testing? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363117)

Maybe I simply do not understand the design parameters for this mission, but:

  • They send a probe out to dig in the dirt and look for water an alien planet - but didn't think to try the scoop out in the backyard?
  • How is it valid to design something that could fail if simply left on for too long?

No offense to the hugely-talented engineers and designers involved in the creation of this spacecraft, but it seems like this probe needed an idiot-proofing pass (like consumer products having, eg: a heat sensor that shuts off a motor if it gets too hot).

Re:Inadequate testing? (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363287)

i'm guessing the lower gravity is why it didn't work scooping wet dirt like it did on earth. i'm pretty sure they tested it as well as possible.

Re:Inadequate testing? (3, Interesting)

emeade (123253) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363407)

After the loss of the first vehicle, they did extensive testing. The whole Phoenix story is truly rising from the ashes, and very interesting. I think it was on the Discovery channel.

My first thought was gravity as well, though I'd think we have enough physics simulations that we could at least do simulated testing under low grav. Looking at the homepage for Phoenix, it looks like they are looking into heat caused by the rasping might be contributing to the problem. Digging holes on Mars just isn't the same as digging them in your backyard, at least not yet.

Re:Inadequate testing? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363539)

i reckon they probably simulated the crap out of it, but i guess you never know until you do it for real.

Re:Inadequate testing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363409)

Huh uh huh huh. You said probe.

Actually, (4, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363667)

this was tested in all sorts of areas around the earth. To make something like this IS difficult. It is part of the reason why I really want to see us on mars. Once we are there, all the exploration will continue to be by robotics. It is just that ppl on the planet will put these systems together as well as fix them. I suspect that the fun jobs will still be handled by ppl on earth.

Re:Inadequate testing? (1)

typo83 (675739) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363781)

How are you going to test materials handling when the environment where the experiment takes place has a gravity less than half earth normal? Testing in an earth normal gravity doesn't reveal physical effects that are unnoticed in a 1G environment.

Re:Inadequate testing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363899)

Gee, if only we had an outpost in low Earth orbit where such material-handling experiments could be performed and where prototype equipment could be tested.

Re:Inadequate testing? (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363885)

I agree with the other repliers that its a difficult thing to test for, but do you really think consumer electronics are highly tested for possible failures?!? I just returned a coffee maker that died on its fifth cup of coffee.

A phoenix using an oven! (5, Funny)

pagewalker (1286802) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363123)

A Phoenix putting something into an oven... there go our tax dollars! Any competent phoenix would wait until its body burst into flame, then use the spare heat to analyze the sample.

I don't know about you, but I intend to write to my Congressperson.

---
Thousands are enslaved every day: http://www.riverofinnocents.com/ [riverofinnocents.com]

Re:A phoenix using an oven! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363237)

Wow, thanks for the insightful link! Now I know where to score some underage tail from mama and papa-san! And when they start sprouting pubic hair I can force them to do housework until I finally butcher them for their tender and juicy meat.
tl;dr fuck off with your politics, i block sigs for a reason

And we all know what a problem it is when... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363235)

your vibrator cuts out early.

Re:And we all know what a problem it is when... (0, Redundant)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#24364025)

your vibrator cuts out early.

Wha? Are the results rather anticlimactic?

Preparation Oversight (4, Insightful)

Joebert (946227) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363251)

I don't mean to troll, but I'd like to think that in a mission they're hoping to find water or ice or something along those lines, they'd anticipate the possibility of moist soil when designing their instruments.

Hopefully the next mission includes an icecream scoop.

Unmanned missions (4, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363297)

The nice thing about robomissions is that they are so much cheaper than manned missions and there are no widows when things do wrong.

Because they are relatively cheap you can screw up plenty and still do the work for less cost than a manned mission.

Re:Unmanned missions (5, Insightful)

RetroGeek (206522) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363473)

The nice thing about robomissions is that they are so much cheaper than manned missions and there are no widows when things do wrong.

And yet all it would take is for a human to crumble the soil in his hand.

Except.... (2, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363495)

He would not have survived the trip or the landing.

Re:Except.... (4, Funny)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363763)

So send a politician.

Re:Unmanned missions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363759)

And then get frostbite and suffocate.

Re:Unmanned missions (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363795)

The nice thing about robomissions is that they are so much cheaper than manned missions and there are no widows when things do wrong.

And yet all it would take is for a human to crumble the soil in his hand.

robotic-monotone ***Bzzzt***... Alas, I, POLAREXPLORER, for all the power of my mighty hydraulic crushing claw, cannot duplicate the qualities of a human hand. ***Bzzzraaat*** Next you will tell me cold logic circuits cannot match the sublime qualities of the human heart. ***gzzzzrp*** Tell me of this thing you fleshlings call love.

Re:Unmanned missions (4, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363851)

Because they are relatively cheap you can screw up plenty and still do the work for less cost than a manned mission.

The problem is, they aren't relatively cheap. You pay a fraction of the cost, and you get less than a fraction of the science.

Re:Unmanned missions (4, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363949)

On the other hand, humans are far more adaptable and can modify plans and experiments in a way no robot yet built could. Sometimes, you have to take the risks. If you want to consider costs, then let's say a robust manned mission costs fifty times as much as a robot mission. If you consider the missions that produced uncertain results (Viking landers and early probe photographs), minimal results (Phoenix) or no results at all (everything that has crashed), you are beginning to approach the cost of a manned mission, where a manned mission could have produced ALL of the useful data so far collected AND much of the data that has been lost due to unexpected conditions and unforeseen circumstances.

Yes, manned missions are extremely risky, and that means a danger of bereavement, but it is better to die with your boots on, making the discoveries of a lifetime, than to live in fear at the back of a cave. Indeed, if we look at places that are most risk-averse, we see that unexpected risks (when they arise) are actually the more dangerous for it. Risk aversity is no healthier than plunging straight into danger without care. Indeed, in a way, it is the same thing, except being risk-averse means you are always plunging into unknown dangers, never known ones. The correct solution is always to be risk-aware, to anticipate and minimize, but never to eliminate, danger. Eliminating danger is probably the most dangerous thing you can ever do.

Re:Unmanned missions (2, Insightful)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 6 years ago | (#24364035)

I strongly agree. One of my life mottos is:

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
Mark Twain

Re:Preparation Oversight (2, Informative)

moteyalpha (1228680) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363317)

I agree with that, I can't imagine sending something that far away and not testing it with every weird thing that you might find in a child's room like gum in hair, silly putty, slinkies, plastic peanuts, ice cream, cheese whiz, dry ice and on and on, It does seem a rather large oversight in testing. BTW the jokes were great and I assume that the article was somewhat of a setup for that. Now -that- is good planning, informative and easy jokes.

Re:Preparation Oversight (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363607)

I can't imagine sending something that far away and not testing it with every weird thing

It's a relatively inexpensive mission so they could not include everything under the sun. What if they did include everything under the sun, but there was no ice to sample? You just don't know until you go there. The next "ice" mission can now be more focused instead of trying to be everything, making it cheaper.
             

Re:Preparation Oversight (4, Insightful)

thewiz (24994) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363545)

Sounds like the soil is the consistency of clay. Trying to get clay out of a scoop takes water and a lot of patience.

Re:Preparation Oversight (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363603)

Hopefully the next mission includes an icecream scoop.

Or they could just send along some space ice cream [wikipedia.org] , which isn't wet at all. Hopefully the Martians won't complain.

Re:Preparation Oversight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363771)

Wow. I didn't know that getting a -1 Troll to turn into a +5 Insightful simply required that you say that you aren't trolling first!

I didn't mean to troll, by the way.

Obligatory (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363253)

If you use the vibrator, obviously the scoop is going to get wet.

My wife has that problem too. (1, Funny)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363277)

(couldn't resist)

Bad vibrator (5, Funny)

mdemonic (988470) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363289)

That's how it goes when they send a vibrator to do a mans job. Anyway, are the exploring that hole they found a while back?

Re:Bad vibrator (3, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363751)

That's how it goes when they send a vibrator to do a mans job. Anyway, are the exploring that hole they found a while back?

Oh come on!

You can send 1000 vibrators for the price of one man.

Vibrators always do what they are told.

Vibrators never get tired...

Because, someone had to do it: (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363303)

So if I'm reading the subtext properly, then the alternate headline for this story should be: "Lander discovers that Mars is in need of a better vibrator"?

If I, someone who has a serious interest in the Mars lander, wrote a theoretical story on the subject, would it qualify as "Mars slash-dot-fic"?

AFM (1)

Turiacus (1316049) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363325)

What I hope now is that after two months on the surface they will finally get around to use the AFM (and not just for a test). WTF is taking so long ?

All that money.. (4, Interesting)

handmedowns (628517) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363359)

And we couldn't implement "ice-cream" scoop technology =P

Re:All that money.. (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363765)

And we couldn't implement "ice-cream" scoop technology

Baskin Robbins didn't bid on the contract for some reason. Perhaps the name "Phoenix" made them fear for their stock, eh?

     

One sad conclusion (1, Flamebait)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363395)

...The wet nature of the soil they are targeting appears to have made it get stuck in the scoop rather than drop into the oven. Past problems with similarly clumpy soil may have damaged the lander because the vibrator had to be used longer than designed, resulting in a short circuit..."

It appears to me that these NASA folks did not test the lander harder or if they did, the tests they performed were invalid!

What I mean is - we have tones of wet clumpy soils on planet earth where tests could have been done enabling lander improvements to be made accordingly.

Sounds to me like another classic example of NASA's incompetence. Sadly things at NASA will get worse before they get better, and not before billions of dollars are "wasted."

Re:One sad conclusion (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363567)

well what are you waiting for, go get a job at NASA and tell them what they should have done and how they can beneift from your genious.

OR you might just want to think such comments through, like the fact the soil in the backyard is NOTHING like martian dirt.

Re:One sad conclusion (5, Funny)

goldsaturn (1220086) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363599)

Yeah, we could have found out exactly what Martian soil is like beforehand. We should just send up a robot to scoop some up and analyze it...oh wait.

Re:One sad conclusion (0, Redundant)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363633)

Did you even read the post? It mentioned "...wet clumpy soil..." Now, the last time I checked, we in these United States have lots of wet clumpy soil.

One Big Mega-Probe, or Incremental? (5, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363681)

Your joke raises an interesting question: is it cheaper to send up a single big swiss-army probe that has everything, or simpler probes that use lessons borrowed from the last probe? Phoenix is relatively cheap, probe-wise, such that its not like we put all our eggs in one basket on this one. A later probe can now be more focused to the task based on known soil characteristics.

It is hard to calculate a clean answer to such questions without having some experience with different designs. Mars is still a new world. Our experience with biology experiments with Viking suggests that the incremental approach may be better. We've learned how Mars may "trick" such experiments and how sneaky life can be based on Earth samples. We can now design experiments that rule out the traps that Viking discovered. Sure, we'll probably find new traps along the way, but nobody says exploration must be easy.
         

Perhaps, just perhaps.... (4, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363697)

They should have had you on the mission? I am sure that you really would have expected the exact kind of conditions that they had. After all, being nearly 2x as far from the sun, in the middle of winter, you might be more worried about hardness of items rather than stickiness, but that is just me. To be honest, I seriously doubt that you or the other ludites could even get a rock off this planet let alone deliver something to another planet.

BTW, if NASA is SOOO incompetent, why do they have a much better record at delivering vehicles to other planets than ANY other group? Me, I have my issues with them, but I have worked on a small part of MGS and know that there is a lot involved. These folks are doing good work.

Re:One sad conclusion (5, Informative)

typo83 (675739) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363891)

You ever run a front end loader? In January when the temperature is 9 below zero Fahrenheit? You know the 'scoop' on the front of the loader is called a 'bucket'? What happens when the loader operator digs into a pile of steaming coal, or gravel? The material is 'steaming' because it is warmer and wet than ambient air. The bucket is -9 degrees F, and the material freezes in the bucket. What does come out of the bucket goes into a dump truck (in some cases), where it freezes to the inside walls, corners and bottom of the dump body. At the end of the day, the truck driver, and the loader operator have to dig that material out by hand, with a shovel. Been there, done that. Why would it be any different on mars with colder temperatures, and 38% earth normal gravity?

Vibrator? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363639)

I had a feeling all along that those NASA types were perverts.

how about venus? (0, Redundant)

meeya (1152133) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363849)

if mars had this much trouble with vibrator, don't send any of them to Venus, there will be an explosion

Not wet (5, Informative)

katakomb (1328459) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363995)

The word "wet" implies the presence of a meaningful amount of liquid water. In this regard, the soil at the site is very unlikely to be wet (and note that the linked articles don't actually say that it is). The temperature and pressure conditions at the site only allow for solid and gas phases for H2O. Solid ice slowly converts to gas through sublimation when the ice is exposed by the scoop. Materials can clump for a variety of reasons. For example, lunar soil can cling to itself and to things like spacesuits even though absolutely no water is present at all. All sorts of factors can influence the cohesion of planetary soils, including the physical shapes of soil grains, the electrostatic properties of the grains, binding by spatter through micrometeorite bombardment (unlikely on Mars due to atmospheric protection) and, in the case of the Mars soils, even small amounts of ice have the potential to bind grains.

Well... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24364045)

Well... Mars does contain a fair amount of gooey caramel, so sticky soil surely shouldn't come as a surprise to NASA.

Yo mama (3, Funny)

devotedlhasa (1298843) | more than 6 years ago | (#24364049)

Yo mama ... may have damaged the lander because the vibrator had to be used longer than designed
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