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Project M Could Send Every Scientist To the Moon, By Proxy

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the why-leave-the-house dept.

Space 150

An anonymous reader writes with this interesting bit of speculation: "NASA can put humanoids on the Moon in just 1000 days. They would be controlled by scientists on Earth using motion capture suits, giving them the feeling of being on the lunar surface. If they can achieve this for real, the results for science research of our satellite could be amazing."

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The speed of light is a bit of a problem (4, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295062)

You can't get instant feedback from the moon. There's a slight delay. So, it doesn't really feel like you are holding something in your hands unless you're standing still. It mostly feels like you're drunk when you operate a waldo with a delay. People are going to have to get trained to deal with that.

Re:The speed of light is a bit of a problem (5, Funny)

colonelquesadilla (1693356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295070)

You can't get instant feedback from the moon. There's a slight delay. So, it doesn't really feel like you are holding something in your hands unless you're standing still. It mostly feels like you're drunk when you operate a waldo with a delay. People are going to have to get trained to deal with that.

We train for that in grad school.

Re:The speed of light is a bit of a problem (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295090)

You can't get instant feedback from the moon. There's a slight delay. So, it doesn't really feel like you are holding something in your hands unless you're standing still. It mostly feels like you're drunk when you operate a waldo with a delay. People are going to have to get trained to deal with that.

We train for that in grad school.

Yo mama trained me to last all night.

Re:The speed of light is a bit of a problem (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296132)

feeling drunk??

Wikipedia + google calculator (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295112)

363104km = moon's orbital perigee.
405696km = moon's apogee.

2*363104 km/c = 2.42236914 seconds of round-trip signal delay.
2*405696 km/c = 2.70651238 s

So maybe we don't need round-trip time, but just one-way streaming time. Divide by two.

Re:Wikipedia + google calculator (4, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295140)

Most of the delay on the Deep Space Network is a result of the 30 year old hardware that processes and transmit the signals.. the speed of light defines a minimum that is never practically met. Emory Stagmer talks about it in his interview on Spacevidcast [spacevidcast.com] .

Re:Wikipedia + google calculator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295796)

Then it looks like this is another goal in the timeframe for this project, replace the old crap floating in space.

And smash the old crap in to another crater in the moon, or something.

Re:Wikipedia + google calculator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295862)

Its old but can sustain high doses of EM radiation that would kill a common semiconductor in a second.

Re:Wikipedia + google calculator (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296418)

Still, no matter how hard you upgrade equipment and deal with processing delays, there is still the raw physics that must be addressed.

I admit that some of the hardware is using radio receivers which have vacuum tubes and computers processing data with core memory. This is a sort of thing that comes with "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality. It is also something that comes from government service, where it can take several different budget cycles to update equipment in a program like the Deep Space Network that generally doesn't scream for attention.

Another aspect of the Deep Space Network that needs to be considered is that it supposedly is being replaced by the "interplanetary internet" or whatever the current acronym and terminology is at the moment for the concept (it has changed a couple of times and I don't bother keeping track any more). There still is legacy hardware that is incompatible with this new communications scheme, so the DSN must be kept for awhile longer, but the money is getting dumped into the newer concept. While incredibly useful as a concept, the idea of sending internet packets around to planetary "nodes" is also going to introduce additional communications delays that simply weren't there before. Hopefully there won't be packets getting shipped off to Mars first before they go to the Moon, but that can be at least in theory happen with the routing protocols.

I would presume that "waldo" communication systems would have a more direct link to the surface of the Moon if it was to be something used on a regular basis.

Re:Wikipedia + google calculator (4, Informative)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295172)

Add a varying amount between 0 and 1/2 the circumference of the earth, with the 1/2 being best-case. I don't know what the velocity factor of optical fiber is. Yes, there's also a signal-processing delay, but let's not assume we're using 30-year-old equipment so it should not add very much.

Re:Wikipedia + google calculator (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295332)

The signal processing delay should definitely be taken into account. For instance, I followed this woman home one day. It was cool. I broke into her house and hid in her shower. I stayed there till the next morning waiting for her to come in, undress, and take a shower. When she came in and started to take off her clothes I began to masturbate. It was so extremely arousing. I guess I was to loud because she caught on and beat the living shit out of me with a soap on a rope. If you ask me I think my grandma should lighten up. I mean she saw me naked when I was little, so I really don't understand the double standard.

Re:Wikipedia + google calculator (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295334)

round trip time is what matters... seeing the results of your action before being able to correct it...

Re:Wikipedia + google calculator (2, Funny)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295420)

Depends. Suppose you saw another robot before he noticed you. You could take several shots at him before knowing whether the first shot hit, just to be on the safe side. It's a matter of knowing how to handle lag.

Re:Wikipedia + google calculator (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295826)

Cellphones add a delay of about a second when both phones are on the same network and talking to the same mast. I would have thought the kit to send signals to the moon would introduce an even longer delay. Then bear in mind that we are not always at the point of the earth closest to the moon, so that will introduce an even greater delay. I guess to have continuous contact with the moon, we would need to send the signal up to a satellite network which bounces it round to the nearest bird to the moon at that point, then sends it up to a lunar network, and round to the robot in question.

Re:Wikipedia + google calculator (2, Insightful)

AigariusDebian (721386) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295992)

That might be true for US cellphones, but for the rest of the world the delays are a few milliseconds within any country.

Re:Wikipedia + google calculator (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296148)

0:00:00.000 - Data from machine's eyes sent out
0:00:01.211 - Data reaches Earth, human acts on it
0:00:02.422 - Data gets back to moon, machine acts on it
0:00:03.633 - Human sees himself acting more than 2 seconds ago

No matter what, if Earth is involved you have to have round trip delay since Earth itself is operating on 1 second old data.

Thanks Bruce (3, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295192)

I probably would have gone with "You can't take and hold ground with bots - to stake a claim requires Men on the ground." But that works.

The bot thing is a distraction. If we don't get our genome off this mudball we're as doomed as the dinosaurs. Sooner or later some unpleasantness will occur.

Re:Thanks Bruce (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295436)

What if you could transfer your consciousness to the robots? Would that count? Just getting the genome off the planet is simple -- just send some human DNA up in a satellite. We need to better-define our goals.

Re:Thanks Bruce (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295512)

When robots count as Men, we'll have bigger problems than exploration of space.

Re:Thanks Bruce (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295874)

No-one ever thinks that all the way through.

"Transferring consciousness", in practice, would just mean programming the robot so that it acts exactly like you would in every way. You still have the original- it's more like you've copied it than transferred it. Unless you destroy the original (good luck with that) then it's not really any different from creating a regular automated robot.

And then there's the problem of "transferring back" when the robot has finished it's tour. Basically, that'd mean overwriting your brain with the one in the robot- again, good luck finding volunteers for that one. Anything less (just transferring over a few images and videos, say) is no different from what we do now- just looking at the images and videos sent back by robots.

And anyhow, we still haven't got computers anywhere near the point of being able to rival a human brain. If we did, sending humans up wouldn't be necessary anyway. Hell, the best we can do at "humanoid robots" is Asimo- which can *just about* climb up stairs...

Re:Thanks Bruce (2, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295756)

The bot thing is a distraction. If we don't get our genome off this mudball we're as doomed as the dinosaurs. Sooner or later some unpleasantness will occur.

If utilizing remote robots advances our knowledge faster right now than attempting to stuff a human being up there, we'll achieve sustainable space travel faster that way.

Though to be perfectly honest, we've sent remote robots to other planets many times. The mars rovers come to mind. The only difference is that this would be more representatively shaped... though with a 3 - 6 second lag time, it's going to have to be pretty autonomous anyway.

Re:Thanks Bruce (1)

sictransitgloriacfa (1739280) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295770)

Well, yes; but sending up telepresence robots would let us build necessary infrastructure on the moon to make colonization much easier. One way, you have to keep launching oxygen, water, and food out of a deep gravity well to supply the astronauts until they can make all that for themselves. The other way, you just use robots to build the needed infrastructure first. The robots can also be made more resistant to solar radiation and temperature extremes, and if there's a big snafu, at least no one dies of it.

Re:Thanks Bruce (3, Interesting)

grumbel (592662) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295842)

The bot thing is a distraction. If we don't get our genome off this mudball we're as doomed as the dinosaurs. Sooner or later some unpleasantness will occur.

If we can't get our act together and manage to survive on earth, our chances to survive anywhere else are pretty much zero.

Re:Thanks Bruce (1)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296432)

If we can get out act together but don't get off earth then our chances are pretty much zero too. If we distribute ourselves around the galaxy then there is at least a higher chance of at least one group getting their act together before being annihilated.

Re:Thanks Bruce (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295878)

Our genome evolved on this mudball, and the biggest hurdle in getting it off of said mudball is keeping it alive. Which is the reason we prefer to send bots, which are much better suited to the environmental conditions of outer space.

The smart way to go about things, then, would be to aim for ditching the genome altogether, and transfering "us" (our consciousness) directly onto the bots. The way computer technology is evolving compared to space travel, that's likely to be feasible long before the space elevators and warp drives anyway.

Re:Thanks Bruce (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296450)

If you can even remotely define consciousness in terms of a mathematical formula or something that can be put into a clearly defined algorithm, I might be able to bite on this concept of projecting our consciousness onto a robot of some kind.

To me, that is a couple of millenia away, not something which can be done next week. We know so stinking little about artificial intelligence that those who claim otherwise are simply raving lunatics. What we know about intelligence and sentient thought is mostly what we don't know.... sort of like what Aristotle knew about nuclear physics. He guessed correctly that there were atoms, but that was about the limit of correct understanding. I'd put our understanding of AI at about that level.

Re:Thanks Bruce (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296286)

Pff... We can build machines and soon grow bodies. What do wen seed our genome for? Yes, may be nice. But definitely not a must.

Usually, our brain, in form of data, would suffice. And that one could be sent as data. Giving us light-speed travel to every location that we already reached the normal way. Think about it: Using Project Orion [wikipedia.org] style rockets, we would perhaps just about get to Alpha Centauri when we would find a way to read a whole brain to transfer it.

Re:The speed of light is a bit of a problem (1)

pcolaman (1208838) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295400)

You've got to rotate the shield harmonics and remodulate the deflector dish to emit Tachyon Particles...DUH! Jesus dude didn't you take Star Trek 201 in college?

Re:The speed of light is a bit of a problem (1)

sarahbau (692647) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295784)

I love Star Trek, but that part of it always drives me crazy. If someone figures out their shield frequency, they can shoot right through them as if they aren't there. Luckily, changing the shield frequency is all they need to do to block the enemy attacks once again. It doesn't even seem difficult for them to tell the shields to randomly change frequencies, because they often do this when fighting the Borg. So why isn't it just standard for shields to constantly change frequencies? I assume the Enterprise's own weapons are calibrated for their own shield frequency so they can go through it, but it shouldn't be too difficult to have them set to the same frequency variation program.

Borg shields seem to be the opposite. They are completely vulnerable to all phaser frequencies until they've "adapted," which they can do after one shot, or maybe two or three if the frequency is randomized. Either they're picking between 3 random frequencies, or the Borg shields just adapt to the entire range of the phasers. Of course they only keep this adaptation for a short time, because the next encounter, they're vulnerable again.

They also can't beam things to or from the ship when their shields are up, but there are a few times when they are able to calibrate the transporter to beam through enemy shields. If they can do that, can't they calibrate the transporters to work through their own shields?

Re:The speed of light is a bit of a problem (2, Funny)

ultranova (717540) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295856)

They also can't beam things to or from the ship when their shields are up, but there are a few times when they are able to calibrate the transporter to beam through enemy shields. If they can do that, can't they calibrate the transporters to work through their own shields?

No, because the laws of physics in Trek universe aren't stable, but change unpredictably from time to time. The locals have adapted to that and update their thinking without even noticing; those of us outside the continuum perceive changes as discontinuity.

It's amazing how widespread that phenomena is. This universe seems to be the only one with stable and self-consistent enough set of physics that you can apply them to problems logically. Here, if you can bypass enemy shields, you can bypass your own; in Trekverse, that phenomenom only works on enemy shields, and even then inconsistently, and the locals have evolved in such a way as to see nothing strange in that. It is truly a testament to the power of evolution that sentient beings can function - even build an interstellar empire - in such a chaotic mess of a world.

Re:The speed of light is a bit of a problem (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296296)

A lot of it is because episodic television is a crappy format to write for. There aren't that many stories to tell, so to get dozens and dozens of episodes, they are constantly retelling them and get lazy and fall back to poorly used, inconsistent devices (the viewer doesn't know the limitations of the characters knowledge, so it isn't very satisfying to watch them use knowledge to solve problems). And then people like the comfort they get from 'knowing' the characters, so no one ever dies or changes (there is some character development, but not anything resembling real life).

(For me, the format works best when a character is shown dealing with the consequences of a choice that they have made)

Re:The speed of light is a bit of a problem (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295568)

They could time shift the pre-recorded data into of delayed movments into a simulation where you could experience it in real time (i.e. post-real time)

If this is a problem put them in LUNAR orbit (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295734)

If the delay is a problem to this or any other tele-operated mission, put the scientists in orbit around the body to be explored (in this case LUNAR orbit).

I know that it may seem stupid to transport them 230,000 miles just to end up 100 miles away from their goal but consider the expense of getting them down (and back up) from the surface.

1) a landing/ascent vehicle will have to be designed, tested and built. Same thing with lunar spacesuits (primarily dustproof).
2) all this gear will have to be shipped to cis-lunar orbit. Remember life support supplies will also have to landed.
3) to duplicate the functionality of multiple robots in various areas around the moon you'll have to move the whole kit and kaboodle every time you want to explore using landed explorers. Expensive, time-consuming and dangerous.
- This will cost billions! (Remember also the time required to de-orbit, land, set up camp, put on suits etc. etc.)

On the other hand, you could just put them in orbit around the moon to operate the robots. The cost? "Only" about 5x the cost ($20M?) of getting a person into LEO. This is what Space Adventures was quoting for a trip around the moon using a modified soyuz spacecraft. (I don't know if they included insertion into lunar orbit though and it doesn't include the tele-operation equipment).

The only problem is that the scientists will be way up out of the magnetosphere so solar flares could be a deadly event. They could bring a "storm shelter" (a little space in between some water tanks) that they could hide out in during the few hours the flare would be peaking. Or, they could modify their orbit around the Moon (or Mars, asteroid or other celestial body) to put it between them and the sun. Since they get (I think) a few days warning, they should be able to do this without burning too much fuel.

Again, maybe the delay won't be a problem for lunar exploration and maybe it will be. Obviously for other targets it will be. A "classic" story on this problem is Arthur C. Clarke's "Meeting with Medusa". I hope someday Mankind will be facing such problems!

Think AVATAR!

Re:The speed of light is a bit of a problem (1)

SolitaryMan (538416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295968)

I'm also wondering how are they going to emulate 1/6G on Earth.

Re:The speed of light is a bit of a problem (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296282)

A few rounds in very lagged FPS games and will eventually adapt to shoot to something that is not there since 5 seconds ago.

Re:The speed of light is a bit of a problem (1)

dominious (1077089) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296438)

I was thinking about how we may solve this problem and came up with prediction methods:

So imagine you bend to pick up a rock. Instead of waiting for the video to come, you may predict what the video will look like after you bend...Then you may as well do corrections as the video stream comes in.

Ofcourse there are still limitations, but I believe we can always do improvements until some point it will actually be feasible to control humanoids even on Mars. This is great!

Seriously (2, Insightful)

blakedev (1397081) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295084)

What's the fun in that?

Obvious Hoax (5, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295094)

Wow.. the Internet really is an echo chamber isn't it?

This nonsense video has been floating around for months now. There's no confirmation from NASA.. no-one even knows who made it.

If you RTFA you'll see the last paragraph reads:

Whoever did this at NASA should put together an actual budget as soon as possible. And while you are at it, make it possible for regular people to use one, maybe at the Johnson Space Center or some selected museums through the world. That will definitely inspire people.

Send an email to Jesus Diaz, the author of this post, at jesus@gizmodo.com.

Hey Jesus Diaz, were you sick the day of journalism school when they taught chasing up sources? Maybe if you called JSC and heard the exasperated public relations officer explain, again, that no there is no Project M but thanks for your call, you could save yourself some embarrassment.

Re:Obvious Hoax (2, Insightful)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295212)

Hey Jesus Diaz, were you sick the day of journalism school when they taught chasing up sources? Maybe if you called JSC and heard the exasperated public relations officer explain, again, that no there is no Project M but thanks for your call, you could save yourself some embarrassment.

Gizmodo: "jour-nal-ism?..."

It's also possible to blame /. for picking the story. But looking for journalism on Gizmodo or /. is unrealistic. I'm not mocking here, I'm regulating expectations -- expecting even the "established" blogs to look for multiple sources or contact a company for feedback prior to posting a story is setting the bar too high. It's up to the readers to be more discerning and critical, and most aren't.

Re:Obvious Hoax (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295228)

If you're a subscriber to Slashdot you see stories like this hit the front page a half hour or so before they go live. There's a link that says "Any serious problems with this story? Drop our on duty editor a line." and there's an email link with prefilled subjected line etc. I sent basically what I wrote here as an email nearly an hour ago.. they chose to ignore me. I've done this before and they've pulled stories.. so it seems some editors are interested in stopping nonsense and some are not. So yes, I do blame Slashdot for being part of the echo chamber. There's no reason to post shit that is obviously fake.

Re:Obvious Hoax (4, Insightful)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295352)

I tend to hold Slashdot to a higher standard too, which is why I'm here rather than Digg/Reddit (where anything that draws clicks is welcome, and any discussion is, well, you know...). However, occasionally Slashdot will post bait stories (not necessarily "flaimbait", just "plain bait"), especially when it comes to anything regarding MS/Apple/YRO where the main purpose is to let people vent. In such cases, I don't really see it as a mistake, or "wrong", partly because anyone with high karma doesn't see ads, so at most it's "pandering", rather than something used to boost page views. In the case of this particular story, I imagine that the editor thought it would make a good discussion piece in its field, and the source (and even validity) was irrelevant because just the theory/concept will produce an interesting discussion (as users discuss the viability of such an undertaking).

I'd blame Gizmodo, if I visited the site directly, but I don't -- I let other filters point me there if they think there's anything interested posted. As for Slashdot, probably less so in this particular case. If they ignored the comment that you sent, then it changes the "judgment" somewhat, but it may still be arguable that the story was posted just for general interest, and the source/validity wasn't a factor. As you said, it's also (or primarily) up to individual editors, though I'd hope that they at least talk to one another and try to get minimal feedback prior to posting (I've no idea what their actual process is, of course).

Re:Obvious Hoax (2, Informative)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295906)

Slashdot will post bait stories especially when it comes to anything regarding MS/Apple/YRO where the main purpose is to let people vent. In such cases, I don't really see it as a mistake, or "wrong", partly because anyone with high karma doesn't see ads, so at most it's "pandering", rather than something used to boost page views.

Pandering is pandering. The poster with his high Karma perks doesn't pay the bills. He's there to lend an air of respectability to the proceedings.

Re:Obvious Hoax (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296278)

I have excellent karma, so I don't see ads, but I don't RTFA either. I see the stories /. posts more as a topic for a debate than a news item of real value. I came to this story because a discussion about the feasibility and benefits of operating in space via telepresence seemed interesting. So far, it has been. Whether the source for this is a NASA press release, a blogger's hoax, something timothy made up, or a science fiction story is completely irrelevant to me.

This is why I block kdawson stories from the front page. He just posts flamebait that leads to long and boring sequences of trolls. Timothy's stories may be nonsense, but they're nonsense that sparks an interesting discussion.

Re:Obvious Hoax (1)

jandoedel (1149947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296370)

Why do you assume that all high karma people switch of the ads? The ads are what pays for this sites, so why turn them of...?

Re:Obvious Hoax (2, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295588)

"There's no reason to post shit that is obviously fake."

On the contrary, it will attract a lot of comments, some from people who believe it and some from those who don't. Compared to other sites a disproportionately high number of those comments will be from people who actually know what they are talking about and have the evidence to back it up. Those comments demonstrate to readers the true meaning of skepticisim and even those who already practice the art can learn a great deal from them, just as I have learnt something from you today without having RTFA. Of course being a practising skeptic I'm not just taking your word for it, I did do a bit of googling before posting this. :)

Re:Obvious Hoax (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295764)

There's no reason to post shit that is obviously fake.

Because some people seem to thrive on picking apart technical forgeries? Why do they post stories on arbitrary compression algorithm announcements and free energy generators?

Re:Obvious Hoax (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295322)

It is odd, why would they want to sent biped robots to the moon when there are simpler/cheaper alternatives.

Either this video was made by some kid of a NASA employee or they are smoking some good shit down there.

Re:Obvious Hoax (1)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295546)

Given that the best humanoid robots around today fall over while walking up a set of perfectly level stairs, and then can't get back up again without human intervention, I say "Project M" is definitely worth a go. After all, the robot might not fall over for ages if we're lucky.

Re:Obvious Hoax (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295634)

Thanks for the info, I just gave the story a negative mod, hopefully others will too.

When you think about it, it's really hard to see how what they have suggested is all that different than a rover.

Re:Obvious Hoax (1)

sictransitgloriacfa (1739280) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295776)

Ah, pity. This really should be done. Granted the lag would be a problem, but see my post above for several reasons why this is better than sending humans and all their life support.

Re:Obvious Hoax (2, Funny)

ascari (1400977) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296326)

Lunacy if you ask me...

Re:Obvious Hoax (1)

MrShaggy (683273) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296356)

Ever see 'I am William Shatner, and this is how I changed the world'

It was a 2 hour documentary about how Star Trek has influenced Science.''

So something that people bicker about the time line issues go on to make flat-screens.

Even dealing with warp-drive.

Not imitating art... (2, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295114)

Title of TFA:

NASA Project M Puts Scientists' Avatars On the Moon

Call me when they are 3m tall, blue, w/tail.

Re:Not imitating art... (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295226)

Call me when they have any such model that's even remotely usable, on earth. This is fiction, almost as much as the 3m-tall smurfs with the indeterminate amount of digits on each hand.

Re:Not imitating art... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295314)

They had 4 digits on each hand. Jake had 5 due to his partly human genome. See? Not that indeterminate after all.

Re:Not imitating art... (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295388)

I actually didn't notice that.. I thought that the females had 4 digits, since I only noticed that when Jake and Zoe Saldana were on screen together. I thought that was sexist, but if it's the case that the number of digits was due to the Avatar design -- then it's a flawed design. They wanted to blend in, didn't they? This made them instantly recognizable to the natives. What if the natives didn't have any digits on their feet, for example? Would the avatars still have toes?

Human engineers in sci-fi movies make such obvious mistakes.

Re:Not imitating art... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295788)

You must also have missed the part about the Avatars being a BLEND of human and Navi DNA. Perhap, just perhaps, that means they'll also have *some* human characteristics, like, say, 5 digits on each hand.

WRT to the Avatar design being able to blend in, the Avatars were never going to be indistinguishable from the natives, due to the global neural network. If they didn't connect to that, that would have made them stand out. If they did, their totally different thought patterns would have distinguished them, as evidenced by the long time it took Jake to learn to "interface" with animals.

It seems there's quite a bit to the movie that you didn't notice.

There are quite a few plot holes in the movie, but you don't seem to possess the intellectual firepower to be able to find the real ones.

Re:Not imitating art... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295286)

And call me when I can get a realdoll of one.

Re:Not imitating art... (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295402)

On the moon? Would you be the one "steering" the realdoll? I'm not sure what the particular purpose/fantasy is here...

Re:Not imitating art... (2, Funny)

pcolaman (1208838) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295408)

Call me when they are 3m tall, blue, w/tits.

There, fixed it for ya

Send Oprah & Rosie instead (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295128)

The Hell with the scientists!
Send Oprah and Rosie O'Donnell instead.

There has be a whole B Ark we can send off to outer space.

Why something so complex? (2, Interesting)

the_other_one (178565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295164)

Rovers have already been effective on Mars. Use them on the moon first.

Re:Why something so complex? (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295242)

As Spirit has shown, a patch of ground that a person could stride over can lodge a rover in it permanently.

Now, did we have just bad luck with the soft ground, or did we have exceptional luck the rest of the time?

Plus, the moon is slightly less likely to have the dust devils that have been graciously dusting off the panels.

Re:Why something so complex? (1)

the_other_one (178565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295296)

I cannot make any predictions on luck, however, I might suggest some sort of brush or wiper. You could probably borrow some technology from the auto industry. Hopefully they will have built a Canadian Tire on the moon by the time the rover is ready for a blade replacement.

Re:Why something so complex? (2, Interesting)

tftp (111690) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295342)

I cannot make any predictions on luck, however, I might suggest some sort of brush or wiper.

You don't want to run wipers dry - the sand will scratch the glass (the windshield or the solar panel.) Rubber will not work in the range of temperatures that are found on other planets. If the material is soft the dust will embed itself into it; if the material is hard then it won't clean anything. I believe NASA went through this for the rovers, and decided to do nothing because they didn't see any solution that would be simple and effective.

Re:Why something so complex? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295450)

tilt the panels to ~20 degrees and then vibrate them until clean. That way gravity does some of the work, and the rest is done by a motor on the underside of the panel

Re:Why something so complex? (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295504)

tilt the panels to ~20 degrees and then vibrate them until clean.

Even I can see problems with this (though it may work in very specific situations:)

  1. Presumes sufficient gravity. Mars and Moon provide only weak gravity.
  2. Presumes minimal "stickiness" of the dust. In reality the dust is statically charged and adheres to panels.
  3. Requires motors to tilt the panels, moving parts that those motors move, and power for the motors. Eats into science payload.
  4. It is very untrivial to vibrate large, flexible panels. There will be many vibration modes, and some may be destructive to panels. You also can't get the same displacement everywhere, and you will get plenty of bending. Solar panels are very rigid and don't bend well.

A simple experiment in most favorable conditions - on Earth - will demonstrate that a sheet of glass, once it gets dusty, can't be cleaned by any amount of vibration. Try with your window, for example. Dust is very light, but it adheres well. You'd need to try hard to even dislodge grains of sand from that glass.

Re:Why something so complex? (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295578)

You'd need quite a bit of dust to cover an entire surface to the point where it's ineffective, and you don't need to get the surface 100% clean -- even 50% efficiency would probably suffice (no atmosphere on the moon -- solar panels will be more effective than on either earth or mars). Use a piezoelectric surface on the panel (or a mesh of one, or a bunch of spots). Also, you can't replicate these experiments on earth, not easily at least -- most earth dust is organic, which is much finer, and often "stranded". Mineral dust is made up of larger particles (usually), and it almost never appears as a "string" shape, just chunks.

Another idea -- move a statically charged rod over the surface instead of a wiper. It doesn't need to touch the surface, just get close enough to make particles cling. Make the surface area of the rod larger (add fins). Once over the surface, vibrate the rod. Repeat as needed.

Re:Why something so complex? (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295622)

even 50% efficiency would probably suffice

Maybe. That's for the mission designers to calculate.

Use a piezoelectric surface on the panel

The displacement will be very small - micrometers. Maybe it could be enough. But beware of resonances. Still this can be done, if only the method itself proves to be effective.

you can't replicate these experiments on earth, not easily at least -- most earth dust is organic

For a low, low sum of $1,000,000 I volunteer to build a test chamber that is large enough to contain the rover, and it will allow scientists to feed any materials into it as a dust source, even those that they didn't scoop up at the nearest garden :-) In fact, NASA has about a ton of genuine lunar dust, perhaps that's the best use for it.

Another idea -- move a statically charged rod over the surface

An AC replied to my initial comment and proposed static repulsor, and I replied with a link that says that something like that is being worked on. It's better to have no moving parts. Besides, if the electrostatic force was strong enough to dislodge dust some distance from the panel, it probably would be way too strong when the dust is in physical contact with the rod, making it hard to shake it off.

Re:Why something so complex? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295490)

Some sort of electrostatic repulsion?

Re:Why something so complex? (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295530)

Some sort of electrostatic repulsion?

Perhaps - as long as you can guarantee that all the dust on an alien world is charged to the same polarity. In some cases it is possible [nasa.gov] .

Re:Why something so complex? (1)

sictransitgloriacfa (1739280) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295792)

Perhaps a good method would be to blast the dust off the panels with pressurized gas. This assumes it's available, of course; an oxygen factory would be a good thing to build, as a prelude to colonization.

Re:Why something so complex? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295358)

What about legs? They may not be as energy efficient but perhaps the numbers would work out with just a little more panel...

MOON SPIDERS

Re:Why something so complex? (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295468)

Most of the moon's surface is hard, and the gravity is low. You'd design for that terrain (I'm assuming tires?). As for the smoothness of the topology, you can pick a site with far better precision on the moon, so we wouldn't choose to land on a cliff. Another advantage, in this case, is the lack of an atmosphere -- wind won't get sand on the solar panels in the first place, and won't blow the rover on its side.

Specifically about the panels -- program it to flip them over and shake vigorously once a week (and also wash behind its ears...).

Re:Why something so complex? (3, Informative)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295704)

"Plus, the moon is slightly less likely to have the dust devils that have been graciously dusting off the panels."

It's also less likely to have dust suspended in a vacum above the ground, just design the moon rover so it doesn't kick sand in it's own face. Maybe something high tech like mud gaurds over the wheels

Re:Why something so complex? (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295890)

They should send up Boston Dynamics' BigDog.

Seriously. A guy kicked it and it just, like, carried on. 4 legs clearly > 2 legs which is totally > wheels.

Also, I want one. Walking around the park would never be dull again.

Re:Why something so complex? (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296416)

It will be considered as smart as a mule when it turns around and kicks the guy back.

Let's do something even more useful (5, Interesting)

urusan (1755332) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295236)

In addition to sending human-controlled robots to the moon, lets send along refineries and factories to produce solar panels. Then we can build thousands of square kilometers of the stuff on the moon from local materials at a very low cost and beam the energy back to Earth. Covering roughly 1% of the moon's surface area with present-day solar tech would yield on the order of 20TW, worth tens of trillions at today's energy rates and capable of meeting the world's energy needs.

I'm not sure how good this paper is, but it has some more details on the basic idea: http://www.acm.org/ubiquity/views/v7i28_kumar.html [acm.org] Certainly a more detailed study would be needed before really doing this to ensure there weren't any show-stopping problems (such as the one DOE/NASA undertook on the solar satellite idea, where they concluded it was not economically worthwhile with the lifting costs http://www.nss.org/settlement/ssp/library/doe.htm [nss.org] ).

This path would be even better for science too, as it would create a permanent human presence on the moon instead of probably being a one-off mission. There would also be interest in creating a self-sufficient lunar economy so that Earth wouldn't have to keep supplying it. A robotic lunar colony capable of launching solar satellites and other craft would be of great value to both science and the economy.

We can do this with today's technology, as it's essentially a different approach to the old solar satellite idea.

solar cells cost to much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295434)

Solar cells, unsurprisingly, are cheaper to make on earth than on the moon, and there is plenty of desert on Earth. Both the Earth and moon are spherical and the same distance away from the sun. True, the moon does not have an atmosphere, but the atmosphere has only a moderate degredation of solar, at the right place on earth.

Re:solar cells cost to much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295492)

but the moon is not inhabited, nor are there ecology activists (because there is no known life on the moon). You could cover the entire side of the moon not facing earth with panels and no one not involved, or a scientist, would care.

Re:solar cells cost to much (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295502)

I think you're grossly misrepresenting the resources of the earth and the Moon. The lunar regolith is basically made of solar cell materials, whereas here you have to dig them up.. not to mention that there's a little matter of ownership, human labor, etc. That said, there's no mature technology for doing this kind of processing of regolith and, even when there is, it's unlikely to be something that could be tended by robots or weigh so little that it can be sent up on an existing booster.

Re:solar cells cost to much (2, Insightful)

urusan (1755332) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295858)

That said, there's no mature technology for doing this kind of processing of regolith and, even when there is, it's unlikely to be something that could be tended by robots or weigh so little that it can be sent up on an existing booster.

Indeed, this is the main technical challenge for such a project. Is it possible with present-day technology at a reasonable weight or not?

The robot part can definitely be handled because it doesn't require AI, as they can be remotely controlled by human operators and any AI will merely simplify the process.

The weight issue seems more promising than the solar satellite idea, which requires millions of tons of material lifted into orbit to cover our energy needs. While there is still no guarantee that we can develop refineries and factories that can meet the needs of such a project at a reasonable overall cost and weight, it should be noted that the project does not need to be lifted in large indivisible pieces. Unlike manned space flight which needs a heavy lifter booster to carry all the essential equipment up in one go, the factories can be lifted in many small pieces in many smaller flights and assembled on-site by the human-controlled robots. The biggest single piece may be an assembler robot.

Additionally, the returns on the investment could be staggering. Let's say for the sake of discussion that the US carried out the program at a cost of $1 trillion USD (NASA's 2010 budget for 53 years or 7 International Space Stations) and it delivered 5TW of power (covering roughly 0.25%-0.5% of the moon's surface area). At current electricity rates it would generate something like $400 billion USD a month, which would mean it would pay for itself in roughly three months. After three years of operation it would have generated enough revenue to pay off the US public debt (what other trillion dollar program can even consider doing this?). Afterwards there would be a trillion dollar surplus even with taxes reduced to 0%.

Of course realistically it would cause energy prices to plummet, but the overall benefits would be on the same order of magnitude. The above is merely meant to illustrate the enormity of impact a success would have.

Also, the above scenario is probably quite pessimistic, as $1 trillion is pretty insane for a space program (would a moon factory really cost seven times as much as the ISS to develop, build, and launch?) and after the concept was proven it would keep expanding beyond its initial capacity as long as it was economical to do so. Getting an accurate figure will require more in-depth research.

If such extreme returns are reasonably possible, then shouldn't we at least consider the idea very seriously? It's not like we need to start with the part where we lift the equipment to the moon: an in-depth study would iron out the details and if it still looks promising then an Earth-based demonstration of the technology would remove all doubt before we start pouring billions into launches.

Re:solar cells cost to much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296058)

Given ISS is a very small TOY, yes, indeed, a lunar powerplant may very well cost 7 times as much.

Re:solar cells cost to much (1)

pydev (1683904) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296170)

The lunar regolith is basically made of solar cell materials, whereas here you have to dig them up

The lunar regolith is mainly silicon oxide with some iron oxide thrown in; you can find entire deserts filled with the stuff on earth.

not to mention that there's a little matter of ownership

Ownership of sand? You can get that in bulk for really cheap, you know.

, human labor, etc.

And the need for human labor magically disappears on the moon??

Re:Let's do something even more useful (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295488)

In addition to sending human-controlled robots to the moon, lets send along refineries and factories to produce solar panels.

Yeah, right. Back around 1985, I went to a conference where some AI professors were mouthing off about putting self-replicating factories on the Moon within 20 years. I asked "How soon can you do it in Arizona?" They didn't like that.

Re:Let's do something even more useful (2, Insightful)

urusan (1755332) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295648)

In addition to sending human-controlled robots to the moon, lets send along refineries and factories to produce solar panels.

Yeah, right. Back around 1985, I went to a conference where some AI professors were mouthing off about putting self-replicating factories on the Moon within 20 years. I asked "How soon can you do it in Arizona?" They didn't like that.

This idea does not require AI or self-replication. The intelligence could be provided by humans remotely controlling the robots on the moon.

While self-replication would be nice because it would allow the project to grow without bound at a very low cost, it is not needed as long as we can lift enough robots, bases, and other materials that can't be created on-site to the moon. Self-replication might even be realistically achievable with something like a fab lab staffed by remote controlled robots.

I think a trial run in Arizona is a fantastic idea. If we couldn't get it working in a desert on Earth then there would be no point in spending all that money lifting it to the moon.

Re:Let's do something even more useful (1)

sictransitgloriacfa (1739280) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295802)

I think we very likely could do it in Arizona now, if there was an economic reason to do so. In Arizona, there isn't. In space, there is.

Sure - any thoughts who controls that beam? (1)

cheros (223479) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296228)

The next hacker into NASA systems will now have a new shiny toy to play with. I don't know if you know this, but there are SCADA controllers that can be nuked with one SINGLE packet (yes, one), leaving it in an undetermined state, and a reboot or reset won't cure it, it needs reprogramming.

There is no way I would want that aimed at my back garden, thanks.

Re:Let's do something even more useful (1)

ascari (1400977) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296322)

Why stop with scientists? Another really useful thing would be to send all lawyers to the moon.(No proxy.)

Not a bad idea (1)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295264)

It's really not a bad idea at all even with the time lag. But I suspect that it doesn't waste enough money or risk enough lives unnecessarily to appeal to the space cadets who make funding decisions.

Science? (4, Funny)

piemcfly (1232770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295284)

Science?! Screw science! You mean sports!

Become Lunar Boxing Heavy Weight Champion by punching an opponent into orbit!

Epic!

Why's it so tough? (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295302)

"NASA can put humanoids on the Moon in just 1000 days. They would be controlled by scientists on Earth using motion capture suits, giving them the feeling of being on the lunar surface. If they can achieve this for real, the results for science research of our satellite could be amazing."

Why so fast? "Because we can" is not sufficient for budgetary planning.

Why so many? About the only reason I can foresee is construction. A good reason, but needs specified. All of them? Might there not be other worthy projects? Not every surface of interest is lunar.

Motion capture would provide transmission of behaviors. It would not provide 'feeling as if'. That could be done, and likely should, but that costs too.

The results for science research of our satellite (1)

mac1235 (962716) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295320)

Like what? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Send Every Scientist To the Moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295350)

Could we just start out with the Creationist and see how it goes?

In Soviet Russia... (1)

mi (197448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295440)

Two Ukrainians talking:

  • Have you heard? Russians went to the Moon...
  • Oh, dear Lord, we can't be so lucky, all of them?!

25 minutes of moon (2, Insightful)

srussia (884021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295482)

If "being" on the moon means controlling a humanoid avatar by motion-capture suit, and assuming 2 such avatars. Each scientist in the US (around 1.25 million) could get 25 minutes of "moon time" over a period of 30 years.

Re:25 minutes of moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295630)

This!
For (insert favorite deity here) sake NASA, get your collective heads out of your asses and quit wasting the tax payers money on shit like this!
If you want to go back to the moon, use rovers like you did on Mars! They have exceeded their life expectancy by a huge margin and would be a far better investment than what you're planning now.
FWIW, been in the business and done that. Helped put lots of NASA payloads in orbit.

kirov (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295560)

maybe some day i'll be so drunk that i will just pass out instead of comment on stupid shit which i do not even know what it is talking about.

that's the spirit

Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295894)

This totally misses the point.

The reason for setting up sustainable colonies on other celestial bodies is to prevent extinction if something nasty happens down here.

Idea from Stanislaw Lem's "Peace on Earth" (1)

FilatovEV (1520307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296474)

The idea of "proxy" androids to investigate the Moon was introduced in a 1987 Lem's novel "Peace on Earth". If you haven't did it yet, read it, it's totally worthy! Besides "proxy androids", the novel explores issues of an arms race and lobotomy. Yes, exactly :-) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_on_Earth_(novel) [wikipedia.org]
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