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NASA's New Lunar Rover, Now Testing In Arizona

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the detatchable-p-suit dept.

NASA 59

MarkWhittington writes "NASA has unveiled a new prototype lunar rover, called the Chariot, a production version of which is hoped to be operational on the lunar surface by 2019. NASA is now testing the Chariot lunar rover in Arizona, on terrain that resembles the lunar surface." Perhaps Arizona's an even closer match to the moon's surface than is Texas, or Moses Lake, WA where NASA was testing the last time we mentioned Chariot. (Here's a bit of video from the Texas round.)

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59 comments

No, bad match (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25513135)

The moon gets more rain and less Sun.

It looks strangely familiar (2, Funny)

retech (1228598) | more than 5 years ago | (#25513249)

desert rover [impactlab.com]

Actually (4, Informative)

djupedal (584558) | more than 5 years ago | (#25513261)

Perhaps Arizona's an even closer match to the moon's surface than is Texas, or Moses Lake, WA

It puts them closer to the University(s) that have been taking over many of the projects. For NASA, it is a budget thing - for the Unis', it works as a recruitment tool when the public is looking, and play-time when not...

Re:Actually (1)

CarneAzada (1382153) | more than 5 years ago | (#25513281)

Please elaborate on this "play-time" you speak of.

Re:Actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25514435)

It's called a field trial. You go camp out with other like-minded individuals and see if your hardware works under "analog conditions". It's like a comicon but with real robots and slightly more women.

Re:Actually (2, Informative)

Hawthorne01 (575586) | more than 5 years ago | (#25513609)

IIRC, NASA used the terrain around Ajo [wikipedia.org] as testing grounds for the first lunar missions.

I've been to Ajo, I spent a week there one day. It's a perfect location for simulate the moon; rugged, desolate, and devoid of any signs of human habitation.

Re:Actually (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 5 years ago | (#25513731)

Why is the lack of human habitation required for testing a buggy? :P

Re:Actually (1)

ctetc007 (875050) | more than 5 years ago | (#25516485)

Well, I don't think you get a realistic test driving it on the streets of, say, LA, Houston, or any city/town.

My guess is that we just haven't had much development in these areas that closely resemble the moonscape. It's not that they were looking for uninhabited places (or maybe they were), but that nobody really wanted to live in these areas (desert, etc).

Re:Actually (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25517567)

Why is the lack of human habitation required for testing a buggy? :P

Well, I don't think you get a realistic test driving it on the streets of, say, LA, Houston, or any city/town.

They can always test it at the White House. There hasn't been signs of human life there for months.

Now if they REALLY want to test it somewhere REALLY desolate, they can try John McCain's campaign. Sarah Palin's doing a good job sucking the life force out of it.

Re:Actually (3, Funny)

Arivia (783328) | more than 5 years ago | (#25514071)

If you spent a week there one day, you may want to see a doctor.

Re:Actually (1)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 5 years ago | (#25514333)

Realistically, are we ever going to see this thing in action? The current polls and prediction markets suggest that Obama is going to crush McCain like an insect- and some kind of soft, squishy insect, not a hard one, like a beetle- on election day. Obama has previously said that he's willing to delay funding the Constellation program of manned spacecraft to fund his education initiatives. I think he may have backed away from this, but at any rate, I think it suggests that manned space exploration is not high the list of priorities for the (likely) future president of the United States.

And it's hard to see how it could be. We're currently fighting two wars, have a massive deficit, and may be on the brink of a global recession. In this climate, space exploration is the kind of thing where most people will decide that it could wait a few years. I know it's not popular to talk about this stuff, but NASA is a government agency, and ultimately it's dependent upon federal dollars to either make this happen, or not. Personally, I happen to agree with Obama. If our money was unlimited, I'd be in favor of manned exploration, but when research budgets are finite, I think that unmanned missions accomplish vastly more science for each dollar spent.

bangs for your buck. (1)

bornwaysouth (1138751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25514921)

The object in the 60's wasn't I suspect to put a man on the moon, but to gain control of space. I do not understand otherwise why it is so difficult to repeat what was done 2 generations ago.

You also had a population then that believed in creating science rather than it being someone else's problem. Today, you are much better off being a lawyer or PR consultant or something and just buying it. This is probably true for for many OECD countries. Science is not cool. (Evolution vs creationism, yada, yada yada.)

So the next president has a number of real problems. He inherits an economy that really has problems supporting moderate comfort let alone excesses like war. How do you justifying paying money for cosmology? People get as much excitement from a computer game. To most, it isn't real anyway. That is the force behind the 'it-was-done-on-a-set-in-Nevada' jokes.

I have been a professional scientist, and I would have to agree with you. In terms of value for money, the new lunar rover lacks punch. In essence, the argument is that NASA, given 11 years more work and a squillion dollars, can put a cut down Winnebago on the moon. That's a hard sell. I'd get paid more as a PR guy pushing it than I would as a scientist developing it.

So, we stay on Earth. It has the good side effect of removing any delusion that there is anywhere to go if we screw the environment too much.

Meantime...
Good boy, Mars Rover. No need to heel. Just keep digging for bones.

significant geology, etc. - solar system history (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25515165)

The new rover will enable serious long-term scientific work on the Moon. We've never had that before. And we're not only lucky to have this nice habitable planet to live on; the Moon is actually the best place in the solar system to study the history of our neighborhood. Understanding that history could lead to tremendous advances in every area of science influenced by, well, where we are and how we got here. (I think that's most of science.)

There is really no other way to get that information efficiently than being on the Moon.

Re:Actually (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 5 years ago | (#25515297)

IIRC, NASA used the terrain around Ajo [wikipedia.org] as testing grounds for the first lunar missions.

I've been to Ajo, I spent a week there one day. It's a perfect location for simulate the moon; rugged, desolate, and devoid of any signs of human habitation.

That's one long day.

One concern... (4, Interesting)

rarel (697734) | more than 5 years ago | (#25513285)

It's all cool and dandy, but from TFA:

"One of the more unusual innovations is a pair of slip-on space suits attached to the back of the pressurized cabin. Rather than taking up room with a full-size airlock, a "plainclothes" astronaut simply slides into an empty suit, pulls a lever to close the hatch and detach, and walks away. The process can then be done in reverse to re-enter the cabin."

What about the dust? Everything I've read about lunar mission states lunar dust is super powdery and could be a real bitch in a pressurized environment...

(I know, with all the PHDs over at NASA they certainly thought of that... I'm certainly interested in how they plan to control that)

Re:One concern... (3, Funny)

mcbutterbuns (1005301) | more than 5 years ago | (#25513337)

I'm certainly interested in how they plan to control that)

Why with a little help from our friends B & D:

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

Re:One concern... (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25513489)

It's all cool and dandy, but from TFA:

"One of the more unusual innovations is a pair of slip-on space suits attached to the back of the pressurized cabin. Rather than taking up room with a full-size airlock, a "plainclothes" astronaut simply slides into an empty suit, pulls a lever to close the hatch and detach, and walks away. The process can then be done in reverse to re-enter the cabin."

What about the dust? Everything I've read about lunar mission states lunar dust is super powdery and could be a real bitch in a pressurized environment...

This way is actually much better. During the apollo missions the dust came into the LM with the suits. If the suits actually stay outside the inside of the rover will be very clean. The suits will need maintenance but this could be done outside in vacuum.

Re:One concern... (2, Informative)

ctetc007 (875050) | more than 5 years ago | (#25516527)

Actually, it will just reduce the dust problem by about half (maybe more, depending on how the suits are docked). The back half of the suit (backpack, etc) still enters the cabin before they doff their suits.

So while half to most of the dust problem has been eliminated, they are looking at things like static electricity to *almost* eliminate the rest of the dust. (Wish I had official sources, most of this info I learned from going to lectures as a JSC co-op).

Re:One concern... (4, Informative)

wegstar (888789) | more than 5 years ago | (#25513507)

From the video here: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/10/081023-new-lunar-rover.html [nationalgeographic.com] The suits are attached the outside, and astronauts simply slip into the suits from the cabin. This quite ingenious design avoids introducing any speck dust into the cabin.

Re:One concern... (1)

rarel (697734) | more than 5 years ago | (#25513797)

Oh ok, I guess I had misunderstood, I hadn't realized the suits themselves actually stayed outside... Nice workaround.

Thanks!

Re:One concern... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#25514083)

It doesn't "avoid" lunar dust, it reduces the amount that gets in. Very nice solution for doing so. Means they probably can also reduce the amount of prep time for an EVA ("extra-vehicular activity" or doing stuff in a space suit) which is another serious restraint on astronaut activity.

eva prep time drastically reduced... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25514223)

...from a few hours to a few minutes! it's beautiful. :)

Actually, not that ingenious (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25514891)

that is exactly how suits are handled inside of top notch isolation rooms. This is the exact same concept.

Re:One concern... (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#25515159)

Wow! Just like this [purrsia.com] . Actually, they could do like they do in some Chinese restaurants: Layers of plastic sheets. All the astronauts would have to do is peel off the dirty layer, and they're good to go. Or they could use a lint brush. Any lunar dust sticking to the seals would be doing so through static. An adhesive roller could easily pull the dust off the seal.

Looks huge.. (1)

Leuf (918654) | more than 5 years ago | (#25513377)

Is that going up with the astronauts or sent in a separate launch?

Re:Looks huge.. (2, Informative)

cohensh (1358679) | more than 5 years ago | (#25513883)

Is that going up with the astronauts or sent in a separate launch?

The astronauts will go up on an Ares I rocket. The equipment for a moon landing, this included, as well as the Earth Departure Stage will go up in an Ares V. After they rendezvous in Earth orbit they will then go to the moon.

Suggested tag: thatsnomoon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25513433)

I mean really, how much more suitable can it be than here?

Stories like these (2, Insightful)

Aerynvala (1109505) | more than 5 years ago | (#25513437)

really make me regret my decision to not go to the Science and Math focused high school.

Will they find the mars rover there? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25513505)

Will they find the mars rover there?

Re:Will they find the mars rover there? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25513511)

In Arizona? Or on the moon?

Re:Will they find the mars rover there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25513553)

You say that in jest I'm sure, but how about a real Congress-critter's question? Prior to the 110th Congress, Shelia Jackson-Lee (Democrat) served on the House Science Committee and on the Subcommittee that oversees space policy and NASA. She once asked, during a visit to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, whether the Mars Pathfinder had taken an image of the flag planted on Mars in 1969 by Neil Armstrong.

And people actually voted her into office!!! Think she can understand the current financial crisis? Ha!

Re:Will they find the mars rover there? (1)

ctetc007 (875050) | more than 5 years ago | (#25516555)

Oh, don't get me started on Sheila Jackson Lee. I hate her (and her staff) with a passion.

She's one of those showboat politicians who goes to events, gets up on stage to get her picture taken with someone important, and leaves. I also had to deal with her staff to invite her to an event, and boy are they rude...

I really wish I was in her district so that I could vote against her. Well, better than that is being in Nick Lampson's district. Go NASA all the way!

but... (1)

Jazz-Masta (240659) | more than 5 years ago | (#25513547)

does it have GPS Nav?

Re:but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25513565)

there is no GPS satellite constellation around the moon, so no, the rover does not have GPS Nav.

yes, it has GPS (1)

phossie (118421) | more than 5 years ago | (#25513721)

CHARIOT does have GPS, in fact. Part of the point of these analog campaigns is to develop and refine specifications for what is and isn't needed. The consensus is that GPS is a very good thing. Remember that we are still about 10 years from launch. Within that time, work will be done on positioning systems. No, it will probably not look a lot like GPS in terms of implementation - but there will almost certainly be some sort of (near?) real-time positioning system. It's actively discussed.

The other thing GPS provides - and at this stage it's almost more important - is hugely useful data about the actual test parameters. GPS ties a lot of this work together. CHARIOT has GPS, and so do the various suits and backpacks (for shirtsleeve ops) the suit subjects wear. High resolution spatial data is good for linking all the other data.

Send one a year and then RC them lunar RV's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25513563)

I like this idea. I would send one a year and make
them run on remote control from earth as well. That way you could haul stuff from spot to spot, build a base, trailer them together...

I would haul all the stuff left behind on each mission to a central location to build a base. All those struts, tanks, electrics, etc. should be reused for parts or to build new stuff!

Make them modular like a truck, i.e. have the
ability to do flat bed(to haul big stuff), camper style(for manned missions), utility box(for robo missions)...

robotic precursors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25513763)

Please lobby your US reps/senators to push for "robotic precursors". Used to be in the plan. Hardware is capable. Program canceled due to budget constraints. Not only a problem for operations / logistics and science, but sadly it's an international political issue that may restrict site selection if other bots get there first ("don't mess with our experiments"... because we require the same courtesy, that argument holds water).

And yes, CHARIOT is a platform, current testing is two ops concepts (pressurized vs unpressurized) and the difference is a module.

Moon landing a farce? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25513645)

NASA is now testing the Chariot lunar rover in Arizona, on terrain that resembles the lunar surface.

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury. The Moon landing WAS INDEED fake. Man never stepped on the moon. They stepped in Arizona!

Why will this take 11 years? (2, Interesting)

kimvette (919543) | more than 5 years ago | (#25513781)

"NASA has unveiled a new prototype lunar rover, called the Chariot, a production version of which is hoped to be operational on the lunar surface by 2019. "

Why does it take so long for we Americans to get anything accomplished nowadays? Didn't the Apollo missions take only seven years to get from conception to landing, including development of command modules, lunar rovers, lunar modules, and a fairly reliable multi-stage rocket engine system? Why is a new lunar rover going to take 11 years to go into production when technology is so much more advanced now and innovation is at a faster pace than ever?

Re:Why will this take 11 years? (1)

inKubus (199753) | more than 5 years ago | (#25513941)

Okay, boss, this LTX-71 concealable mike is part of the same system that NASA used when they faked the Apollo Moon landings. They had the astronauts broadcast around the world from a sound stage at Norton Air Force Base in San Bernadino, California. So it worked for them, shouldn't give us too many problems.

Re:Why will this take 11 years? (1)

cohensh (1358679) | more than 5 years ago | (#25514013)

Why is a new lunar rover going to take 11 years to go into production when technology is so much more advanced now and innovation is at a faster pace than ever?

Well for one we're not going to land on the moon for at least another 11 years. I think it will probably be more like 15. The lunar rover isn't the slow part. The slow part is the lack of funding. Right now they have to fund both the shuttle program and development of Constellation. In 1965 the GDP was $712 Billion [nationmaster.com] with a NASA budget of a little more than $5 billion [wikipedia.org] or about 0.7% In 2007 the GDP was about $13.8 Trillion [cia.gov] with the NASA budget at about $17 billion, or about 0.12%. It's not the scientists and engineers, it's the politicians.

Re:Why will this take 11 years? (1)

ctetc007 (875050) | more than 5 years ago | (#25516595)

In addition to the funding problem, I've also seen examples of government mandated waste. A lot of the NASA contracts require that main contractor subcontract the work out to small disadvantaged businesses (SDBs). A lot of these SDBs are just middlemen getting a piece of the money.
Ex: Everything that flies into space must be space-rated, including the pens, pencils, markers, etc. If they want to use a Sharpie, they can't just go out to Target and get it, they have to get it from one of these SDBs. Guess what they do to "space-rate" the Sharpies. They buy it from Target/Walmart/Staples, etc, mark up the price ten-fold, and then sell it to the contractor.

Those smaller space companies out there like SpaceX and Interorbital are really making launches cheap by cutting out the middlemen who mark things up. If NASA could do that too, then we'd be getting to the moon much sooner.

We're kind of in a Catch-22 right now though. We're all against government waste, but many people argue in support of the things that are the cause of this waste. I can see how people want to support these smaller businesses. What they don't realize, though, is how this is causing those problems further up the line. This is really a trade off between trying to stimulate the economy and trying to reduce waste so that we can get there much more quickly and efficiently.

four answers in order of importance (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25514147)

first off, CHARIOT got to this point from nothing in 2 years. second, while you can say "we've been to the moon before" and be right, it's completely apples and oranges if you take even one small step beyond that.

0. i'll stick this one on top even though it's really part of another answer: You Aren't Excited About It. honestly that's the biggest problem. think hard about why your first impulse was to shrug this project off as slow and unexciting after you've read the other answers. then think about what's actually happening. then, and i'm completely serious, get excited about it! it's really exciting stuff! but this is a chicken-and-egg situation.

1. relative funding level. in this case, more money would actually help a *lot*. besides that, a lot of the money is going into rockets these days. the stuff the rockets are going to move around is sort of back-burner and shoestring (relatively speaking). unfortunately, all of this really needs to happen in parallel, because we don't want to get there and then have to figure out what we're going to do and how. Constellation is called an "architecture" for a reason. but the budget just doesn't support doing the necessary rocket stuff while adequately funding the basic conceptual experiments that give the rocket stuff raison d'etre. the analogs barely happened this year - in particular this one.

2. the NASA of Apollo was a completely single-minded organization. almost everything is different now, and NASA does a lot of work - very important work - that is not related (directly) to "putting stuff on the moon." but there is also a sad story to tell, mostly related to the competition for funding between 4 mission directorates spread across a bunch of centers (and their political relationships). at this point i'm almost convinced that it would be impossible for any single person to know everything that NASA is doing *even conceptually*. and going back to the first sentence of this point... the entire country was fully behind Apollo. it seems like hardly anyone even notices Constellation.

3. more complexity -> more testing. next time NASA astronauts are on the moon they're going to be doing a heck of a lot more than landing, grabbing a few rocks and going home. we're talking lunar infrastructure and long term experimentation, multi-day traverses, etc. this is orders of magnitude more difficult than Apollo, and from what i've heard/seen, Apollo people involved in the current effort would not hesitate to agree with what i'm saying here. the new rover is not going to be abandoned as junk after a few uses. this is a modular concept with a lot of intended uses.

4. did i mention funding? seriously. this is not a "mythical man month" problem at this point. funding comes from congress. congress allocates funds according to the demands of constituencies. that's you.

want this to look and feel more like Apollo did in its day? support it. especially politically, but even just talking about it and attempting to appreciate what's being done would help.

-anonymous from flagstaff

Re:four answers in order of importance (1)

CraftyJack (1031736) | more than 5 years ago | (#25514525)

Mod parent up.

To your point 0, though: It would be a lot easier for the public to get excited about NASA work if NASA did a better job of presenting that work to the public. I know this has been said many times before, but that might be because it's a valid point. The problem as I see it is that the guys doing the work have bigger things to worry about than getting involved in marketing.

Everybody will say funding, but .... (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#25515023)

it is not just that. Last time, it was designed to simply show that we COULD land on the moon. Nothing more. More importantly, the saturn V design was actually based on saturn I, which was started in the 50's (something like 57 or 58). It actually took more than a decade to design and build.

Now, we are looking at it taking longer due to congress stretching it out, but also, we are not JUST going to the moon. This is about putting a base there. The rover before was literally a slow go-cart. THIS is an electric RV. In fact, we are looking at 62 miles, but the reality is that by 2015, we will have capacitors that will hold many times that amount. We will probably see storage that will allow us a couple of hundred miles. And this is just a rover.

We will almost certainly go back with inflatable habitats that will be buried. My guess is that bigelow, spacex, and armadillo will team up to go there by 2016 or sooner. Bigelow will put his first habitable station up by 2011. SpaceX will be servicing those and the ISS for 4 years. And then along will come Ares I around 2015, which would eat big time into spaceX funding. So, Musk will push to go to the moon. Armadillo will want to go because they will have a craft that will do vertical take off and landing. That will be needed to serve as a freight/personal carrier on the moon. Simply put, Armadillo will not really have much luck competing against not just spaceX, but also virgin rockets and other high altitude rockets. So carmack will have a strong incentive to put his work on the moon. It really comes to, these 3 will push us to the moon so as not to compete directly with the feds.

My big prediction is that we will see Ellis, McNealy, Gates, jobs, or most of all Allen be involved in this in a BIG way within 2 years. At that time, these guys will get BIG dollars all lasered on getting us to the moon quickly, and owning some of the prime spots.

Re:Why will this take 11 years? (0)

aqk (844307) | more than 5 years ago | (#25515147)

Why will this take 11 years? WHY, You ask??

ANSWER#1:
America is tired of sending all those Apollo Astronauts to the Moon, only to have them crash and burn, and litter the surface with lunar modules and body parts!
It's time NASA did this SAFELY! Kapeesh?

Dissatisfied with #1? OK....

ANSWER#2:
NASA knows, with the whole world watching, they cannot pull off one of those Hollywood sound-stage stunts anymore!
This time, they really have to go to the Moon!
Besides, it's only a matter of time before one of those 210,000 NASA engineers and
scientists (or their sleazy apologist Phil Platt [badastronomy.com] ) breaks their silence and confesses to the whole Apollo charade!

THIS time, NASA has to get it right, and do it right! Once John McCain is president, he certainly won't stand for any of their shenanigans! Like G.W.Bush, he's been tested in battle!
...
Tune in tomorrow: How the WTC was knocked down by by the Mossad and the FreeMasons!

Re:Why will this take 11 years? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#25523579)

Why does it take so long for we Americans to get anything accomplished nowadays? Didn't the Apollo missions take only seven years to get from conception to landing, including development of command modules, lunar rovers, lunar modules, and a fairly reliable multi-stage rocket engine system?

The answer to the latter question is actually "no"... (To the surprise of many.)
 
Some key, early, dates in the Apollo program:

  • 1955 - Work starts on what will eventually become the F-1 engine.
  • 1958 - work starts on the Juno V, which will eventually become the Saturn family of boosters. Also in 1958 (or thereabouts) the Polaris guidance computer which will form the basis of the Apollo CSM and LM guidance packages is designed, and the H-1 engine which will eventually power the first stage of the Saturn I and Ib starts development.
  • 1960 - the J-2 engine (used in both the Saturn I family and the Saturn V starts development, the Saturn S-IV stage contractor is selected, initial feasibility studies of a three man capsule, formal commencement of the Apollo project, detailed design studies of the Apollo spacecraft.
  • 1961 - Final specifications for the Apollo CSM completed, CSM contract competition commences, MIT selected as prime contractor for the Apollo Guidance and Navigation systems, Kennedy proposes the US go to the moon "in this decade"... (Balance of 1961 omitted.)

 
Alert readers will do the math and note that Apollo was being designed as Mercury was flying. One outcome of this is that lesson learned in Mercury aren't applied to Apollo, with tragic consequences. As the Mercury program progressed, they had great difficulty in modifying and maintaining the capsules - as a result, Gemini was designed for much easier access to its internal systems. Apollo wasn't, and the resulting cramped conditions inside the capsule during assembly, modification, and checkout were implicated as being among the causes of the Apollo 1 fire.
 
Another result is that the Apollo CSM struggled with its two gimbal guidance system which greatly limited maneuvers due to the need to avoid gimbal lock. Gemini shows that a three gimbal system is more flexible and less dangerous - but the design for Apollo's guidance system was already frozen.

I am concerned about the design. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25514117)

The more I have seen of it, the more rigid and less agile it has appeared. From TFA, apparently the wheels currently do not even have independent suspension, much less active suspension or articulation.

One step forward, two steps back?

fully independent, articulated, active suspension (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25514341)

The thing handles like a dream. CHARIOT is significantly more capable than the chase humvee except in terms of top road speed.

Re:I am concerned about the design. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25523951)

From the 3rd paragraph of TFA.

"The Chariot lunar rover is a large, six wheel drive vehicle with active suspension and computerized navigation."

Go see it at the US Space and Rocket Center (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25514247)

This looks a lot like an old dusty machine sitting in the shadow of the rockets in Huntsville. I can't recall the name of the thing, but if I recall correctly, it was supposed to be a Lunar survey vehicle.

Lunar conspiracies abound... (1)

RudeIota (1131331) | more than 5 years ago | (#25515179)

Arizona? Hey, wasn't that where the original mission took place? [sadtrombone.com]

Okay, with some more seriousness though (because I know it will come up), there are some pretty sound rebuttals to the U.S moon landing conspiracy. Here's some more info [wikipedia.org] on the theories and some possible reasoning

One of my personal favorites is the claim that it could have never happened because the astronauts could have never survived the Van Allen belt. James Allen himself said this was silly. I remember hearing that the astronauts would had to have spend a month in the belt to reach a reasonably harmful exposure.

Since I don't believe in the conspiracy, I guess that makes me a coincidence theorist?

The elephant in the room (1)

Simon Brooke (45012) | more than 5 years ago | (#25515917)

Yes, I can remember standing outside a television shop in Harbour Square in Kirkcudbright, Scotland, watching Neil Armstrong [wikipedia.org] climb down the ladder. It was a different world then. Then, the United States was the richest nation in the world, and was engaged in a geopolitical struggle with Russia, primarily, and China, secondarily. Going to the moon was at least partly a triumphalist assertion of US economic and technical dominance - you could, and no-one else could. And, because going to the moon was effectively an act of war performed by warriors, safety was not an especially big concern.

The world has changed. The US and Russia are both essentially bankrupt, with debts mainly to China which there is no possible chance of repaying; we're looking at a real possibility of a US sovereign default in the next ten years, and Russia could default on its debts this year.

Whoever the next US president is, whatever his priorities are - heck, even if it's Buzz Lightyear [wikipedia.org] - the only language spoken on the moon in 2020 will be Mandarin.

Grovvy man (1)

Usquebaugh (230216) | more than 5 years ago | (#25516011)

and other useless 60s phrases.

Is NASA trying to do anything new or is it just re-living old glories? We did this already now get on with something new.

I'm all for new science I am not for keeping a bunch of useless wanna bes in jobs on the public dollar.

Mars is/was new. Sending the rovers was great. We need to send some more/better rovers. Which planet do we need to send rovers to next. IMHO, this is what NASA should be doing for the next 50 years, cheap rocket delivery of data gathering rovers.

The shuttle missions should be put out to tender and NASA should not bid. Why? Because if you fail to deliver do not expect ever to get another tender. LEO etc should all be commercial by now.

NASA should be doing blue sky not repeating itself or ferrying kiddies toy experiments around.

Re:Grovvy man (1)

travbrad (622986) | more than 5 years ago | (#25518257)

Well a manned trip to mars is something that is going to take months to get there and back, and once there I'm sure we would stay for quite a long time. People have never really stayed on an isolated planetary body for such a long time. When we went to moon originally our longest stay was only about 3 days. I think there is certainly some value in testing out the concept a little closer to home (where you can abort mission/head home a lot easier if serious problems arise). I know people have stayed in space for a long time on the ISS, but staying in space 200 miles away from earth is a lot different than staying on a planet that is 36 million miles at it's closest (and 250 million miles at it's furthest). Now that said I think manned space exploration is overrated until we can have some sort of permanent bases on planets/moons. I guess you have to start somewhere though. Even then, I'm not sure people will really be able to accomplish more than machines/probes (since NASA's budget seems to be the main limiting factor). Manned space exploration does have a "cool factor" to it, but it doesn't seem like people are that amazed by it anymore so it's hard to justify, especially with the United States current problems of wars, economic meltdown, poverty, health care, the list goes on. P.S. I think most of our solar system exploration should be unmanned missions to the various moons scattering our solar system. There are about 150 known moons, many with some very interesting characteristics (as opposed to the geologically inactive and dead rock that our moon is). It's sort of hard to explore the gas giants due to the extreme pressures and weather, and the lack of any surface to land on. Venus has some insane weather too, which would make exploring very difficult. Mercury doesn't seem like something particularly "new" compared to our moon, geologically dead, no atmosphere, etc. That really doesn't leave much other than Mars and the aforementioned moons.

Re:Grovvy man (1)

travbrad (622986) | more than 5 years ago | (#25518315)

Oops I had it set to HTML mode, hopefully it's easier to read like this:

Well a manned trip to mars is something that is going to take months to get there and back, and once there I'm sure we would stay for quite a long time. People have never really stayed on an isolated planetary body for such a long time. When we went to moon originally our longest stay was only about 3 days. I think there is certainly some value in testing out the concept a little closer to home (where you can abort mission/head home a lot easier if serious problems arise). I know people have stayed in space for a long time on the ISS, but staying in space 200 miles away from earth is a lot different than staying on a planet that is 36 million miles at it's closest (and 250 million miles at it's furthest).

Now that said I think manned space exploration is overrated until we can have some sort of permanent bases on planets/moons. I guess you have to start somewhere though. Even then, I'm not sure people will really be able to accomplish more than machines/probes (since NASA's budget seems to be the main limiting factor). Manned space exploration does have a "cool factor" to it, but it doesn't seem like people are that amazed by it anymore so it's hard to justify, especially with the United States current problems of wars, economic meltdown, poverty, health care, the list goes on.

P.S. I think most of our solar system exploration should be unmanned missions to the various moons scattering our solar system. There are about 150 known moons, many with some very interesting characteristics (as opposed to the geologically inactive and dead rock that our moon is). It's sort of hard to explore the gas giants due to the extreme pressures and weather, and the lack of any surface to land on. Venus has some insane weather too, which would make exploring very difficult. Mercury doesn't seem like something particularly "new" compared to our moon, geologically dead, no atmosphere, etc. That really doesn't leave much other than Mars and the aforementioned moons.

Comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25519959)

Call it a lunar SUV...plenty of room for collecting rocks. But I think they'll have a major problem with it collecting dust everytime astronauts exit or enter the vehicle. If keeping the shuttle orbiter clean of freeze dried caca is a problem, imagine what problem moon dust will be on lunar vehicles that are covered.

Way to go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25524873)

The thing better be prepared to drive there on its own, considering the "progress" of the Ares program.

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