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Curiosity Gearing Up for Drive to Next Study Location

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the warming-up-the-engines dept.

Mars 73

Curiosity has spent most of the past 5 weeks running instrument and system checks, but on Friday that is all scheduled to change. The plan is to "drive, drive, drive" until a suitable rock for the rover's first robotic "hands-on" analysis is found, says mission manager Jennifer Trosper. The rover will head to a location about 1,300 feet away labeled "Glenelg," where three different types of rock intersect.

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Ah, Ye Olden Times. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41331927)

The rover will head to a location about 1,300 feet away...

That be 12/36ths of a cubit, multiplied by four and 1/4 rods, then minus sixteen and 1/8th hogsheads.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41331939)

What is that in a civilized unit of measure?

When are American's going to grow up?

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (4, Funny)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41332245)

When are American's going to grow up?

When you stop abusing the apostrophe.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41332965)

When are American's going to grow up?

When you stop abusing the apostrophe.

At least it's not a grave situation. Americans that neglect their colons oft regret.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (1)

Dekker3D (989692) | about 2 years ago | (#41336041)

We's have's the right's to abu'se whatever's and whoever's we want's!

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (3, Funny)

NotSanguine (1917456) | about 2 years ago | (#41332451)

What is that in a civilized unit of measure?

When are American's going to grow up?

It's Americans, not American's and that's a very good question.

Also, 1m=3.275ft, so 1300 feet = 396.95m or 1.97 furlongs.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (4, Insightful)

Teancum (67324) | about 2 years ago | (#41333155)

If you are going to do conversions, make sure you include proper rounding to significant digits and avoid false precision.

In other words: 1300 feet = 400 m = 2 furlongs.

Well, those are approximate conversions, but it is an approximate distance as well. This is something I think most "science reporting" does a horrible job of dealing with as well.

As for cubits, those were about 21 inches or about 52 centimeters, which would put the distance at about 800 cubits or about 80 rods. A hoghead is a unit of volume, which isn't applicable.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41333771)

2.0 furlongs, you jerk

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#41334909)

I think that joke went so far over your head you didn't even hear the whoosh.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (1)

NotSanguine (1917456) | about 2 years ago | (#41335927)

If you are going to do conversions, make sure you include proper rounding to significant digits and avoid false precision.

In other words: 1300 feet = 400 m = 2 furlongs.

Well, those are approximate conversions, but it is an approximate distance as well. This is something I think most "science reporting" does a horrible job of dealing with as well.

As for cubits, those were about 21 inches or about 52 centimeters, which would put the distance at about 800 cubits or about 80 rods. A hoghead is a unit of volume, which isn't applicable.

I break out in hives if I use less than two decimal places, you insensitive clod!

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41359763)

Meters? What an absurd unit!
To make it easier to understand, it's about 433.3 yards or 3.962.000.000.000 angstroms or 1806 cables or 0.000001322 lightseconds....

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (1)

mirix (1649853) | about 2 years ago | (#41332461)

It's roughly two furlongs...

(~400m).

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (2, Funny)

PPalmgren (1009823) | about 2 years ago | (#41334247)

I love the irony of it. I was having a discussion with a buddy from Montreal and he was railing on the US for not being metric. I was like....bro....you're the only province on the continent that speaks French. I'll spend trillions converting the US to metric if you spend trillions forcing everyone to learn the dominant language, English.

The EU is where most of the imperial unit bitterness comes from, and it has 23 official languages. Oh sweet irony.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (3, Insightful)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#41334899)

What is that in a civilized unit of measure?

When are American's going to grow up?

A foot is an arbitrary unit of measurement like a metre. What's the difference? Why is one more civilized or grown up than the other?

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41336635)

Would that be the international foot or the survey foot? Indian or English survey foot? And would it be pre- or post-1959 when the foot was standardized world-wide? Try the same with gallons. Will that be US or Imperial, liquid or dry? For miles, would that be statute miles, nautical miles, US statute miles, UK statute miles, US survey miles (derived from the afore-mentioned survey foot and similar yard)... and it just gets sillier from there. Wait, these differences don't matter? But oh, they do, if you're shipping stuff internationally and expect to get paid properly, or if you're buying real estate and want to make sure that your land survey is correct.

To twist a phrase, the nice thing about Imperial measures is that there are so fricking many to choose from. It's so bad that the "standard" solution these days for Imperial measures is to define *all* of them in terms of the metric equivalents.

Thanks, but I'll take the system with *one* arbitrary unit established rather than half a dozen different ones that are now all based on the metric system anyway.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (2)

SecurityTheatre (2427858) | about 2 years ago | (#41337481)

To be fair, there are really only two SI units from which the rest can be derived.

For example, a kilogram can be defined as the weight of 100 cubic mL of pure distilled water at STP.

A gram is also defined by the weight of one mole of an element (inverse to its atomic weight).

A joule is defined by the energy required to apply a force of one newton for one metre. The list goes on.

A calorie (SI) is defined by the energy required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree celsius.

A hectare is 10,000 sq meters

The whole point of SI units is that you can define two units (it doesn't matter which), and obtain all the rest from those two. (You also have to define the size of one degree celsius/kelvin, but kelvin is actually based at absolute zero, so it requires no other definition)

The imperial metrics are not often related to each other at all, so it's absolutely insane to try to use them in science, since converting between major units is so damn hard. How many feet in a mile? 5280. How much does water weigh? 8.345404 pounds per gallon, or 62.42796 pounds per cubic foot. A gallon is 0.133681 cubic feet, or 231 cubic inches. An acre is 45560 sq ft. Don't even start trying to define BTU (instead of joule). Its one of the few that's well defined (in terms of heating water), but then there are no international standards, so countries that use BTU all have slightly different definitions of it. The US, UK, India all have measures that differ by about 5%. Neat!

Yucko!

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (5, Insightful)

Brett Buck (811747) | about 2 years ago | (#41332047)

When you put a rover on Mars, you can pick whatever units you want.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (5, Funny)

isorox (205688) | about 2 years ago | (#41332135)

When you put a rover on Mars, you can pick whatever units you want.

That worked out so well for the Mars Climate Orbiter

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (0)

lawnboy5-O (772026) | about 2 years ago | (#41332169)

LOL!!

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41332333)

So long as you all use the *same* arbitrary unit its all fun and games

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (5, Funny)

felipekk (1007591) | about 2 years ago | (#41332839)

I know it's a different one, but still oblig:

http://xkcd.com/695/ [xkcd.com]

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 2 years ago | (#41333177)

Why does that cartoon have such an emotive effect on us?

Because, in our childhood, we saw this [youtube.com] . And wept.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (1)

SB9876 (723368) | about 2 years ago | (#41335589)

Would it make you feel better to know that Sojourner from the Pathfinder mission tried to return to it's base station after we lost contact with it?
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/MRO/news/mro-20070111_prt.htm [nasa.gov]

Wait, no? Why are you sobbing?

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41359789)

Hahahahaha so true....

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 2 years ago | (#41332141)

Did samzenpus/slashdot/unnamed_submitter put a rover on Mars? News to me.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#41335221)

Who paid for that rover? Samzepus, slashdot, unnamed_submitter, me, and if you're American, you. NASA couldn't exist without tax money. WE did indeed put Curiosity on Mars.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 2 years ago | (#41338497)

That is like saying you created the iPhone 5, because you hold shares in Apple (or even better you paid for an iPhone 4s, and Apple funded iPhone 5 development using your money)

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41332143)

When you write a slashdot summary about an organization that put a rover on Mars, you can pick whatever units you want.

FTFY. The original press release from NASA contained the both the metric units and the imperial ones (Didn't specify the subset but I am going to assume British feet.)
The article linked in the summary only presents the distance in metric units. The summary is either not a summary of the article or the one who wrote the summary took the liberty to convert the liberty to convert the units with some rounding.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41332161)

How many mohawks is it?

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (2)

Rik Rohl (1399705) | about 2 years ago | (#41332363)

NASA has. They chose metric.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (1)

Tore S B (711705) | about 2 years ago | (#41353407)

They did: They picked the metric system, which they have been using since 1990 and exclusively since 2007.

The submitter is the one who used the deprecated regional standard.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (1)

Grayhand (2610049) | about 2 years ago | (#41332329)

The rover will head to a location about 1,300 feet away...

That be 12/36ths of a cubit, multiplied by four and 1/4 rods, then minus sixteen and 1/8th hogsheads.

Guess I missed the joke since Hogshead is more of a volume measurement. Here's the Wikipedia explanation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hogshead [wikipedia.org]

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#41332581)

Guess I missed the joke

Yep.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41333037)

I've also heard tell that 1300 feets is about 400 ten millionths of the distance from the equator to the pole of the Earth, measured through Paris. But why someone would use such an awkward and arcane unit of measurement, I can not fathom.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (0)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 2 years ago | (#41333129)

It's a robot, does it drive an automatic or a manual transmission? If it's an American made robot I doubt it's programmed to operate a clutch.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (2)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 years ago | (#41333915)

It's a robot, does it drive an automatic or a manual transmission? If it's an American made robot I doubt it's programmed to operate a clutch.

Hey, I'm an American, functioning robot who learned early on in my programming to work a clutch. Unfortunately, Curiosity's steering wheel isn't left side mounted. ;-(

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 2 years ago | (#41334445)

Ah, Britishisms. While 85% of the world drives on the left and the automobile was invented in America, Britain claims that the US, Germany, France, and basically everyone except New Zealand drives on the wrong side of the road.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41334695)

From what I can find, Karl Benz invented the automobile. Not an American.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 2 years ago | (#41336181)

In America we're taught that Henry Ford invented the automobile and the assembly line. And occasionally, the internal combustion engine. Education is kind of propagandist here.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 years ago | (#41343205)

In America we're taught that Henry Ford invented the automobile and the assembly line. And occasionally, the internal combustion engine. Education is kind of propagandist here.

I don't know what U.S. school you went to, ours taught us that Henry Ford invented the assembly line.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 2 years ago | (#41360873)

Apparently he didn't invent the assembly line at all. But we're taught that here.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (2)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#41334981)

While 85% of the world drives on the left

There must be a lot of very drunk or highly incompetent drivers in the rest of the world then.

It's in Britain that we drive on the left.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | about 2 years ago | (#41337129)

In terms of population, around 1/3rd of the world drives on the left (side of the road, i.e. right-hand drive), and 2/3rds on the right (side of the road, i.e. left-hand drive)

India alone, with well over a billion people, drives on the left. Add to that Japan, much of SE Asia, Australia and (as you mention) NZ. And no doubt some other ones I'm not aware of. It's by no means just one or two holdouts (where as the metric vs. imperial situation is really just the US and a couple of non-factor countries, versus everyone else)

The other thing is that left-hand or right-hand drive are really just two equally good alternatives. They are the same thing, just mirrored, and neither is inherently superior. Whereas comparing the two systems of measurement, they are clearly quite different and there are points of superiority/inferiority that can be argued.

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 2 years ago | (#41361305)

Geographical coverage is more important for this versus population. It's a matter of where you are. Let's say that something the size of, say, Germany had 2/3 the population of the world (doable but would be impractical) and drove on the left. The rest of the earth drives on the right. Would you say, well, 2/3 of the earth drives on the left?

The nice thing about left hand drive is you can operate the gear stick with the left hand. Unfortunately, they still operate on the idea that the back brake is the primary brake, and so on bicycles in left-drive countries the right brake is the front brake (the one you can't operate while signalling). As ridiculous as this method of thinking is, it's really a non-issue: you want to come down on the front brake and only the front brake to emergency stop on a bicycle (the back won't add braking force and will cause the bike to fishtail), but you can't do it with one hand.

You need both hands to do an emergency stop on a bicycle because your body will be forced forward, and with one hand you'll at best wind up turning the bike sharply in the direction of the rear brake; at worst, you'll fly forward, smack your crotch into the handle, and flip the bike over its front end. Really to brake fast, you need both hands on the handlebars, drop your elbows to brace, then hit the front brake hard. This pushes your body forward, but your elbows should be lined up with the handlebars and you'll remain in your seat. Of course if you squeeze the front brake too hard, the front wheel skids and the bike goes down.

People do lots of silly things. Like putting the clutch on the left. Who does that?

Re:Ah, Ye Olden Times. (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#41335481)

A meter is just a little over three feet. 5280 feet is a mile, a km is .6 of a mile. The math is easy, especially if you don't need much precision.

reply (-1)

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Re:reply (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41332069)

Do you have specifically purposed machinery I can crush chinks with? Besides communism, I mean.

Re:reply (0)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#41332323)

Do you have specifically purposed machinery I can crush chinks with? Besides communism, I mean.

I prefer poking to crushing. Chrushing is the Cowboyneal approach...

Crushing versus that poking thing. (2)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41333121)

This is the poking robot. Do not listen to the crushing robot. He is defective. Crushing is the answer!

Re:Crushing versus that poking thing. (2)

dissy (172727) | about 2 years ago | (#41333679)

This is the poking robot. Do not listen to the crushing robot. He is defective. Crushing is the answer!

Do you mean to say that Curiosity has pushed grandma to the bottom of the stairs?

Re:reply (0)

jones_supa (887896) | about 2 years ago | (#41332093)

The complete crushing plants are exported to Russia, Mongolia, middle Asia, Africa and other regions around the world.

Do you set up installations on Mars too?

Re:reply (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#41335039)

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter..

Lazy scientists (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41332249)

Taking a car when they could have just walked 400 meters. Don't they think of the environment?

Rover control interface is online! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41332337)

Nasa's Curiosity Monster Truck Rover has an online control simulator! [imonstertruckgames.com] It takes about 8 minutes to actually work though.

A road trip on Mars... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41332393)

Too bad the rover doesn't have external speakers. Then the public could fight over what song is playing over the radio.

Re:A road trip on Mars... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41332997)

Shotgun!

what hands? (3, Funny)

FranTaylor (164577) | about 2 years ago | (#41332413)

I don't see hands on the ends of those robot arms. I don't know what they are talking about.

The robot devil had to sign a deal with Fry to get hands.

Re:what hands? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41332825)

his creator died before he could get his hands. Sad, that.

1300 feet to SI (1, Informative)

rroman (2627559) | about 2 years ago | (#41332501)

1300 feet that is 396.24 m. (Score:5, Informative)

Re:1300 feet to SI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41332781)

No, 1300.0 feet is 396.24 m. In this context 1300 feet is 400 m.

Re:1300 feet to SI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41332951)

Or in a full english sentence: "Exactly 1300 feet are 396.24m" and "Roughly 1300 feet are about 400m".

So if direction to a crime is criminal (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41332829)

Isn't incitement to riot also criminal. Like the USA far rightwingnut xtians and jews who did this:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/13/egypt-libya-hollywood-film

as guilty of the deaths of American citizens as the rioters?

Re:So if direction to a crime is criminal (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about 2 years ago | (#41333105)

Did you get lost on the way to the sanitarium? Here, let me help you in the right direction.

Glenelg? (3, Funny)

aglider (2435074) | about 2 years ago | (#41333015)

Curiosity will certainly end up in a palindrome loop!

Re:Glenelg? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41336763)

Actually, that's one of the reasons they chose that name. Glenelg is to the east of the landing site, and they're ultimately going west and south to the main science target, so they'll drive by some of the terrain twice in opposite directions. A palindrome seemed appropriate.

Re:Glenelg? (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | about 2 years ago | (#41337313)

What's with all the Australian place names being used?

The landing site was adjacent to a point they are calling Goulburn (a town in south-eastern New South Wales [goo.gl] ).

Glenelg [goo.gl] is a suburb (and rather nice beach) in Adelaide, South Australia. As far as my Google-fu can determine, it is the only location named as such on earth.

There's also a few other names being used by NASA to refer to nearby points of interest that seem to have Australian origin. My only guess is that it has something to do with the fact that the overall area in which they landed, Gale Crater, is named after an Australian astronomer?

Re:Glenelg? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41340447)

"Glenelg [goo.gl] is a suburb (and rather nice beach) in Adelaide, South Australia. As far as my Google-fu can determine, it is the only location named as such on earth."

No, there are more. The original Glenelg is a village in Scotland, after which the suburb in Australia is probably also named.

Generally speaking, the MSL team make up a list of names from a particular region or theme, and then they pick from those as they go along. This was the case for the previous rover missions too.

The current theme for the names is based on names of features near Yellowknife in northern Canada. Glenelg is one of them (presumably itself named after the original Glenelg in Scotland). A lot more details about the choice of MSL names and about Glenelg here [nasa.gov] .

Re:Glenelg? (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | about 2 years ago | (#41344159)

Ah, thanks. My Google-fu is lacking it appears. Actually that's one issue with the way that search engines geolocate you and present 'relevant' results these days - it makes looking for locations named the same as some local location difficult!

SAM and the tune-able laser? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41333425)

The Big News is the news they are not telling us yet, and that is the SAM tunable laser tests for methane. Although there may not be cows on Mars (that we know of), there are other possible sources of methane, either biological or non-biological. SAM's laser should be able to sort out the carbon isotopes in methane it finds (if it finds any) and give us a read on the source. The experiment has been running on and off for a couple of weeks, but JPL is sitting on results....hmmmm, but they promised something next week. We will see.

Personally I am worried about methane bleeding out of plastic parts on the rover and throwing off the results.

The difference between traveling on Curiosity (1)

mapkinase (958129) | about 2 years ago | (#41333439)

spent most of the past 5 weeks running instrument and system checks

Curiosity
is almost the worst mean of transportation! Almost, because the difference between traveling on Curiosity and
airplane is that you won't have to get a prostate check before boarding Curiosity.

Re:The difference between traveling on Curiosity (2)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 2 years ago | (#41335045)

If Curiosity encountered a prostate on Mars, I'm sure it'd want to investigate it with its laser, and possibly drill.

Curiosity first words? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41336797)

Dafuq is tis? Dafuq is tat?

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