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11 Amazing Things NASA's Huge Mars Rover Can Do

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the rover-4.0 dept.

Mars 147

TheNextCorner writes "NASA is getting set to launch its next Mars rover this week. The car-size Curiosity rover is the centerpiece of NASA's $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, slated to blast off Saturday (Nov. 26) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The rover will employ 10 different science instruments to help it answer questions once it touches down on the Red Planet in August 2012."

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Can it convert (5, Funny)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126136)

Can it convert imperial measurements to metric measurements?

It CAN convert!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38126396)

NUMBER 5 ALIIIIIVE!

Re:Can it convert (3, Funny)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126556)

No, it cost a little bit extra.

Late Breaking News from the Council: CONVERT! (5, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126618)

Can it convert imperial measurements to metric measurements?

Dispelling rumors of the threat posed by a nuclear-powered, laser-armed robotic invader, K'Breel, Speaker for the Council of Elders, said:

Already one invader flails haplessly in low orbit, while its successor sits on the pad, its launch delayed for yet another four days.

The denizens of the Evil Blue Planet call them by many names - Newtons, Pounds - but what the blueworlders fail to understand that the only force that can do meaningful work is a unified force. Our strength is their weakness: we are one species, we live on one world, we use one system of measurement. We are one force. A red planet, united, to never be divided!

Current intelligence reports suggests that denizens of the Evil Blue Planet have taken note [slashdot.org] of our effective planetary defense, but seem unaware of the extent to which their activities have made us angry. We are not hurt; we are angry. Very, very angry indeed [slashdot.org] .

Having been reminded that the gelsacs of many metrication consultants were punctured to bring them this information [slashdot.org] , there were no questions from the press corps.

Re:Late Breaking News from the Council: CONVERT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38127288)

I love these and I've seen one or two before. Is there any way I can search for them?

Re:Late Breaking News from the Council: CONVERT! (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38128278)

Let me happily announce that the answer to your question is a definite and resounding YES [lmgtfy.com] .

Re:Can it convert (4, Funny)

ozbird (127571) | more than 2 years ago | (#38128404)

Can it convert imperial measurements to metric measurements?

No, but the crater it will leave in the Martian surface is impressive in any measurement system.

Thats not all! (1, Offtopic)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126150)

Combination hookah and coffee maker, also makes Julienne fries!

Re:Thats not all! (1)

GuJiaXian (455569) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126236)

It broke.

Drift (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38126182)

Can it drift? Otherwise I'm interested.

If there is life, the Dutch will find it... (3, Funny)

TheNextCorner (2152406) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126198)

Re:If there is life, the Dutch will find it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38126568)

Yuck... Heineken: Worst "beer" since (American) Budweiser.

Re:If there is life, the Dutch will find it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38128500)

If there is life, I hope it doesn't include cats. You know what they say.

No terraforming? (3, Insightful)

drobety (2429764) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126206)

It can not terraform? Bah.

Re:No terraforming? (5, Interesting)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126228)

Sure it can... it will just take a few billion years.

One misplaced micro-organism and it could set off evolution on mars that will slowly terraform the planet over the next few billion years.

Re:No terraforming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38126454)

And there I was, thinking you meant it would meander off doing it's own thing. NO Rover, BAD Rover.

BENTON!!!! BENTON!!!!

Re:No terraforming? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126578)

Then JPL would have rename it to "Spot"

Re:No terraforming? (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126658)

Um, no. Unless that micro-organism is already adapted to conditions under which no micro-organisms can grow.

However, one misplaced primordial soup, and we could be saying hello to Grzpltrx on the return journey in a few billion years.

Re:No terraforming? (4, Interesting)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126808)

Bacteria have been found alive on the outside of satellites that have not had contact with earth for months.

If they can survive on the exterior of man made objects in space- it is potentially possible they could survive on Mars.

One of the theories of origin, pan-spermia, is that simplistic organisms (or their precursors) spread to earth via space debris.

Re:No terraforming? (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126850)

Earth was the best place for them to land.

As for those stories of bacteria living on satellites yada yada, just how did we find those bacteria without bringing the satellite back in contact with Earth?

Re:No terraforming? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38127096)

I hadn't heard about the satellites before but bacteria have survived on the moon:

http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/1998/ast01sep98_1/

Re:No terraforming? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38127392)

Did they breed? What did they eat? Did they evolve?

Re:No terraforming? (3, Insightful)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38127362)

I'm not saying it is likely- just possible. Get the right extremophile bacteria on mars and the potential is there.

Even if they are not ideally suited- all they need to do is be able to survive and reproduce. Thriving is not required.

There are species that can survive wild temperatures and dry conditions. Species that can survive all sorts of conditions. Bacterial species are not like animal species- genetic information is easily spread.

If one species can survive the temperature- one species can "feed" on mars-etc, etc, - if they're all there in a rare event they could exchange the right genetic information and survive on mars.

Re:No terraforming? (1)

YouDieAtTheEnd (2471718) | more than 2 years ago | (#38127776)

Something similar to the Geobacter [geobacter.org] genus might be a good candidate, considering they can metabolise a wide range of organic compounds including hydrocarbons like oil and use iron oxide (something Mars has lots of) instead of oxygen. Not sure on the temperature ranges they can survive or their liquid water requirements but that's part of what this mission is about, to find out if there are micro-environments on Mars capable of supporting single celled organisms.

In Communist Russia .... (0)

jpwilliams (2430348) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126210)

CCCP Rover Does You!

Re:On the red planet .... (2)

M8e (1008767) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126542)

Curiosity killed the cat!

Re:On the red planet .... (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38127750)

No, curiosity was merely the bait, ignorance killed him.

#1 (4, Funny)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126252)

It can go to MARS! Well, assuming all the measurements are in metric [wikipedia.org] (although if they aren't, it'll still go to Mars, just a little faster than expected.)

Ok, now that's out of the way

Curiosity's ChemCam instrument can vaporize rocks from up to 30 feet (9 meters) away with a laser. Three spectrographs will analyze the composition of the vaporized bits.

Anyone else find it disturbing that we are putting lasers on robots now? And putting them in space? It's like we're asking for Skynet to develop. Let's hope we just don't see the headline "Curiosity killed the human" next.

Re:#1 (3, Funny)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126296)

Psychotic laser-equipped misanthopic robots don't kill people.

People kill people.

Re:#1 (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126410)

Psychotic laser-equipped misanthopic robots don't kill people.

People kill people.

Why am I getting a bad feeling about this?

First, Grunt-Phobus 'doesn't get out of orbit'. Now, we have rock-vaporizing lasers on another 'Mar's' satellite.

They're both large complicated machines with quite a bit of computer power.

I just don't like the vibe I'm getting from this. Not at all.

Re:#1 (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126540)

Just don't let Wolowitz near this thing. It'll stuck and there will be laset craters everywhere.

Re:#1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38127258)

Psychotic laser-equipped misanthopic robots don't kill people.

People kill people.

And sometimes the robots do too.

Re:#1 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38127422)

and lawyers.

Re:#1 (5, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126364)

We're only putting them on robots because we ran out of sharks. Once we run out of robots, then I suppose we'll start putting them on lawyers.

Re:#1 (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126466)

Seems to be bucking a trend:

Thing || Redeeming aspect(s)
Shark || occasionally does not eat it's own offspring
Robot || can be used to build/construct/manipulate the world to be more suitable for people
Lawyers || N/A

So, shouldn't it be:
Robot -> Shark -> Lawyer
or
Lawyer -> Shark -> Robot

Re:#1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38126992)

So, shouldn't it be:
Robot -> Shark -> Lawyer
or
Lawyer -> Shark -> Robot

Feed Lawyer to Robot Shark.

Re:#1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38129306)

Is that like Rock - Paper - Scissors - Lizard - Spock?

Re:#1 (4, Insightful)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126412)

You are sort of trivializing an important point. Perhaps the most important point, at that. At this stage there is only ONE cool thing that this rover needs to do. And that is land safely on the surface of Mars. No mean feat considering how complex this new landing system is. Retro/landing rockets, hovering, winching down, etc. etc. etc. At this point I don't give a good God damn (take that Pakistani censors!) about the other 11 cool things. They don't mean shit if it can't land. Articles like this just make me feel like we are patting ourselves (humans in general) on the back before it's time. I am an optimistic pessimist, so counting my chickens first makes me nervous.

Re:#1 (1)

Iron Condor (964856) | more than 2 years ago | (#38129322)

Just curious what made you pick this one item. Yes, landing on Mars is hard. Then again, just getting TO Mars is hard. Then again, launching off Earth is hard. There's a whole string of events that all have to work to make this a success, and I'm slightly confused why you'd point to the landing stage as the important (or "critical" or "worrysome") one. From what I can gather, Mars probes have failed at launch, on transit, on approach (that's where Lockheed's screw-up with imperial units comes in) but once you're at the right speed in the atmosphere I'm not aware of any failures with descent/landing. I'm not saying there never were any, I'm certainly no expert, but I can't remember hearing of a Mars probe that made entry into the atmosphere at the expected angle and speed and then failed to make proper landing. Was there ever such a thing?

Re:#1 (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38129820)

Hah! :) I guess I just paraphrased since I was thinking of all that: launching, getting out of orbit (unlike the Mars Grunt), the trip, orbital insertion, Mars atmospheric entry, landing, establishing communication with earth, blah, blah, blah. My head was just at a place that said landing on the planet was really the only thing that is important right now, AND all the things entailed to achieve said landing. As far as the actual landing this time, it is pretty damned involved. I'm not sure if you are aware, but it isn't a passive decent this time. It does start classically with heat shield and parachute, but then it uses rocket motors to descend further and then hover while it lowers the actual rover to the ground on a winch. And then flies off somewhere once the rover has touched down and the cable(s) is released (probably doesn't matter where the airborne vehicle goes as long as it isn't right on top of the rover). Things as mundane as releasing the cable are worrisome, never mind the uber high tech stuff. So that is why I think I would rather wait till it actually lands and can communicate with home before bragging about the other stuff. If it doesn't land then I think it would be better not to do the 'look at all the cool stuff we could have done dance. So yeah, I get your point. I just wrapped it all up in one phrase. But you are right of course.

Re:#1 (2)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126482)

Anyone else find it disturbing that we are putting lasers on robots now? And putting them in space? It's like we're asking for Skynet to develop. Let's hope we just don't see the headline "Curiosity killed the human" next.

Its proof that NASA knows there's life on Mars *AND ITS HOSTILE!!!!!*

I bet its the Decepticons.

Re:#1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38126610)

but spongebob likes shiny things!

Re:#1 (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#38127538)

I was thinking of the rover showing the Martians what an earth tail gate party was. I hope JPL remembered to load the ribs and b-b-q sauce in back of the rover before leaving.

Re:#1 (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38129842)

They didn't tell you that they have sharks piloting the spacecraft.

Re:#1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38126518)

More importantly, we shouldn't be giving Martians sufficiently advanced technology.

It's gonna make first contact look like shoot out at the O-K corral.

Re:#1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38126864)

Anyone else find it disturbing that we are putting lasers on robots now? And putting them in space? It's like we're asking for Skynet to develop. Let's hope we just don't see the headline "Curiosity killed the human" next.

Would you prefer head mounted lasers on genetically modified sharks?

Re:#1 (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38127402)

Anyone else find it disturbing that we are putting lasers on robots now?

Nope. C'mon, it's cool! Robot probes with frickin' lasers beams attached to their heads!

Re:#1 (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 2 years ago | (#38129764)

Is it a robotic shark? Otherwise the laser just won't work.

Finally let the grown-ups play on mars.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38126280)

Finally, at last a true succesor to the Viking missions.
Let real science be done, no more toy robots scouting the surface of mars at 1 cm/s.
Can't wait to see the discoveries this new rover will make.

Re:Finally let the grown-ups play on mars.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38126386)

Well Curiosity's top speed is 2.5 cm/s

Martians? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38126322)

First we send a shoebox sized rover. Then we send one the size of a Power Wheels kids car. Now it's a rover the size of a jeep with a nuclear RTG. What's next, a bus sized rover? When does this start to piss off the resident Martians?

Re:Martians? (4, Funny)

Zephyn (415698) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126378)

First we send a shoebox sized rover. Then we send one the size of a Power Wheels kids car. Now it's a rover the size of a jeep with a nuclear RTG. What's next, a bus sized rover? When does this start to piss off the resident Martians?

When the traffic volume starts having an effect on their morning commute.

#12 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38126336)

Reason #12: continue to waste my tax dollars.

Re:#12 (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38126422)

When the most important thing in your life is money you're a sad excuse for a human being.

Re:#12 (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126494)

When the most important thing in your life is money you're a sad excuse for a human being.

If money isn't important to you I suggest you take all the money you have and send it to the poster you were replying to.

Re:#12 (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38126708)

So money is either "the most important thing" or "not important"?

Re:#12 (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38127838)

Money is only a tool of trade, and only fools worship their tools. I agree with the GP, if money is the most important thing in your life (let alone the only thing in your life), you're a sad excuse for a human being and I pity you.

Just wondering... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38126376)

can it kill a cat? Or at least the cat?

#0 (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126404)

I'll be impressed if it actually manages to land there. Otherwise the things it can do after landing are pointless.

Re:#0 (5, Informative)

anwaya (574190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126566)

The landing strategy is quite spectacular [space.com] , though unfortunately no-one's going to be there to observe it.

Re:#0 (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126584)

It's a shame they couldn't roll one of the other rovers out there to film it :).

Re:#0 (4, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38127114)

It's no different than what they used [youtube.com] to land Spirit and Opportunity, except the rover is going to be placed gently on the surface instead of being dropped from 4 or 5 storeys up with a series of 40G impacts.

Descent stage wasted (1)

value (2182292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38128028)

I think they are wasting the descent stage module. In the video it hovers above the ground with rocket propulsion, at a very low altitude (10 meters?) while the rover itself descends to the surface, then releases the rover and flies away in a random direction like crazy (and presumably crashes) - what a waste after it flew all the way to mars and got so close to an actual landing? Why not just let the descent stage land softly nearby, and use it for something, maybe as a radio relay or as a backup solar panel?

Re:Descent stage wasted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38128326)

The purpose of the stage is to lower the rover, not to land. For it to land, it would have to have legs which would add weight. The purpose of hovering and not landing is you can drop the rover on less-then-perfectly-flat surface.

Why not just let the descent stage land softly nearby, and use it for something, maybe as a radio relay or as a backup solar panel?

Huh? So let me get this straight. You have no idea how one could possibly use a burnt out rocket, but by using it as it was designed to do is considered "waste"?

Re:Descent stage wasted (1)

value (2182292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38128960)

True, the rockets have served their purpose by that point. But any kind of reuse would be better than letting it crash.

From the way it's shown in the video, the amount of fuel it uses to fly away could be enough to allow it to land softly instead.

Re:#0 (1)

tokul (682258) | more than 2 years ago | (#38128126)

The landing strategy is

Lets hope they don't land in Mars spring time [youtube.com]

Re:#0 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38128150)

That seems ridiculously complex. Engineers, pfffft. Looks like they're trying to fulfill some scifi fantasy.

I seriously doubt this will succeed considering how primitive humans are.

Marked here so I can check back when it has failed.

Re:#0 (1)

Spikeles (972972) | more than 2 years ago | (#38129354)

No person will be, but there will be plenty of satellites. [arizona.edu] (if they happen to be in the right place at the right time)

$2.5 Billion?! (4, Funny)

ModernGeek (601932) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126496)

They could have flown the shuttle like two more times for that!

Re:$2.5 Billion?! (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 2 years ago | (#38127726)

And it wouldn't have gotten us 1/10th the science or technical R&D. And it wouldn't have gotten even 1/1000th the way to Mars. And after two weeks of flying in LEO, it would be right back where it started.

TheOnion coverage (1)

savuporo (658486) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126508)

http://www.theonion.com/articles/mars-rover-beginning-to-hate-mars,2072/ [theonion.com]

This will inevitably happen to MSL as well.

Re:TheOnion coverage (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38127578)

The problem is, MSL has a frickin' laser beam attached to it's head as well as nuclear power.

If we ever do go to Mars, we may have to worry about the reception we'll receive...

Marvin says: (1)

Perl-Pusher (555592) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126532)

"Of course you know, this means war!"
A laser armed rover sounds a lot like a high tech tank.

I like how they can't decide between 10 and 11 ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38126722)

even the space.com site states in the page title "10 Amazing Things..." and the actual text then again reads "11 Amazing Things..." :D

Re:I like how they can't decide between 10 and 11 (3, Funny)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38127580)

Well, it's one more amazing thing, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most rovers, you know, will have ten amazing things. You have ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you have ten amazing things on your rover. Where can you go from there? Where?

Crash into the Martian surface... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38126786)

in a burning, screaming wreck?

It needs swarmbots. (5, Interesting)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126798)

It should have a cargo-hold full of Wall-E type devices that can scatter during the day and return home to charge at night.

Give more than one scientist at a time a chance to drive.

(And reduce the risk of total mission failure in case of a Walowitz incident.)

Breaking news (0)

gadget junkie (618542) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126832)

This car can be parked free anywhere on the planet and it's immune from speeding tickets!

Looks Like It Sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38126882)

Just looking at the type of movement it should support seems to indicate that this is just another rover that should get stuck. The wheels don't seem able to climb rocky terrain, nor is it clear that it won't get stuck in sand... sand which could be mixed with something (?). Shouldn't we put more quality into our expensive toys?

The real question, of course (0)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126932)

Is it an Autobot or a Decepticon?

If I had say in the matter. . . (4, Interesting)

kimvette (919543) | more than 2 years ago | (#38127102)

If I had say in the matter, I would include more redundance.

Instead of one of each type of camera on the mast, I would include redundant cameras on each mast.
Instead of one mast, I would require two masts, with separate motors, computers, etc.

I would include both mechanical (or pneumatic if compressors that work in that environment can be made compactly enough) and electrostatic lens cleaning mechanisms.

I would include redundant "legs" and wheels, with the primary set being ejectable in the event of failure.

The cost would go up, but given that when you come down to it this amounts to a $2.5bil RC car, spending a few million more on extreme redundance to guarantee reliability (after it hopefully lands safely) is very cheap insurance - it's not like you can just send out a minimum-wage Geek Squad "technician" to (hopefully) repair it and upsell it on gold-plated HDMI cables and Norton AntiVirus. ;) It'd suck if the one mast failed, or one "leg" failed without a backup unit or mechanism.

Re:If I had say in the matter. . . (3, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38127234)

I'd go with an ATHLETE styled [youtube.com] base, and deploy several probes rather than just one.

Re:If I had say in the matter. . . (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 2 years ago | (#38127346)

After viewing it, I have to agree; I really like that prototype - it is ingenious in its simplicity!

Re:If I had say in the matter. . . (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38127336)

> it's not like you can just send out a minimum-wage Geek Squad "technician" to (hopefully) repair it

I bet you'd get lots of volunteers.

Re:If I had say in the matter. . . (2)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38127646)

The problem, of course, is that you end up adding weight with all that redundancy. The added weight makes it more difficult to land, making it less likely the mission will succeed.

Personally, I'd just build more than one rover. While I can believe that building one cost $2.5 billion, I tend to doubt building a second one would cost another 2.5 billion. And, if everything works as planned, having two rovers wouldn't be a bad thing.

Re:If I had say in the matter. . . (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 2 years ago | (#38129544)

The mission is $2.5bil - and while a good chunk of that is R&D and implementation of the probe itself, the major chunk of it is delivery and also mission control. The cost of building redundance into the probe (and someone asked why not just add more different instruments? The added cost vs. weight for redundance to all instruments is negligible compared to the overall budget, etc. and it would suck if the optical camera dies but everything else lives - because the optical photos are what sell these missions to the taxpayers.

I do like the idea of building a second rover - the bulk of the cost isn't building the RC car. The bulk of the cost is comprised of delivery and personnel.

Re:If I had say in the matter. . . (5, Insightful)

mmustapic (1155729) | more than 2 years ago | (#38127720)

Why do you suppose it doesn't have redundancy or failback mechanisms? For example, it has SIX wheels. The Spirit rover could still work (and did) with only four wheels. Also, the whole rover is a complex laboratory capable of doing many experiments. If one of them fails, it can still do science with the others. Adding a secondary mast, computer, etc, adds weight besides redundancy.

Re:If I had say in the matter. . . (1)

mctk (840035) | more than 2 years ago | (#38127794)

I don't have mod points, but just wanted to say thanks for posting a serious comment. Every comment above is just a cheap joke.

Re:If I had say in the matter. . . (1)

sega_sai (2124128) | more than 2 years ago | (#38128036)

It is probably more effective to have many instruments instead of duplicating each one. Because if you have 10 instruments and 1 doesn't work, you still have 9 left, but if you have 5 pairs of instruments, and only one fails, what's the point of having 4 pairs of identical working instruments ? I think redundancy only make sense when you are talking about instruments which are absolutely crucial for the mission success. Otherwise it is better to just have more different instruments

Re:If I had say in the matter. . . (1)

joggle (594025) | more than 2 years ago | (#38129432)

In short, they can't without significantly adding to the cost. They are at the limit of what can be shielded using current technology (I'm referring to the heat shield). Any shield larger, needed to protect a larger payload, would cook the payload. There's some ideas on how to make larger heat shields, but they haven't been tested (or even built) yet.

I don't even know if there's a rocket large enough to carry such a large vehicle to Mars as the one you're proposing.

Finally, the cost doesn't proportionally go up with extra weight on the vehicle. They go up exponentially. It would probably be cheaper to send two identical vehicles than to send one that weighs twice as much.

12th thing? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38127318)

Can it chase astronauts around the martian service when it accidentally slips into "combat" mode? I'd like to see that on youtube.

Can it actually get to Mars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38127408)

I hope it wasn't built by the Russians or it might end up flailing in Earth's orbit forever.

Re:Can it actually get to Mars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38127570)

Oh the same Russians that beat your ass in '57, and sent the first man in space, the first woman, and sent automated return missions to the moon in '71? Those?

Cheaper solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38127782)

Take samples of the air and land and bring them back to Earth (somehow), where we already have all the tech. to do this analysis, much cheaper and with increased accuracy of results?

Does it have a remote kill switch? (0)

Attila (23211) | more than 2 years ago | (#38128100)

Hopefully NASA has a better contingency plan than they did with their car-sized Venus Probe that ran amok in the '70s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4st0a0gWp0 [youtube.com]

Will it blend? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38128718)

I'm guessing no.

White trash voters want to know. (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38128954)

Does it have a trailer hitch?

Re:White trash voters want to know. (1)

atisss (1661313) | more than 2 years ago | (#38129028)

It doesn't matter, I would by it anyway.

If they are prepared to launch nuclear reactor into the sky it must be safer than stationary reactors.

I bet... (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38129012)

It can totally kick Spirit and Opportunity's ass. I mean its bigger and nuclear powered! No contest!

Re:I bet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38129596)

Maybe it can go and rescue them instead. Give them a good charge on the batteries and a push out of the sand traps.

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