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Next Mars Mission Selected For Funding

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the on-deck dept.

Mars 61

First time accepted submitter Dr Bip writes "Flush with the good news coming from Mars, NASA has announced that JPL has won funding for the next mission to Mars. It seems that the lander will be carrying a self-driving mole developed by the German space agency (DLR). Commiserations to the two other projects that were also in the selection finale (TiME and CHopper). Note the DLR mole's last attempt to get to Mars was with the Beagle 2 lander, fingers crossed for this second attempt."

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It's about time! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060345)

the lander will be carrying a self-driving mole

Finally, we get to share excellent Mexican cuisine [wikipedia.org] with the Martians!

developed by the German space agency

But why couldn't it have been prepared authentically by the Mexicans?

Moles that drive (2)

drcheap (1897540) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060451)

Monty, is that you? [wikia.com]

Re:Moles that drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41065645)

My thoughts immediately went to this one [wikipedia.org] .

NASA rejected the other riskier bets... (2)

xynopsis (224788) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060475)

...but insanely exciting missions: a robotic boat that would have floated on a methane lake on Saturn’s moon Titan and a comet explorer. I would prefer the robotic boat. You never know what lurks beneath those lakes (TMAs?). This is unfortunate though. Seems NASA has mastered the technical hurdles of Mars but rested on its laurels instead, sticking to tried and true approaches.

Re:NASA rejected the other riskier bets... (2)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060573)

I think it's safe to assume every mission to Mars is pretty complicated and risky. And while I agree that the boat idea for Titan sounds really interesting, I'm sure there's plenty of useful work for the mission that was approved.

Re:NASA rejected the other riskier bets... (1)

ModernGeek (601932) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068137)

After Columbia broke apart in 2003, the vision for space exploration laid out a plan for Mars. Two of the precursors before a manned landing was a large rover, which ended up being Curiosity, and the next mission being a drill mission, this one. Each step relies on the last, and so far we are right on track.

Titan is great, and will still be there in 20 years, but we can't do everything at once. Space Exploration doesn't move at the same speed as things such as memory density. We are pushing our boundaries, but doing so with calculated caution and responsibility. We don't want to do things before we're ready, otherwise we're just burning up money.

Re:NASA rejected the other riskier bets... (1)

mark_elf (2009518) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060611)

Agreed! Titan deserves another mission, Cassini-Huygens has been amazing. On the other hand, they have to follow the money or cease to exist. Mars is big right now so it was probably a marketing decision. The fact is, we should be doing all three missions.

Re:NASA rejected the other riskier bets... (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060897)

What we need to do is, start engineering up the tech to go to Titan to take a look in person. Yeah, it's a couple decades down the road, but no reason why we can't start drawing on the cocktail napkins now to figure out what we might need...

Re:NASA rejected the other riskier bets... (4, Insightful)

mark_elf (2009518) | more than 2 years ago | (#41061043)

Personally I'm less certain that people need to go to these places. Kind of a stunt, right? Because we have such great imaging and 'bots now.

My friend works at JPL, he told me Carl Sagan once gave a talk to the staff there and basically said as much... No we don't need to send people there, but enthusiasm over manned space flight is what pays for all these robotic science missions.

Either way, we need better propulsion systems. If we're sending people, we need better toilets.

Re:NASA rejected the other riskier bets... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41061465)

Personally I'm less certain that people need to go to these places. Kind of a stunt, right? Because we have such great imaging and 'bots now.

The time delay ensures that humans can do in days what robots require months or years to do. One day when the bots have human-level AI it will no longer be a problem, but until then humans will do a better job faster.

Of course at NASA prices, they'll also cost hundreds of times as much so you can get more done for a fixed amount of money with bots. If SpaceX ever deliver on their intention of cutting ticket prices to $500,000 to Mars, then humans would make sense.

Re:NASA rejected the other riskier bets... (1)

Nethead (1563) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068341)

And for those that missed the toilet humor check out Packing For Mars [amazon.com] by Mary Roach. A very excellent book on the nitty gritty of space travel.

Re:NASA rejected the other riskier bets... (1)

BenJury (977929) | more than 2 years ago | (#41061369)

Seems NASA has mastered the technical hurdles of Mars but rested on its laurels instead, sticking to tried and true approaches.

Think you might be underestimating the task somewhat! I'd still say shooting something that size from this plannet and getting it to the ground safley is a big ask!

Re:NASA rejected the other riskier bets... (1)

joe_frisch (1366229) | more than 2 years ago | (#41062045)

Completely agree, Titan is extremely interesting. The problem is that government funding systems have a way of rejecting higher risk projects, even if they are higher payoff.

Re:NASA rejected the other riskier bets... (4, Funny)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#41062239)

...but insanely exciting missions: a robotic boat that would have floated on a methane lake on Saturnâ(TM)s moon Titan

A Titanic boat? They should name it "The Unsinkable" and fund it by selling the movie rights to Hollywood.

Re:NASA rejected the other riskier bets... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41062247)

OMG. Wrong in many ways. Decelerating via heat shield, then a super sonic parachute, then the sky crane?
Resting on laurels? They get 0.5% of the GDP, almost nothing and they did this and more.

Titan is much farther away, the delay between order and response is huge. Dependence on a form of AI, that does not exist, materials to handle the temp and pressures that could handle the liquid methane have to be developed. Much more expensive a project and WAY to far into science fiction.

Re:NASA rejected the other riskier bets... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41069963)

I feel sorry for you, for having such a small mind. You're not from the 1800s... or the ridiculously backwards bible belt... are you?

The whole point of NASA is to develop things previously barely possible, to go where nobody has gone before.

And if you watch Berkeley's Audi TT going at 130 mph... plus there being fully-autopiloted boats and planes on the oceans and in the air right now, with the captain just being there for security and insurance reasons... Then you must be living behind the moon if you think it's not possible to have a nearly autonomous robot on a Titan lake. And how did you come up with us not being able to handle those pressures still is a riddle to me. We have things handling far higher pressures right now, and we already had probes work in Titan's atmosphere.

It's really only your ultra-conservative small-mindedness that can make it look like it's "WAY to far" into science fiction.

Re:NASA rejected the other riskier bets... (4, Interesting)

petsounds (593538) | more than 2 years ago | (#41063581)

I too am very disappointed in NASA's decision to send yet another mission to Mars with our tax dollars. And not even a rover, but a stationary lander that has no applicable benefit to a future manned mission. I'm sure planetary geologists are excited and detecting Mars-quakes is kinda cool, but ultimately InSight checks very few boxes.

By contrast, TiME (Titan Mare Explorer), the Titan mission to land on a methane sea, checks many boxes:
* Only the second mission to this highly-fascinating moon we know very little about
* Would be the first human craft to land on the ocean of another world
* Taking pictures of said ocean... enough said
* Determine the chemistry and other properties of Titan's oceans. Study the meteorology of the local atmosphere. We know very little about this.
* TiME was set to test a new, more efficient type of RTG (radioisotope thermoelectric generator), as solar panels are not feasible on Titan. Testing new tech is IMO a high priority for the low-budget Discovery missions.
* Due to its use of a RTG, TiME should have enough power to continue operating for at least 14 years. A very cost-effective investment of public funds.
* All of the above add up to huge emotional interest by the public, which is vital for any NASA mission given the funding situation.

Comparing these two missions, I find it baffling that NASA administrators chose the Mars mission. I find it hard to believe there was political or internal bias towards InSight. It's almost like NASA has forgotten there are other worlds (and IMO more interesting ones) to explore in the solar system. With the dry-up of NASA funds, I feel it is very inappropriate of them to put all their planetary chips on Mars. They've missed an important chance for exploration here. And I can't imagine any Joe or Jane Taxpayer being excited about InSight.

P.S. -- TiME could not actually be considered a boat. It has no propulsion device; instead, it is designed to float around a Titan sea. Any motion through the sea would be due to ocean waves or Titan winds.

Re:NASA rejected the other riskier bets... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41065621)

Agreed, quite aside from the science TiME is so fscking cool (don't mind me, just exploring the ocean of an alien world) and I believe could attract significant public support if only they knew about it. It's certainly a difficult mission but Huygens proved they could pull it off. EJSM/Laplace [wikipedia.org] would be pretty exciting too if it included the proposed Russian Europa Lander.

I guess they want to build on what they've done already, but unless Curiosity finds credible evidence of possible past life / complex organic compounds Mars just isn't all that interesting except as a colony site in the fairly distant future.

Re:NASA rejected the other riskier bets... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41066765)

This mission is just a crumb to try to fool the public into thinking that planetary science is not dead at NASA and to disguise the fact that the money has been diverted to manned space pork (Space Launch System--the Rocket to Nowhere). We have the Houston lobby to thanks for destroying planetary science.

TiME would be very exciting and would capture the public's imagination, but I wonder if it is too hard to do technically? Just the warmth of the instruments would boil away the liquids...tricky but exciting.

I think that an exact clone of MSL (Curiosity) could done for a fraction of the original cost (which was 1.7b), maybe 3-400 million and send to some of the other promising sites on Mars such as Mawrth Vallis.

Re:NASA rejected the other riskier bets... (2)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068205)

This, a million times this. I am very disappointed TiME was not selected. Hopefully there will be a 'next time' for Titan.

BTW TiME would have had a 'mast' with sensors, that in effect would have acted to some degree as a sail. NASA had gone so far as to model the winds over Titan's seas, primarily to see if the vessel could reasonably function there, but the possibility of using the mast to get some wind propulsion surely was being considered. So, a boat, yes.

Re:NASA rejected the other riskier bets... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068101)

Seems NASA has mastered the technical hurdles of Mars but rested on its laurels instead, sticking to tried and true approaches.

Where do you get your "information" from? Your crack dealer?

Tried and true?? The two small rovers landed in air bags, that had never been done before. How did you miss the "seven seconds of terror" when Curiosity landed? That thing came down attached to a rocket-propelled sky crane that had never been done before and was impossible to test, because Mars' gravity is lower and it has little atmosphere.

Nothing about the Mars missions were "tried and true".

Americans (0)

Bigby (659157) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060479)

Are they going to leave it up to the 'mericans (with a strong accent) & JPL to fly it this time?

That's nice, but... (4, Interesting)

milbournosphere (1273186) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060495)

I had kind of been rooting for the Titan mission. It's far riskier, but would give us some valuable information about the ice and methane lakes on the moon, and some hope to find microbial life.

Re:That's nice, but... (4, Interesting)

uigrad_2000 (398500) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060581)

Same here, minus the "kind of".

Current theories are that the methane rain falls in giant (3 inch) droplets, but just gently floats down due to the increased atmosphere and lower gravity. I'm really hoping that we get more images of this truly alien world sometime within my lifetime.

The TiME proposal seemed unusually inexpensive, and it pains me to think that it's not going to happen. As much as I dislike James Cameron's movies, I hope he suddenly gets an urge to pitch in some additional funding here :)

Re:That's nice, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41061099)

To the guy who always rants about "space nutters" as AC in space articles: you are a kook. Relax a little.

Re:That's nice, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41061553)

Preemptive antikooking is just another kind of kookiness. Or in this case, about the same as the space nutter guy fights straw man arguments without anyone actually making them. Or even has been caught making fake pro-space posts to have something to argue against and show how bad space nutters are... but is always surprised when all the replies are pro-space people calling his fake post stupid.

Re:That's nice, but... (2)

Arakageeta (671142) | more than 2 years ago | (#41061189)

Yes, and the rover could have sent "I'm on a boat!" for its first message home.

Oh well (5, Interesting)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060543)

I guess we'll never build base camp on the moon. It would be so much cheaper to send some 3D printers up there to melt some rocks and build and launch the next probes

Re:Oh well (3, Insightful)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060979)

I guess we'll never build base camp on the moon. It would be so much cheaper to send some 3D printers up there to melt some rocks and build and launch the next probes

That makes too much sense. The government will never go for it.

Private enterprise, OTOT...

Re:Oh well (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#41061685)

Everything you don't understand is easy?

Re:Oh well (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#41062115)

Where did I say "easy"?

Re:Oh well (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 2 years ago | (#41066391)

In a parallel universe where the laws of time and space mean that Earth is shaped like a pretzel.

Isn't this the wrong order? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060615)

Aren't you supposed to send your mole to infiltrate them before you start firing your laser guns at them? [slashdot.org]

Re:Isn't this the wrong order? (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 2 years ago | (#41066395)

What if the mole had the laser gun though?

A German mole you say? (2)

davidwr (791652) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060641)

Cue pre-Glastnost spy-novel jokes in 3...2...1...

Thunderbirds are GO! (2)

dwywit (1109409) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060661)

Wasn't the self-driving mole one of Thunderbird 2's pod payloads? Carry on, then. International Rescue on standby.

Re:Thunderbirds are GO! (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#41063257)

You're correct. Unfortunately the Thunderbids were decommissioned and replaced by the World Police: Team America.

DLR, CNES and others (2)

Yoda222 (943886) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060681)

I'm tired of the European national programs. Why don't we go together with ESA. I know that every country want to get its money back and that ESA is a administrative mess, but let's try it. (ok I may be one of the few people dreaming of a really unified Europe (or better, World) on every subject)

Re:DLR, CNES and others (-1, Offtopic)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060989)

I know that every country want to get its money back and that ESA is a administrative mess, but

OTOH, sounds like a good reason to do it yourself. I guess I just don't see the value of a unified Europe. A Europe that doesn't kill tens of millions of people every few decades is nice, but past that, I don't see the value in going further.

Re:DLR, CNES and others (4, Interesting)

bryonak (836632) | more than 2 years ago | (#41061659)

I do greatly enjoy the Euro and the European unification that has happened so far. There is still a lot of room for improvement, and most of it means more unification and standardisation.

Why not divide your country up into it's regions, then municipalities. Give each of them a different coinage, traffic laws, customs regulations, infrastructure policies, economic agenda, school programmes, "national" sports teams, anthems, you-name-the-other-200-things ... congratulations, you have made your former country a far worse place.
In hindsight, it's a no-brainer that we have unified whatever political unification happened so far in world history*.
It's silly obvious, really. Yet still there are people who insist that it's not worth it. Sure, there are usually short-term complications, but avoiding wars is by far not the only benefit.

* Yup, even with Yugoslavia and the USSR, where it first brought many decades of benefits. If you want to discuss that more extensively, be my guest. Just as a quick note, dictatorial discrimination of minorities is orthogonal and detrimental to unification.

Re:DLR, CNES and others (1)

bryonak (836632) | more than 2 years ago | (#41061761)

Sorry for packing too much in the last sentence, with "orthogonal and detrimental" I mean that it's orthogonal in it's rate of appearance (aka independent), and it's detrimental to the result of the unification.

Re:DLR, CNES and others (-1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#41063861)

Give each of them a different coinage, traffic laws, customs regulations, infrastructure policies, economic agenda, school programmes, "national" sports teams, anthems, you-name-the-other-200-things ... congratulations, you have made your former country a far worse place.

Well, ok. It would be nice to have a common coinage and a little common trade infrastructure (but don't go crazy, chuck that ISO organization standards junk). Past that we really don't see eye to eye.

Different economic agenda? They should have that since they have different regional interests. And as in the US, it's a great way to test policies rather than just throw them on an unsuspecting public, EU-style, and really generate a lot of hope that it works this time.

Different school programs? They should have that since it allows for experimentation. The perfect school doesn't exist so why do just one system? Different "national" sports teams? You do realize that not every sport can be reasonably played everywhere?

Different anthems? I'm not seeing the problem. I live in a country that not only has a national song (the US anthem), but it also has 48 states and several territories with one or more state songs as well. There's remarkably little drama about that. I suppose if you people revert to stuffing hapless victims in ovens, then I suggest starting with the people who make a stink about national anthems.

In hindsight, it's a no-brainer that we have unified whatever political unification happened so far in world history*. It's silly obvious, really. Yet still there are people who insist that it's not worth it. Sure, there are usually short-term complications, but avoiding wars is by far not the only benefit.

A "no-brainer", huh? Do you mean one needs to be absent a brain in order to appreciate the value of unification? I could see how that might be necessary.

Re:DLR, CNES and others (0)

bryonak (836632) | more than 2 years ago | (#41074035)

Funny that we're so far apart that each seems to consider the other's viewpoint untenable.

I assume you're a US citizen. Imagine what your country would look like today if the USA and the CSA both decided to be better off without each other. Or even earlier, if the midwest were to split off separately from (New) France and form a standalone country. And if Texas had chosen to stay independent in 1845. Imagine a Northern American continent with New York, Illinois, Texas and California in four different countries. Would the achievements of todays USA be matched by now? Some maybe, but I think it'd look rather bleak for the moon landing and similar great feats and they quite probably wouldn't sum up to the powerhouse the USA is today. (cynics may now throw in that on the up side, we wouldn't have all that hassle with it)

Now bear with me: imagine if we unified the USA and Canada over night. Merge the constitutions, resolve law discrepancies and whatnot. A New Yorker is already closer in mentality and culture to a Quebecian than to a citizen of Houston. The Canadian laws are easily livable since they're already lived with by millions of very similar people, there is nothing intrinsic preventing that. Just work hard at the merger and give it a honest and hard try.
The majority of the reasons against this are irrational (like nationalism) and those that make sense are usually short-term problems.
But... what would that bigger country look like in 100 years? I can't tell you exactly, but for inspiration take a look at the USA itself, at Qin's China, at the Swiss Federation, Germany, etc, pp.

Different economic agenda? They should have that since they have different regional interests. And as in the US, it's a great way to test policies rather than just throw them on an unsuspecting public, EU-style, and really generate a lot of hope that it works this time.

Currently different EU member states' foreign policies are working against each other over resource offers from both Russia and China. It's identified as a problem by many politicians. There is a terrible inefficiency that could be avoided if they were more coordination and a common interest, instead of prioritising one's own state.

Different school programs? They should have that since it allows for experimentation. The perfect school doesn't exist so why do just one system? Different "national" sports teams? You do realize that not every sport can be reasonably played everywhere?

Where I live, the schools are organised in a highly federal way. You get a coherent primary, secondary and middle school legislation for at most a million people (in most cases much less) at a time. This is good and helps specialise for regional needs as well as test new systems, BUT doesn't take away from the fact that every regional system converges to a precisely defined, standardised Matura/Abitur (see it as a "high school diploma"). Imagine if your high-school education was declared incompatible two states (in the USA) further. That's what often happens in the EU, and we need to push unification in this area a lot further.

Basically it's a pyramid scheme: you need to optimise some things at municipal level, then at the regional, then at the "national" for a few million people. But as seen with bigger nations, why stop there? That would be just foolish. Point is, further coordination in many areas requires structures usually found inside a country. So if we actually do the improvements, work together, coordinate, merge things for efficiency and rationalise, etc. We end up being a single country in all but name. But the most reasonable way to create those unified-country structures is to... unify the countries!

So, with all this in mind, I really can't fathom how someone could claim the unification of the EU to be something not worthwhile. Well-meaning of the Europeans assumed, of course.

Re:DLR, CNES and others (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#41076055)

Would the achievements of todays USA be matched by now?

I think so.

It's worth remembering that the primary benefit of a single government is simply a common legal and economic framework with some security tossed in. One doesn't need much of a government to provide that. The ability to engage in large projects just isn't very valuable. And where's the value in standardization of schools, anthems, and whatnot? I don't see it.

My take is that EU unification should have stopped prior to the creation of an oversized constitution. So maybe stop with a sparse implementation of the economic policies of the Maastricht Treaty.

But what of the accomplishments of the US requires a large national government? I'd say the military power. If it's split between four entities as your example, it's never going to be as effective, even each entity puts together a military as powerful, simply because the countries might often work at cross purposes.

The moon landing is achievable now by smaller countries than the US was at the time of Apollo. For example, the US had a real GDP (adjusted for inflation) of $2.8 trillion (in current dollars) per year in 1960 right before the start of Apollo. There are three countries, China, Germany, and Japan which have larger economies than that now. So right there, we have four countries with sufficient economic power to repeat Apollo as it was, a massive surge of spending for ten years. They also have the industrial capability as well. Brazil, France, Italy, and the UK aren't far off economically.

And frankly, there's better ways to do Apollo. I think we'll see rather bare-bones private attempts starting about twenty years from now. They won't be spending the equivalent of $150-200 billion to repeat Apollo, but trying a less ambitious but more economically viable approach.

There is a terrible inefficiency that could be avoided if they were more coordination and a common interest, instead of prioritising one's own state.

It's called "conflict of interest". And there's more of it as your country gets bigger.

Re:DLR, CNES and others (1)

bryonak (836632) | more than 2 years ago | (#41084765)

It's worth remembering that the primary benefit of a single government is simply a common legal and economic framework with some security tossed in. One doesn't need much of a government to provide that.

I fully agree here. At the same time I assert that the joined government of Germany and France could easily be smaller than the sum of the two separate ones.

The ability to engage in large projects just isn't very valuable.

To you it isn't, to me it is. Not that they are the most important ones, but having the option/capability when needed is very valuable.

And where's the value in standardization of schools, anthems, and whatnot? I don't see it.

Schools standardisation is about mobility. Again, your education (both university and the more basic part) should be considered compatible in another state. The EU often failed in this and sometimes still does, but it's getting better.
It's about putting less barriers to people to move around, about personal freedom.

Please note that I'm not for wholesale centralisation, because federalism goes perfectly fine with unification. You keep some things at state level (and the regional and municipal alike), but what's the point nowadays for Germany and France to keep separate militaries, but e.g. Texas and California don't have each their own air force?
And there really is no reason for electricity tolls between these two, but this goes hand in hand with them being separate countries.

But what of the accomplishments of the US requires a large national government? I'd say the military power. If it's split between four entities as your example, it's never going to be as effective, even each entity puts together a military as powerful, simply because the countries might often work at cross purposes.

Far more than just the military, basically most of the infrastructure.
Example: I often hear disrespect towards the UPS, and correct me if I'm wrong on this, but I assume you can simply send a letter to your friend whether he's at the other end of the city or at the other coast. Until recently you had to add extra stamps for cross border mail in nearly all EU member states, and it took 4-5 extra days (even if the letter was just to someone right across the border, 30km distance). Small things like that, but huge in number, and all slowing down mobility, interaction, development.

The moon landing is achievable now by smaller countries than the US was at the time of Apollo. For example, the US had a real GDP (adjusted for inflation) of $2.8 trillion (in current dollars) per year in 1960 right before the start of Apollo. There are three countries, China, Germany, and Japan which have larger economies than that now. So right there, we have four countries with sufficient economic power to repeat Apollo as it was, a massive surge of spending for ten years. They also have the industrial capability as well. Brazil, France, Italy, and the UK aren't far off economically.

So this implies that without the investments of the USA and Russia, we'd have the moon landing 40 or 50 years later?
You may accuse me of drinking too much of Tyson's koolaid [youtube.com] , but I do believe what he says. So we'd have a more stretched out scientific development, or simply put: slower progress. I'd much rather have what the US did, thankyouverymuch.

And frankly, there's better ways to do Apollo. I think we'll see rather bare-bones private attempts starting about twenty years from now. They won't be spending the equivalent of $150-200 billion to repeat Apollo, but trying a less ambitious but more economically viable approach.

I strongly disagree here. SpaceX, Boeing, etc. are mainly commercialising and rationalising existing knowledge and experience, and if it weren't for NASA, they'd have to make the same huge investment (which they wouldn't, I think we can realistically agree on that).
The Soviet space programme was insanely expensive as well, but cheaper because it had cost significantly less to produce the very same device for them.
If you work in research (I do), it's clear that when trying to make things happen that were deemed extremely hard to do before, cost efficiency often must wait.
Now if you wan't to discuss the financial aspect of the space shuttle maintenance, that's a different and less-glorious-for-NASA topic.

There is a terrible inefficiency that could be avoided if they were more coordination and a common interest, instead of prioritising one's own state.

It's called "conflict of interest". And there's more of it as your country gets bigger.

What's your opinion on the Texas Nationalist Movement? Is it a severe threat to the unity of the USA?

Anyways, thanks for the discussion, you can wrap it up if you wish.

Re:DLR, CNES and others (3, Insightful)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#41061017)

I'm tired of the European national programs. Why don't we go together with ESA. I know that every country want to get its money back and that ESA is a administrative mess, but let's try it. (ok I may be one of the few people dreaming of a really unified Europe (or better, World) on every subject)

Probably because ESA will want to lay off some of the costs on NASA, and NASA will get defunded because of the ESA investment. It's happened before, it'll happen continually. Same thing with a UN-funded space program. Lotta people want it, nobody wants to fund it, so it'll never happen.

Re:DLR, CNES and others (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41072533)

A really unified world... and where would you little dumbass go, if you happen to disagree with the world government on some things like personal freedoms, privacy, or basic human rights? Hm?

Why are people always so utterly retarded when it comes to that "Ooohh, world unity" delusion?

It's a bad idea for the exact same reason that a industry monopoly is a bad idea.

<rant karma-burning="OVER 9000 ;)" truth-level="ALSO OVER 9000">
And: Yeah, in a fair world, there would be competing governments in the same country. And if people weren't that retarded, it would work elegantly too.
I know, because I have developed and simulated such systems. Thanks to computers and the Internet it's really fucking easy now. It's only the minds who are too fucking retarded to comprehend how it could work, because they are memorization drones who are unable to even look for the very few very simple basic rules that would govern such a system, but would look at the complex results instead, which go over their heads. They just don't get the concept of "emergence".
</rant>

yogu fail i9t! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060697)

Re:yogu fail i9t! (-1, Flamebait)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#41061129)

If you're going to post a goat.cx link along with the the phrase yoga fail, then you should link to tubgirl or this [youtube.com] instead.

Colour Correctness or Correction (4, Interesting)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060999)

I remember the original viking landings and had one of the first Carl Sagan book afterwards with pictures from Mars (Cosmos). At that time it was abso-fucking-lutely mindblowing to have actual pictures from the surface of another planet (moon not included). I remember those pictures had a much stronger orange-pink colour to the sky because of the atmospheric gas composition.

Now the new pictures aren't showing a blue earth sky or anything, but they do seem to be less drastic than the old viking pictures. They are also orders of magnetude better pictures of course. But are these also better in terms of colour correctness or have they been altered for some reason. i.e. is this really what things look like on the surface?

That aside, the pictures are so mind numbingly crisp and high resolution that you can't help but think it was taken by someone in some desert here on Earth and photoshopped. I don't think it is a conspiracy at all. It's just that the pictures are so clear you can almsot feel like you can go there and take a look at the rover doing it's thing. Except for the 45 million mile thing. It is somewhat disconcerting.

Re:Colour Correctness or Correction (5, Informative)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 2 years ago | (#41061767)

There are generally two types of images that you'll see in the news, the non-white-balanced and the white-balanced images.
eg non white balanced:
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/images/?ImageID=4431
white balanced:
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/images/?ImageID=4429

The white balance information comes from taking pictures of a color calibration pattern on the rover. The new pictures are less drastic because of this, and they HAVE been altered to allow geologists to better study the environment.

Re:Colour Correctness or Correction (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#41061787)

From what I remember, Viking had various color filters on the camera and a color correction table on the side of the lander which could be used to correct them (i.e. it had known colors for the camera to record so the pictures could be fixed on Earth). So you may have seen uncorrected pictures with colors direct from the camera.

Re:Colour Correctness or Correction (2)

zmooc (33175) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068837)

This is a good read about the colors of Mars:

http://www.donaldedavis.com/PARTS/MARSCLRS.html [donaldedavis.com]

So is this one:

http://www.thelivingmoon.com/43ancients/02files/Mars_Blue_Bird_Color_01.html [thelivingmoon.com]

I remember those pictures had a much stronger orange-pink colour to the sky because of the atmospheric gas composition.

While sometimes they turn a bit reddish/yellow/orange due to dust clouds, the skies on Mars are about as blue as those on earth, albeit a bit darker since the sun is less intense. In general, it would be pretty difficult to distinguish a picture taken on Mars during good weather from one taken in a rocky desert on earth.

How about another planet? (1)

NetNinja (469346) | more than 2 years ago | (#41061243)

Time to start looking for another planet. Great success there on Mars time to take another leap for mankind and land on something more interesting.

Herman and Eddie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41061467)

Let's send Romney and Ryan (Herman and Eddie Munster) to Mars. They've certainly raised enough money for it.

This after laying off teachers? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41061643)

So we have money to send more mars probes but not to keep teachers! I guess only India should solve water, power and other problems before sending Mars probes but we should do the same after laying off thousands of teachers because we are USA! USA! USA!

PS: I am not at all against it. Just pointing out the unmistakable contempt some of us hold toward other countries when they try to achieve some scientific and tech advances.

"Heart-stopping" (2)

Smirker (695167) | more than 2 years ago | (#41061703)

From TFA, "heart-stopping" is the perfect way to describe the sky-crane. It was all over so fast and left a great sense of awe.

Mole? Can't .... resist.... pun.... (2)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#41061755)

Boooooooorrrrrring.

Low risk, low reward, low excitement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41066687)

What a disappointment; I hope NASA does not think that this will appease the taxpayers. Planetary science is almost dead now at NASA thanks to the pork projects such as the Rocket to Nowhere (SLS) that actually got increased funding while planetary science has been destroyed. The Army spends 20 billion a year on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan...but NASA cannot fund planetary missions are tiny fraction of that.
 

NASA has a hundred execllent mission plans (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068489)

It just looks like they'll be able to fund only two new ones the rest of the decade rather than the half dozen they hoped for. Both political parties want to cut NASA further, for different reasons.

Now that's my kind of... (1)

chazwatson (856793) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068693)

Drill, baby, drill!
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