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Mars-Bound Probe Serves As Radiation Guinea Pig

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the for-safe-delivery-of-your-gluteus-maximus dept.

Mars 67

sighted writes "This week's huge solar storm will benefit future astronauts, thanks to the rover Curiosity, now on its way to Mars. The rover is equipped with an instrument that measures the radiation exposure that could affect a human astronaut en route to the Red Planet. Scientists are just starting to pore over the data from the blast of particles. Don't worry about the poor robotic geologist, though: 'No harmful effects to the Mars Science Laboratory have been detected from this solar event,' says NASA."

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67 comments

Damn no one tell (4, Funny)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#38846827)

I hope no on tells PETA that NASA is irradiating a guinea pig with a probe.

Re:Damn no one tell (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38846849)

I hope no on tells PETA that NASA is irradiating a guinea pig with a probe.

No, the probe is a metaphorical Guinea Pig, meaning only sensors in the probe will be exposed. It'll be looking for Quantum.

Re:Damn no one tell (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38846881)

Wouldn't that be "quanta" instead of "quantum"?

More than one kind of radiation in a cme gas cloud... doesn't make sense to measure only one.

Re:Damn no one tell (1, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38846929)

Wouldn't that be "quanta" instead of "quantum"?

More than one kind of radiation in a cme gas cloud... doesn't make sense to measure only one.

You measure Quanta with Koala Bears*, not Guine Pigs.

*Substitutable with Drop-bears, if you can find any.

Re:Damn no one tell (1)

silverspell (1556765) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847393)

You measure Quanta with Koala Bears*, not Guine Pigs.

No, no, no -- you measure Qantas with koala bears. Sheesh, what are they teaching the kids these days...

Re:Damn no one tell (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 2 years ago | (#38848257)

Pedant mode on: koalas are not bears. It's just a koala, not a koala bear.

Re:Damn no one tell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38848579)

Pedant mode on: Guinea pigs are not pigs.
Sarcasm mode on. Therefore they should be called guinea.

Re:Damn no one tell (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849147)

That's different though. "Guinea pig" is the actual name of the animal. "Koala bear" is not - for some reasons some people add the 'bear' when they say it though (you won't find anyone in Australia saying that though ... not sure if it's a purely American thing or more widespread).

Re:Damn no one tell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38849545)

It is more widespread, even the latin name (Phascolarctos cinereus) means something like "grey pouch bear".

Re:Damn no one tell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38849777)

No, no, no... TSA measures radiation on Quantas with guinea pig air travelers. FTFY

Re:Damn no one tell (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#38846883)

No, the probe is a metaphorical Guinea Pig...

Be careful with people understanding five-syllable words...

Re:Damn no one tell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38849203)

No, the probe is a metaphorical Guinea Pig

Obviously you haven't heard of PETA.
They will argue that this promotes animal testing or something similiar, then they will do somehing stupid and people will get hurt.

Re:Damn no one tell (0)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38846953)

But Ann Coulter says radiation is good for you and recommends more. In fact, he looks great for his age.

Re:Damn no one tell (1)

msheekhah (903443) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847069)

Shouldn't radiation be measured in Bug-Bears?

Re:Damn no one tell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38847401)

No, Bug-Bears (Tardigrades [wikipedia.org]) are remarkably resistant to radiation.

"He's been exposed to 2 milliBug-Bears of radiation. -- So he's dead."

Re:Damn no one tell (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847491)

Don't worry they'll just label it a "*Space kitten*" and then make ads calling for its protection and try to get hipster celebs on board.

*._ for those that don't get the joke please look up "PETA Seakittens" for a shocking example of how a group once upon a time was for the ethical treatment of food animals past the batshit exit about 30 miles back...wow.

Re:Damn no one tell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38847725)

I hope no on tells PETA that NASA is irradiating a guinea pig with a probe.

I hoped they planned for a 50' guinea pig arriving on Mars. At least Tokyo will be safe.

GET YOUR ASS TO MARS! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38846941)

Spook BackDoors In Cisco Routers
- Older news, but still relevant!!
    Please save this story and repost it everywhere
    Especially in Security Discussion Forum Sites
- You should use OpenBSD or a hardened Linux distro
    For a router, NOT these blackboxes offered with
    proprietary hardware & firmware!

http://www.forbes.com/2010/02/03/hackers-networking-equipment-technology-security-cisco.html [forbes.com]

"Special Report
Cisco's Backdoor For Hackers
Andy Greenberg, 02.03.10, 01:45 PM EST
The methods networking companies use to let the Feds watch suspects also expose the rest of us.

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Activists have long grumbled about the privacy implications of the legal "backdoors" that networking companies like Cisco build into their equipment--functions that let law enforcement quietly track the Internet activities of criminal suspects. Now an IBM researcher has revealed a more serious problem with those backdoors: They don't have particularly strong locks, and consumers are at risk.

In a presentation at the Black Hat security conference Wednesday, IBM ( IBM - news - people ) Internet Security Systems researcher Tom Cross unveiled research on how easily the "lawful intercept" function in Cisco's ( CSCO - news - people ) IOS operating system can be exploited by cybercriminals or cyberspies to pull data out of the routers belonging to an Internet service provider (ISP) and watch innocent victims' online behavior.

But the result, Cross says, is that any credentialed employee can implement the intercept to watch users, and the ISP has no method of tracking those privacy violations. "An insider who knows the password can use it without an audit trail and send the data to anywhere on the Internet," Cross says.

Cross told Cisco about his findings in December 2008, but with the exception of the patch Cisco released following the revelation of its router bug in 2008, the security flaws he discussed haven't been fixed. In an interview following Cross' talk, Cisco spokeswoman Jennifer Greeson said that the company is "confident in its framework." "We recognize that security is complicated," she said. "We're looking at [Cross'] findings and we'll take them into account."

Cisco isn't actually the primary target of Cross' critique. He points out that all networking companies are legally required to build lawful intercepts into their equipment.

Special Report
Cisco's Backdoor For Hackers
Andy Greenberg, 02.03.10, 01:45 PM EST
The methods networking companies use to let the Feds watch suspects also expose the rest of us.

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Cisco, in fact, is the only networking company that follows the recommendations of the Internet Engineering Task Force standards body and makes its lawful intercept architecture public, exposing it to peer review and security scrutiny. The other companies keep theirs in the dark, and they likely suffer from the same security flaws or worse. "Cisco did the right thing by publishing this," says Cross. "Although I found some weaknesses, at least we know what they are and how to mitigate them."

The exploitation of lawful intercept is more than theoretical. Security and privacy guru Bruce Schneier wrote last month that the Google ( GOOG - news - people ) hackings in China were enabled by Google's procedures for sharing information with U.S. law enforcement officials. And in 2004 and 2005, a group of hackers used intercept vulnerabilities in Ericsson ( ERIC - news - people ) network switches to spy on a wide range of political targets including the cellphone of Greece's prime minister.

All of that, argues IBM's Cross, means that Internet-related companies need to be more transparent about their lawful intercept procedures or risk exposing all of their users. "There are a lot of other technology companies out there that haven't published their architecture, so they can't be audited," he said in his Black Hat talk. "We can't be sure of their security as a result."

- http://search.forbes.com/search/colArchiveSearch?author=andy+and+greenberg&aname=Andy+Greenberg [forbes.com]

(C) forbes.com

Lest we forget Part 1:

https://www.networkworld.com/community/node/57070 [networkworld.com]

"Cisco backdoor still open
IBM researcher at Black Hat says opening for Feds exposes us
By Jim Duffy on Wed, 02/03/10 - 5:33pm.

The "backdoors" that Cisco and other networking companies implement in their routers and switches for lawful intercept are front and center again at this week's Black Hat security conference. A few years ago, they were cause celebre in some VoIP wiretapping arguments and court rulings.

This time, an IBM researcher told Black Hat conference attendees that these openings can still expose information about us to hackers and allow them to "watch" our Internet activity. Backdoors are implemented in routers and switches so law enforcement officials can track the Internet communications and activity of an individual or individuals under surveillance. They are required by law to be incorporated in devices manufactured by networking companies and sold to ISPs.

In this report from Forbes, IBM Internet Security Systems researcher Tom Cross demonstrated how easily the backdoor in Cisco IOS can be exploited by hackers. When they gain access to a Cisco router, they are not blocked after multiple failed access attempts nor is an alert sent to an administrator. Any data collected through the backdoor can be sent to anywhere -- not just merely to an authorized user, Forbes reports.

What's more, an ISP is not able to perform an audit trail on whoever tried to gain access to a router through the backdoor - that nuance was intended to keep ISP employees from detecting the intercept and inadvertently tipping off the individual under surveillance. But according to IBM's Cross, any authorized employee can use it for unauthorized surveillance of users and those privacy violations cannot be tracked by the ISP.

Cisco said it is aware of Cross's assertions and is taking them under consideration. To Cisco's credit, it is the only networking company that makes its lawful intercept architecture public, according to the recommendations of the IETF, the Forbes story states. Other companies do not, which means they may be susceptible to the same security flaws, or worse."

Lest we forget Part 2:

http://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-20040407-username [cisco.com]

"Cisco Security Advisory
A Default Username and Password in WLSE and HSE Devices
Advisory ID: cisco-sa-20040407-username
http://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-20040407-username [cisco.com]
Revision 1.4
For Public Release 2004 April 7 16:00 UTC (GMT)
Contents

        Summary
        Affected Products
        Details
        Vulnerability Scoring Details
        Impact
        Software Versions and Fixes
        Workarounds
        Obtaining Fixed Software
        Exploitation and Public Announcements
        Status of This Notice: Final
        Distribution
        Revision History
        Cisco Security Procedures

Summary

A default username/password pair is present in all releases of the Wireless LAN Solution Engine (WLSE) and Hosting Solution Engine (HSE) software. A user who logs in using this username has complete control of the device. This username cannot be disabled. There is no workaround.

This advisory is available at http://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-20040407-username [cisco.com].

Affected Products

This section provides details on affected products.
Vulnerable Products

These products are vulnerable:

        The affected software releases for WLSE are 2.0, 2.0.2 and 2.5.
        The affected software releases for HSE are 1.7, 1.7.1, 1.7.2 and 1.7.3.

Products Confirmed Not Vulnerable

No other Cisco products are currently known to be affected by these vulnerabilities.

Details

A hardcoded username and password pair is present in all software releases for all models of WLSE and HSE devices.

This vulnerability is documented in the Cisco Bug Toolkit as Bug ID CSCsa11583 ( registered customers only) for the WLSE and CSCsa11584 ( registered customers only) for the HSE.

CiscoWorks WLSE provides centralized management for the Cisco Wireless LAN infrastructure. It unifies the other components in the solution and actively employs them to provide continual "Air/RF" monitoring, network security, and optimization. The CiscoWorks WLSE also assists network managers by automating and simplifying mass configuration deployment, fault monitoring and alerting.

Cisco Hosting Solution Engine is a hardware-based solution to monitor and activate a variety of e-business services in Cisco powered data centers. It provides fault and performance information about the Layer 2-3 hosting infrastructure and Layer 4-7 hosted services.

Vulnerability Scoring Details
Cisco has provided scores for the vulnerabilities in this advisory based on the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS). The CVSS scoring in this Security Advisory is done in accordance with CVSS version 2.0.

CVSS is a standards-based scoring method that conveys vulnerability severity and helps determine urgency and priority of response.

Cisco has provided a base and temporal score. Customers can then compute environmental scores to assist in determining the impact of the vulnerability in individual networks.

Cisco has provided an FAQ to answer additional questions regarding CVSS at
http://www.cisco.com/web/about/security/intelligence/cvss-qandas.html [cisco.com] .

Cisco has also provided a CVSS calculator to help compute the environmental impact for individual networks at
http://intellishield.cisco.com/security/alertmanager/cvss [cisco.com] .

Impact

Any user who logs in using this username has complete control of the device. One can add new users or modify details of the existing users, and change the device's configuration. Here are some more concrete examples of possible actions:

        For WLSE this means that an adversary can hide the presence of a rogue Access Point or change the Radio Frequency plan, potentially causing system-wide outages. The first action may cause long term loss of information confidentiality and integrity. The second action can yield Denial-of-Service (DOS).
        For HSE this may lead up to illegal re-directing of a Web site with the ultimate loss of revenue.
        In both cases the device itself may be used as a launching platform for further attacks. Such attacks could be directed at your organization, or towards a third party.

Software Versions and Fixes

When considering software upgrades, also consult http://www.cisco.com/go/psirt [cisco.com] and any subsequent advisories to determine exposure and a complete upgrade solution.

In all cases, customers should exercise caution to be certain the devices to be upgraded contain sufficient memory and that current hardware and software configurations will continue to be supported properly by the new release. If the information is not clear, contact the Cisco Technical Assistance Center ("TAC") or your contracted maintenance provider for assistance.

For WLSE, users need to install the WLSE-2.x-CSCsa11583-K9.zip patch. The patch can be downloaded from http://www.cisco.com/pcgi-bin/tablebuild.pl/wlan-sol-eng [cisco.com] ( registered customers only) . Installation instructions are included in the accompanying README file, WLSE-2.x-CSCsa11583-K9.readmeV3.txt, in that same download directory. This patch is applicable to WLSE 1105 and 1130 software releases 2.0, 2.0.2 and 2.5.

For HSE, users need to install the HSE-1.7.x-CSCsa11584.zip patch. The patch can be downloaded from http://www.cisco.com/pcgi-bin/tablebuild.pl/1105-host-sol [cisco.com] ( registered customers only) . Installation instructions are included in the accompanying README file, HSE-1.7.x-CSCsa11584.readme.txt, in that same download directory. This patch is applicable to HSE 1105 for versions 1.7, 1.7.1, 1.7.2, and 1.7.3.
Workarounds

There is no workaround.

Obtaining Fixed Software

Cisco has made free software available to address this vulnerability for affected customers. Prior to deploying software, customers should consult their maintenance provider or check the software for feature set compatibility and known issues specific to their environment.

Customers may only install and expect support for the feature sets they have purchased. By installing, downloading, accessing or otherwise using such software upgrades, customers agree to be bound by the terms of Cisco's software license terms found at http://www.cisco.com/public/sw-license-agreement.html [cisco.com], or as otherwise set forth at Cisco.com Downloads at http://www.cisco.com/public/sw-center/sw-usingswc.shtml [cisco.com].

Do not contact either "psirt@cisco.com" or "security-alert@cisco.com" for software upgrades.

Customers with Service Contracts

Customers with contracts should obtain upgraded software through their regular update channels. For most customers, this means that upgrades should be obtained through the Software Center on Cisco's worldwide website at http://www.cisco.com./ [www.cisco.com]
Customers Using Third-Party Support Organizations

Customers whose Cisco products are provided or maintained through prior or existing agreement with third-party support organizations such as Cisco Partners, authorized resellers, or service providers should contact that support organization for guidance and assistance with the appropriate course of action in regards to this advisory.

The effectiveness of any workaround or fix is dependent on specific customer situations such as product mix, network topology, traffic behavior, and organizational mission. Due to the variety of affected products and releases, customers should consult with their service provider or support organization to ensure any applied workaround or fix is the most appropriate for use in the intended network before it is deployed.
Customers Without Service Contracts

Customers who purchase direct from Cisco but who do not hold a Cisco service contract and customers who purchase through third-party vendors but are unsuccessful at obtaining fixed software through their point of sale should get their upgrades by contacting the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC). TAC contacts are as follows.

        +1 800 553 2447 (toll free from within North America)
        +1 408 526 7209 (toll call from anywhere in the world)
        e-mail: tac@cisco.com

Have your product serial number available and give the URL of this notice as evidence of your entitlement to a free upgrade. Free upgrades for non-contract customers must be requested through the TAC.

Refer to http://www.cisco.com/warp/public/687/Directory/DirTAC.shtml [cisco.com] for additional TAC contact information, including special localized telephone numbers and instructions and e-mail addresses for use in various languages.
Exploitation and Public Announcements

The Cisco PSIRT is not aware of any public announcements or malicious use of the vulnerability described in this advisory.

Status of This Notice: Final

THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED ON AN "AS IS" BASIS AND DOES NOT IMPLY ANY KIND OF GUARANTEE OR WARRANTY, INCLUDING THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR USE. YOUR USE OF THE INFORMATION ON THE DOCUMENT OR MATERIALS LINKED FROM THE DOCUMENT IS AT YOUR OWN RISK. CISCO RESERVES THE RIGHT TO CHANGE OR UPDATE THIS DOCUMENT AT ANY TIME.

A stand-alone copy or Paraphrase of the text of this document that omits the distribution URL in the following section is an uncontrolled copy, and may lack important information or contain factual errors.

Distribution

This advisory will be posted on Cisco's worldwide website at http://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-20040407-username [cisco.com].

In addition to worldwide web posting, a text version of this notice is clear-signed with the Cisco PSIRT PGP key and is posted to the following e-mail and Usenet news recipients.

        cust-security-announce@cisco.com
        bugtraq@securityfocus.com
        first-teams@first.org (includes CERT/CC)
        cisco@spot.colorado.edu
        comp.dcom.sys.cisco
        firewalls@lists.gnac.com

Future updates of this advisory, if any, will be placed on Cisco's worldwide website, but may or may not be actively announced on mailing lists or newsgroups. Users concerned about this problem are encouraged to check the above URL for any updates.

Revision History

Revision 1.4

2004-April-12

Fixed URL for Cisco.com Downloads under Obtaining Fixed Software section.

Revision 1.3

2004-April-08

Updated Software Versions and Fixes section.

Revision 1.2

2004-April-08

Updated to include WLSE 1105 in Software Versions and Fixes section.

Revision 1.1

2004-April-07

Correction in the Obtaining Fixed Software section.

Revision 1.0

2004-April-07

Initial public release.

Cisco Security Procedures

Complete information on reporting security vulnerabilities in Cisco products, obtaining assistance with security incidents, and registering to receive security information from Cisco, is available on Cisco's worldwide website at http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/products_security_vulnerability_policy.html [cisco.com]. This includes instructions for press inquiries regarding Cisco security notices. All Cisco security advisories are available at http://www.cisco.com/go/psirt [cisco.com]."

http://www.forbes.com/2010/02/03/hackers-networking-equipment-technology-security-cisco.html?feed=rss_technology_security [forbes.com]

Cisco handholds hackers to backdoor
Routers are vunerable to wiretapping flaw
By Spencer Dalziel
Fri Feb 05 2010, 14:39

AN INSECURITY EXPERT at IBM reported to the Black Hat conference that he discovered Cisco routers are vulnerable to a potential surveillance backdoor.

According to Arstechnica, Tom Cross, security systems researcher at IBM, gave a presentation exposing the backdoor to demonstrate how the 'lawful intercept' function in Cisco's system can be targeted by hackers to gain access to data flowing through the routers.

Hackers aren't blocked after failed attempts to access a Cisco router and notification alerts aren't sent to the administrator. Making matters even worse, ISPs can't detect and track who the culprits might be because their employees aren't allowed to detect and intercept.

It is not entirely Cisco's fault. The 'lawful intercept' function was deployed after a US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruling a few years ago that allowed wiretapping by law enforcement agencies on all networking hardware. All telecommunications vendors had to build monitoring solutions into their hardware.

However this ruling meant all equipment with the lawful intercept functions had gaping holes that left them open to back door surveillance attacks.

Cross told Cisco about the problem in December and it issued a patch. But there are still a lot of vulnerable systems out there because network administrators haven't applied the patch.

Cisco's wiretapping system open to exploit, says researcher
By John Timmer | Published February 4, 2010 6:20 PM

To meet the needs of law enforcement, most telecommunications equipment includes hardware and software that allow for the monitoring of traffic originating with the targets of investigations. The precise capabilities are often dictated by formalized standards, which allow any hardware maker to implement a compliant system. Unfortunately, these standards often leave the hardware wide open to various attacks that leave regular users vulnerable, and provide savvy surveillance targets the opportunity to evade the snooping. An IBM researcher has put Cisco's system under the microscope at a Black Hat Conference, and found it comes up short.

Although the standard was designed to put Cisco hardware in compliance with EU directives, it has apparently been adopted by a number of other hardware makers. The presentation, described in detail by Dark Reading, describes how its reliance on SNMPv3, creates a variety of options for attack. For example, the protocol was initially vulnerable to a brute force attacks on its authentication system; although Cisco has patched that flaw, there's no way to determine how many unpatched machines remain in the wild.

SNMP also defaults to operating over UDP, and it's relatively easy to spoof things like the source address and port for that protocol. It's possible to use TCP instead, and even limit the addresses that can access the hardware, but the protocol doesn't specify either of these. Communications aren't encrypted by default, and the system won't notify administrators when a trace is activated or disabled, meaning that hackers could potentially set up or eliminate surveillance without anyone being aware of it.

The IBM researcher, Tom Cross, notified Cisco of the issues back in December, and recommends revisions to the standard that will ensure that it is more secure by default. That might be helpful, but it still wouldn't deal with the problems posed by unpatched systemsâ"Cross himself apparently recognizes that network administrators can be hesitant to risk the disruption of service that may come with updating major pieces of equipment.

Another invader???? (0)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#38846961)

I'm sure Citizen #64226 would be interested in hearing about the failure to stop the latest invader from the blue planet, but he's busy trying to regrow his gelsacs...

Late-Breaking News from the Council... (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847543)

Fellow Citizens, as we draw close to the Fourth Anniversary [slashdot.org] of the Invasion of the Twins and the ensuing Battle for the Plains, let us not forget the words of K'Breel, Speaker for the Council:

The last remnant of the invading force sickens us with its decadent, passive, lackadaisical attitude. Even as one of its bastard progeny spirals inward to a fiery doom in the toxic atmosphere of the blue world, and its nuclear-powered cousin bakes in the radiation of a solar flare, the last so-called warrior still actually infesting our world sits idle, with an apparent intention to spend the entire winter sunbathing.

If sunbathing is what passes for war amongst these blueworlders, so be it. Rejoice with your podmates! Wriggle your gelsacs in gleeful anticipation! If the enemy wishes to sunbathe, we shall give this newest inbound invader a sunburn it shall not soon forget!

When a junior reporter inquired as to the absence of gleeful wriggling from the general direction of Citizen #64226, K'Breel had only this to say: "...and would that be nuked or fried?"

Re:Another invader???? (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 2 years ago | (#38852333)

I'm sure Citizen #64226 would be interested in hearing about the failure to stop the latest invader from the blue planet, but he's busy trying to regrow his gelsacs...

I am not a number, I am a free man. - #6

D.O.A. (5, Interesting)

ebonum (830686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847055)

This problem could make a manned trip to Mars impossible. The radiation in open space from one solar flare would fry a bunch of astronauts. Sending people to Mars becomes a gamble on the odds of a solar event occurring. Worse yet. There is no technology within reach that can protect astronauts from this type of radiation. A few feet of lead shielding might help some, but the weight would be too much to get into space. Plus, try slowing down all that mass when you arrive at Mars. Perhaps a nuclear powered wire loop ( super conducting??? ) with a circumference of a mile or two? Something with enough kick to deflect super high speed charged particles a few meters - enough to keep them away from the crew?...
I don't see any way to get people to mars with an acceptably high probability of survival.

Re:D.O.A. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38847375)

Rather then a physical shield, a strong magnetic shield (much like how the earth shields us) might be a possible method to shield astronauts. A nuclear reactor could power a shield as well as possibly some from of nuclear propulsion in the far off future. Though by that time, material science may have caught up to solve this problem.

Really, I wouldn't call it impossible, just very far off should radiation become a problem.

Re:D.O.A. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850937)

Just reverse the polarity of the shield harmonics and rotate the frequencies, for fuck's sake.

Re:D.O.A. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38847399)

Mining/manufacturing the massive shielding on Luna would make it rather cheaper to launch into interplanetary space, not to mention the water from Luna's poles... And you don't necessarily have to land the radiation shielding (though you might want to, given Mars' lack of a magnetosphere), you could park it in orbit and pick it up for the trip back. Fine ladies and gents have been using parasols to shield themselves on a sunny day for a long time...

Magnetic shielding sounds like it would take too much power and the technology is rather more breakable than the KISS approach of "moving the lee of the stone".

Re:D.O.A. (3, Insightful)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847671)

Agreed. Someday, people will simply wake up to the fact that we evolved to be here, and anything outside of our thin biospheric shell is simply not "a really good idea". There's nothing wrong with being trapped on earth *if you take care of the place*.

We're not going to Mars. Period. Get over it. At the rate we're going we'll be lucky to feed ourselves by 2025...

Earth AND Mars are both death-traps (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38849339)

Earth AND Mars are both death-traps.

This isn't about our individual survival.
It is about having our species survive beyond the Sun's lifespan AND beyond a localized event in this part of the galaxy.

Humans need to spread out across the galaxy or we will be killed off. Period.

Re:D.O.A. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850017)

You mean like how it was not a good idea for life to come out of the water onto dry land because it was evolved to be in the water ?
The next step may be more difficult but that doesn't necessarily make it a bad idea.

Just like living on dry land had obvious benefits, otherwise it would not have happened, there could be benefits in moving of this planet. There could be very large benefits even. Just don't expect them to materialize tomorrow though.

Re:D.O.A. (1)

Chelloveck (14643) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850081)

Wow. First you say there's nothing wrong with being trapped on earth, then you suggest we're going to run out of food in a decade. You don't think that's a good enough reason to find more space to live?

Personally, I don't agree that we're anywhere near that close to running out of food. Or living space, for that matter. But world population is doubling about every fifty years, and at some point we're going to be in trouble. Or by "if you take care of the place" did you mean that we should adhere to a strict zero-population-growth regime and abandon medical research that can extend our lifespans?

Then there's climate change (the earth is warming, regardless of whether or not the change is anthropogenic), killer asteroids, and a multitude of different natural and man-made disasters that could knock us back a few thousand years technologically (if they didn't wipe us out entirely).

We're all eggs, and at the moment we only have one basket. If the human race is to have any hope of surviving we have to get off this rock and spread out.

Re:D.O.A. (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 2 years ago | (#38851403)

You missed this part:

There's nothing wrong with being trapped on earth *if you take care of the place*.

take care of the place. Reduce your numbers. grow the fuck up and deal with the limitations the earth requires. It's not your planet. You just live here.

Re:D.O.A. (4, Informative)

celticryan (887773) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847859)

You are not quite right. For this sort of radiation, lead is not so great. You want shielding that contains lots of low-Z nuclei. The more hydrogen the better. This is because you get a lot of secondary nuclear fragments and hydrogen minimizes these sort of interactions. For Mars, it actually isn't the solar storms that are worrying - it is the fairly constant galactic cosmic ray background that is more difficult to shield against. It is has a high energy tail that is quit penetrating.

Solar storms are important, but a small storm shelter inside the craft can, in principal, handle this. Storms are typically short, so confining the crew to this area is typically reasonable.

Re:D.O.A. (1)

ebonum (830686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38848719)

If lots of hydrogen works well, specifically what material are you referring to? For instance, is water good? Methane?
How much would it take to stop something such as 5 MeV protons?

Please detail what you mean by "small storm shelter".

About the Magnetic field. You should be able to deflect high energy charged particles as long as you have a strong enough magnetic field. Small and powerful or larger and weaker would work. If the ship has any computers, a powerful magnetic field might cause problems. I have played with ion trap mass spectrometers. For a big trap ( maybe 10cm in diameter ), the magnet to generate 2 or 3 T (tesla) is scary big and powerful. It _will_ eat your cell phone.

Re:D.O.A. (1)

celticryan (887773) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850391)

I truly mean anything with a lot of hydrogen. It attenuates the high-charge, high-energy radiation better (less secondary particle production). Water is good, liquid hydrogen is very good, polyethylene is also something that is often studied. I am ONLY talking about materials for radiation shielding here. Realistically, single function materials are not good for design engineers for space. The problem is actually things you want to build structures out of (space certified materials) don't tend to be high in hydrogen.

A small storm shelter can mean many things. One idea would be to have a region of the living compartment (say where ever sleeping quarters are) and have the sleeping quarters walls be always (or simply be able) to be filled with the drinking water from the long duration mission. In the case of emergency, the crew goes there. There have been studies using thick poly blankets where the crew needs to climb in bed during the storm. There was even a small study done of putting the crew's cabin surrounded by the hydrogen fuel tanks (done by Nealy et al. if memory serves). Fun to think about.

For the magnetic shielding, all that matters is the B-field strength. You need something strong enough to constantly deflect approximately 1 GeV protons and below. Don't forget that most realistic magnetic shielding schemes rely on a dipole. Just like on Earth, the "poles" of the dipole are the most susceptible will have to have some other sort of shielding since galactic cosmic rays are basically isotropic in the solar system. You are spot on when you say there are practical engineering issues with large B-fields.

Re: Food Lockers (2)

DanielRavenNest (107550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850653)

When we studied manned Mars missions at Boeing, and ate samples of the long term food, we placed the "storm shelter" in the middle of the food storage lockers. Food contains water and carbohydrates which contain hydrogen, which is good shielding. If you have a once-through food system, the waste goes back in the same lockers, and maintains the shielding. If you have a regenerative life support, with a greenhouse, the storm shelter goes in the middle of the growing area/water tanks/food storage. Even with a greenhouse there will be some stored food.

For sustainable development, you want to hijack materials from an asteroid between Earth and Mars, and install a habitat surrounded by rock shielding. Placed in a transfer orbit between the two planets, you ride it most of the way, only exposing the crew at the ends of the trip. The habitat spends most of it's time growing food and extracting materials and fuel, which get forwarded to other locations by electric tugs. A sustainable supply chain is necessary if you ever want much more than a "flags and footprints" mission.

Re:D.O.A. (2)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 2 years ago | (#38848003)

The radiation in open space from one solar flare would fry a bunch of astronauts.

Unless the solar flare actually directly hits the spacecraft this isn't a big worry. In fact, to some extent under the right circumstances things are safe during a solar flare since there will be less exposure to cosmic rays due to the Forbush effect- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forbush_decrease [wikipedia.org]. And magnetic shielding can easily handle any indirect solar flare, while direct hits are extremely rare (the ISS for example has been in space for about a decade and has never gotten a serious direct hit). In general, the risk of solar flares is wildly overestimated.

Re:D.O.A. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38848955)

(the ISS for example has been in space for about a decade and has never gotten a serious direct hit).

The ISS doesn't need shielding because the earth is shielding it. The ISS is in low earth orbit - that's 200 miles up. Solar flares *sometimes* penetrate the earth's magnetosphere and hit geostationary satellites. Those are 22,000 miles up. Nothing gets down to 200 miles so ISS is safe. Interplanetary space is not.

Re:D.O.A. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38851159)

The ISS can almost touch aurorae, which happen below it. Solar flares disrupt equipment on the surface. Despite your claims to the contrary, they do reach very low altitudes.

Re:D.O.A. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38848255)

Why cant we have some sort of "space taxi" which would permanently orbit between Mars and Earth, have the shielding necessary, and we would catch a ride on it via some shuttle rocket? How about re-routing an asteroid?

Re:D.O.A. (1)

EETech1 (1179269) | more than 2 years ago | (#38848589)

Is the ISS close enough to the earth to be protected somewhat by Earth's magnetic field? How do they get away with it?

Cheers!

Re:D.O.A. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38848943)

Is the ISS close enough to the earth to be protected somewhat by Earth's magnetic field? How do they get away with it?

Yes. The ISS is only 200 miles up. The earth's magnetic field extends for thousands of miles. Solar storms like this one *sometimes* penetrate through and hit geostationary satellites. Those are 22,000 miles up.

Re:D.O.A. (1)

zmooc (33175) | more than 2 years ago | (#38848883)

It would not make it impossible. It merely would make it about as risky as attempting to cross an ocean in the 1600s. A risk that was acceptable back then and should be acceptable to any people that actually want to get somewhere today.

Re:D.O.A. (1)

evil mr. paws (877672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849663)

Ages ago, a potential solution for this was proposed: use an Earth and Mars grazing/crossing asteroid (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Mars-crossing_minor_planets/ [wikipedia.org] for a list). Since there are several asteroids which have been shown to be rubble piles, it should be possible to find similar candidates from the above list; these could be (relatively easily) burrowed into and the radiation problem would then be solved, at least for the asteroid-hitchhiking portion of the trip. An ambitious program could even imagine creating a cavern with enough room to have a small rotating spacecraft in there, alleviating the micro-gravity issue as well.

Re:D.O.A. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850177)

There is no technology within reach that can protect astronauts from this type of radiation.

My undertanding is a large water supply is required to support both an extended round trip as well as time on the ground. This large amount of water becomes a very viable shield.

On the surface (3, Interesting)

imemyself (757318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847229)

It would be interesting as well to know how much of an impact this would have to people on the Martian surface. Mars's magnetic field is pretty weak compared to ours. I guess they would be a little better protected just by the planet surface itself.

Even on the Apollo missions to the moon, they recognized that a solar storm could be a significant threat to the astronauts. Given the infrequence they decided to just take their chances. But the time they spent outside of the LEO was pretty low compared to what a Mars mission would entail.

Re:On the surface (4, Interesting)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847595)

You are correct. We are protected on Earth by the planets magnetic fields and atmosphere. The amount of radiation every bio-organism on the planet is subjected too has played an important role in evolution on the planet. Too much radiation or smaller amounts of radiation could have nudged evolution to the extent where humans may never have evolved in it's current form. One thing that I have wandered about is why people think that human evolution has stopped. If there are humans still alive in a couple of million years would the species have the same physical traits that exist today? The environmental conditions the human species originally evolved from is constantly being changed by both natural and man made activity. On the moon we could lessen our exposure to radiation by building underground but for Mars we would need a way to protect people during the voyage before we could start building underground habitats on that planet. I believe someone will eventually make a break through in understanding how to nullify and manipulate radiation levels when necessary. So far we have just tapped the most obvious uses of the electromagnetic spectrum we use in our communication devices and computers but there is still a great deal we do not understand. Even our knowledge of nuclear processes is weak when it comes to practical applications. We can produce fission for bombs and power plants but we cannot harness fusion based processes in the real world. Does anyone else think that the guys who built and deployed the first nuclear bomb were 100% confident that the nuclear reaction would not start a chain reaction in the atmosphere? Doing the math is one thing but actually detonating a nuclear weapon was something altogether different and risky.

Re:On the surface (3, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847861)

We've evolved tools to protect those incapable of protecting themselves, and we strive for the norm. We are going to fight evolution, not embrace it. Evolution is thousands of tiny mutations, accumulating an advantage. But any further mutations will be stopped..

Does anyone else think that the guys who built and deployed the first nuclear bomb were 100% confident that the nuclear reaction would not start a chain reaction in the atmosphere?

They weren't 100% sure. And the people making the first trains worried that traveling 35 mph or faster would prevent you from breathing. New things always trigger "OMG, what if" and nearly none of them have ever come true.

Sky Crane (3, Interesting)

lazarus (2879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847311)

If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend watching the Curiosity Launch Video [youtube.com]. I don't think the rover has to worry about radiation so much as the landing. I'd like to start a pool on which part of the untested landing sequence will fail and deliver a smoking hole in Mars instead of the rover.

I seriously hope it works - if it does it will be one of humanity's most amazing technological feats. But I fear the worst.

Re:Sky Crane (1)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847421)

I agree it seems overly complex and therefore bound to fail.

Re:Sky Crane (2)

FrootLoops (1817694) | more than 2 years ago | (#38848419)

Quick, call NASA! Screw the rocket scientists and engineers who designed the thing and whose work almost certainly includes detailed failure rate estimates which ended up being acceptably low for the project to proceed. We may as well press the self-destruct button now and get it over with.

This is the part of /. I hate the most--nerds blessing the world with their special insight, because they really do have insight in their chosen field, and that translates to every other field, right?

Re:Sky Crane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38848539)

I believe that no one should form opinions or if they do they should have the common decency to keep those opinions to themselves!

Re:Sky Crane (1)

FrootLoops (1817694) | more than 2 years ago | (#38848951)

Agreed! I myself don't form opinions. I merely discover facts which should be obvious to anyone once I point them out. The constant disagreements I get into are strong evidence for the fact that everyone is stupider than I am, though of course I don't need evidence for that particular conclusion!

Re:Sky Crane (1)

Maow (620678) | more than 2 years ago | (#38849129)

I agree it seems overly complex and therefore bound to fail.

Quick, call NASA! Screw the rocket scientists and engineers who designed the thing and whose work almost certainly includes detailed failure rate estimates which ended up being acceptably low for the project to proceed. We may as well press the self-destruct button now and get it over with.

This is the part of /. I hate the most--nerds blessing the world with their special insight, because they really do have insight in their chosen field, and that translates to every other field, right?

I disagree with GP, though they might be trying to express sarcasm at GGP, but from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exploration_of_Mars [wikipedia.org]:

The exploration of Mars has come at a considerable financial cost with roughly two-thirds of all spacecraft destined for Mars failing before completing their missions, with some failing before they even begin.

At least GGP made no indication he thought that NASA was somehow wrong or dumb, but ya gotta admit, that linked-to video's landing sequence is rather Rube-Golbergian.

Regardless, I'll be cheering for a NASA success!

Re:Sky Crane (2)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847605)

So when it wound up with a parachute I thought, "Ahh, Lazarus was exaggerating, this ain't so bad."

Then it deployed a rocket lander and I thought, "Oh, maybe he's right."

Then it popped the rover out on a Mars yo-yo, and I said, "Oh, come on!"

Then it gently releases the rover and goes shooting off over the horizon and I just started chuckling.

If this thing works, NASA rules.

Re:Sky Crane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38847813)

It is somewhat of a necessary evil - Curiosity is almost the size of a small car. There isn't enough atmosphere for parachutes to provide a soft landing, and it is too big for an airbag-cushioned landing like Spirit and Opportunity. It needs a soft level touchdown and needs to land wheels down. The rover can't be encumbered with the weight of the rocket landing stage, so it has to be jettisoned.

In theory the rover could be landed on top of the rocket landing stage and rolled off, but if the stage lands badly and the ramps can't be properly deployed, or there is a big honking rock at the end of the ramp, you're SOL. The skycrane concept is less sensitive to vagaries in terrain - so long as you get the rover down wheels first, even if at some cockeyed angle, chances are it can be maneuvered away.

More complex than the systems for smaller rovers, yes. Simplest system that could do the job, maybe.
 

Re:Sky Crane (1)

petsounds (593538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847939)

The more pressing question is, where does that sky crane fly off to? Perhaps a secret mission to bomb the Martians' base?

Re:Sky Crane( eventual destination) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38849577)

to a galaxy far, far away?

Any long term trip in space (3, Insightful)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#38847407)

Needs a lot of water, if you were to locate the water in between hull layers it acts as quite a nice radiation shield.

And perhaps, though I'm not certain and currently feeling lazy, a micro meteorite shield as well.

How to fulfill the prophecy? To commit suicide? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38847501)

We've an important question: "how to accomplish the fullfilment of the prophecy when the man/woman abandons the Earth?".

  1. 1. The "evil mission" rejects the "prophecy", it's violating the testaments written by ancient prophets many centuries ago.
  2. 2. Or the "prophecy" rejects the "evil mission" (with its impredictable mortal consequences).

Why to put we in risk our lives when few individuals wanted evilnessly to success their own "evil mission" for their own private interests?.

JCPM: Oh! God mine! I'm here because i was assigned no another place than here, on this planet named "La Tierra".

Pore? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38847971)

"pore"?

Do the nerd moderators know even less of their mother tongue than do their spell checkers?

-1 for Phobos Grunt (1)

Adustust (1650351) | more than 2 years ago | (#38867197)

Funny how NASA's probe can withstand a noteworthy coronal mass ejection, while the Phobos Grunt is apparently downed by radar.
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