Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

NASA Prepares Probes For Suicide Mission

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the goodbye-cruel-moon dept.

Moon 65

Press2ToContinue writes "According to a NASA news release, 'Twin lunar-orbiting NASA spacecraft that have allowed scientists to learn more about the internal structure and composition of the moon are being prepared for their controlled descent and impact on a mountain near the moon's north pole at about 2:28 p.m. PST (5:28 p.m. EST) Monday, Dec. 17. Ebb and Flow, the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission probes, are being sent purposely into the lunar surface because their low orbit and low fuel levels preclude further scientific operations. The duo's successful prime and extended science missions generated the highest resolution gravity field map of any celestial body. The map will provide a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed and evolved. Both spacecraft will hit the surface at 3,760 mph (1.7 kilometers per second). No imagery of the impact is expected because the region will be in shadow at the time.' That's too bad; observing the impacts could provide valuable feedback. For example, a spectrographic analysis of the impact dust cloud could reveal additional density and compositional element information for the lunar polar surfaces." Emily Lakdawalla at the Planetary Society has more information about the violent end to GRAIL's mission. If the probes were going to hit the surface of the Moon vertically, they would probably leave a crater about 3 or 4 meters in diameter. However, they are actually coming in at a very slight angle: 1.5 degrees from the horizontal, though the mountain itself has a 20-degree slope. Despite the darkness at the impact site, NASA will attempt to monitor the crashes using the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

cancel ×

65 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

IS this part of the NASA outreach (2, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#42286173)

Suicide mission eh! Is this part of the NASA outreach to Muslims [foxnews.com] ?

Re:IS this part of the NASA outreach (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42286265)

Sir, you owe me a new keyboard. This one does not function well anymore after having coffee blown all over it.

Re:IS this part of the NASA outreach (0, Flamebait)

Bomazi (1875554) | about 2 years ago | (#42286445)

Where is -1 offensive when you need it ? Seriously.

Re:IS this part of the NASA outreach (1, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#42286873)

Where is -1 offensive when you need it ?

Usually in the mirror, when people wake up. (As a rule, I only put my glasses on in the morning *after* I wash, not before.)

Re:IS this part of the NASA outreach (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288243)

Hmm, when I get up in the morning, the first thing I do is look at the handsome fellow in the mirror and tell him he is going to have another awesome day!

We must be different.

jokes are offensive (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42287119)

Most jokes that are laugh out loud funny tend to be offensive. Not sure why parent was flagged for being a troll.

Re:jokes are offensive (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42287493)

Always a douche around to ruin it for everybody!

Re:IS this part of the NASA outreach (3, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#42287467)

Where is -1 offensive when you need it ?

There are two good moderations for that: troll, and flamebait. We, on the other hand, are -1 offtopic.

Re:IS this part of the NASA outreach (2, Interesting)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#42286579)

This has to be the cleverest joke I have seen on /. in a long time.

Re:IS this part of the NASA outreach (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288663)

& he waited 2+ years to make it, so i guess the patience paid off?

Re:IS this part of the NASA outreach (1, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#42288795)

This has to be the cleverest joke I have seen on /. in a long time.

Yes, stereotyping a large portion of the world population because of the actions of miniscule percentage of it is funny and clever as hell. By the way, nice propeller hat there, nerd. When are you going to move out of mom's basement? I bet you get invited to all the cool parties. See how clever I am? x_x

Re:IS this part of the NASA outreach (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42290783)

It is hysterical because it is a joke. That's how these things work, you uptight twat. When are you going to get off your period?

Re:IS this part of the NASA outreach (0)

tbird81 (946205) | about 2 years ago | (#42292893)

Wow you're an uptight dickhead. Have you never heard of Muslim suicide bombers? It's what they do!

So we've not allowed to discuss it, or joke about it because it's offensive?

Let me guess - you're "European".

Re:IS this part of the NASA outreach (1)

TempestRose (1187397) | about 2 years ago | (#42286887)

Why is it Always that I have no mod points when I need them? Very nice Sir!

Re:IS this part of the NASA outreach (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42287147)

I don't get it, parent gets modded as troll and then below we have a guy saying "its not like they are going to go to heaven and get 72 virgins for this martyrdom." getting +5 interesting points.

Re:IS this part of the NASA outreach (1)

Seeteufel (1736784) | about 2 years ago | (#42287479)

It's about the holy GRAIL dammit [youtube.com] and its superhuman powers.

Re:IS this part of the NASA outreach (1)

Grayhand (2610049) | about 2 years ago | (#42297091)

Suicide mission eh! Is this part of the NASA outreach to Muslims [foxnews.com] ?

Actually they've been showing the probes the Twilight movies in an endless loop for weeks now. The probes seem quite excited at the prospect of dying on the mission.

Wait! (4, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#42286185)

Don't do it GRAIL! You have so much still to live for! Remember the brave Rovers! They're still out there, long after their parents abandoned them, staring up at the red sky. Believe in yourself and you can accomplish anything! Call the satellite suicide hotline now.

"Suicide" mission? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42286225)

These are unmanned probes. Way to headline, folks.

Re:"Suicide" mission? (2, Interesting)

rossdee (243626) | about 2 years ago | (#42286271)

Exactly - its not like they are going to go to heaven and get 72 virgins for this martyrdom.

The 2nd law of robotics (robots must obey humans) trumps the 3rd law (self preservation)

Re:"Suicide" mission? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42286377)

Actually, 3rd law is (to paraphrase) "self-preservation unless in conflict with the other two laws", which is not the case here...unless there someone in the north pole of the moon that we don't know about.

Re:"Suicide" mission? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42291409)

Actually, 3rd law is (to paraphrase) "self-preservation unless in conflict with the other two laws", which is not the case here...unless there someone in the north pole of the moon that we don't know about.

No the GP is correct
The whole set is:
1. A robot shall not harm a human nor by inaction allow harm to come to a human
2. A robot shall obey orders given to it by a human except when these orders conflict with the first law
3. A robot shall protect it's own existence except when doing so would conflict with the first two laws.

So when a human directs the robot (by radio) to fire a de-orbit burn that will result in it's destruction, the robot will obey because the 2nd law superceeds the 3rd, and the first law is not relevant.

Re:"Suicide" mission? (1)

MatthewCCNA (1405885) | about 2 years ago | (#42286831)

The 2nd law of robotics (robots must obey humans) trumps the 3rd law (self preservation)

This is the issue I've always had with the 3 laws, why can't we value all sentient life (both organic and synthetic) with equal respect.

Re:"Suicide" mission? (0)

deathlyslow (514135) | about 2 years ago | (#42286907)

But if the human built device is programmed for and relies on the three laws exclusively and is incapable of rational thought, it is not sentient is it?

Re:"Suicide" mission? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288723)

You never actually read Asimov, did you?

Re:"Suicide" mission? (0)

deathlyslow (514135) | about 2 years ago | (#42289525)

No I haven't. I was thinking philosophically.

Re:"Suicide" mission? (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 2 years ago | (#42289147)

The 2nd law of robotics (robots must obey humans) trumps the 3rd law (self preservation)

Unless, or course, hookers and booze are in play.

Re:"Suicide" mission? (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about 2 years ago | (#42291213)

Only as long as the electro-psychological potentials are in proper working order.
Don't forget what happened to Robot LVX-1.

Re:"Suicide" mission? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42286303)

Definition of a probe is pretty much 'throw it way when done'. Right? They don't come back to Earth.

Re:"Suicide" mission? (1)

crepe-boy (950569) | about 2 years ago | (#42297357)

Plus they are doing it at the behest of their evil human overlords, so this is MURDER, rather than "suicide". ...but "NASA murders their worker [robots]" probably isn't the kind of headline they'd like.

Why not crash on the bright side? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42286277)

Why are they crashing them in the shadow (of the mountain?)? Why not somewhere else or during a time where we can see and analyse the impact?

I even read TFA but it didn't really add anything to the summary...

Better yet, crash it onto... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42287093)

...somebody here on Earth that we don't like... for example the Canadians, because of that bagged milk thing.

The new Binford QuadNozzel hydrogen perox feeder! (0)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#42286283)

More crashing billion-dollar machines into the moon at over a mile per second. Can we stop putting Tim the Tool Man Taylor in charge of NASA?

Re:The new Binford QuadNozzel hydrogen perox feede (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42286349)

Hey! At least he was funny! All we get from NASA or other science related articles is some corny comment the author or submitter adds, or some very very bad puns.

Re:The new Binford QuadNozzel hydrogen perox feede (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42287111)

I can't help but be reminded of that image in the (awful) "time machine" movie where they blew up the moon

this one... .http://www.geekologie.com/2009/06/17/moon%20boom.jpg

We Satellites That Are About to Die Solute You (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42286293)

Just give them a stiff drink.

Why not to fly it out of the solar system? (2, Interesting)

Kergan (780543) | about 2 years ago | (#42286333)

NASA is not showing much of a sense of humor here.

On a very personal note, I wish they'd fly it out of the solar system, in the hopes that it might eventually land on a planet somewhere after drifting through space for a few billion years.

Because, who knows... maybe a few bacteria currently contaminate the probe, survive the drift through space, and end up finding their new planet hospitable. Or more fun yet, it could land within the reach of pre-modern civilization somewhere [imdb.com] .

Re:Why not to fly it out of the solar system? (3, Informative)

isorox (205688) | about 2 years ago | (#42286433)

NASA is not showing much of a sense of humor here.

On a very personal note, I wish they'd fly it out of the solar system, in the hopes that it might eventually land on a planet somewhere after drifting through space for a few billion years.

Because, who knows... maybe a few bacteria currently contaminate the probe, survive the drift through space, and end up finding their new planet hospitable. Or more fun yet, it could land within the reach of pre-modern civilization somewhere [imdb.com] .

These probes don't have enough fuel to get back to earth, let alone escape the sun's gravity well.

Re:Why not to fly it out of the solar system? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42286807)

doing this just before the Mayan not-really-predicted end of the Earth is pretty funny. All the GRAILs need to do is hit the moon's Exhaust Port in a Death-Star-like manner and bingo... Earth dies in a shower of moon bits.

Re:Why not to fly it out of the solar system? (5, Informative)

feedayeen (1322473) | about 2 years ago | (#42286437)

We don't have enough fuel to actually send these things anywhere but down. As for why we don't just leave them there, usually satellites are usually decommissioned when they run out of some resource. For commercial satellites, it's usually the fuel used to maneuver, which means that it will no longer be able to doge debris so it's best to ditch them there, but for scientific applications, we often have a tank of liquid He or N2 somewhere used to cool an instrument. When that tank runs out, you have to ask if the other sensors are worthwhile to keep which occasionally they are.

If the probe is worthless, it'll just add to the satellite debris and 200 years from now it'll be a problem. But these things have a lot of kinetic energy and we really don't know what's even a foot underground on the moon so you might as well crash it and look to see what you find. As for why we're doing it at night, the moon has a temperature swing of over 200 degrees between day and night, we don't want any volatile compounds to evaporate before we get a chance to look.

Re:Why not to fly it out of the solar system? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#42287003)

As for why we're doing it at night, the moon has a temperature swing of over 200 degrees between day and night, we don't want any volatile compounds to evaporate before we get a chance to look.

The article suggests there'll be no imagery at all, either of the impact or any dust cloud.

Re:Why not to fly it out of the solar system? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42287237)

I seem to recall previous intentional crashes like this were done on the dark side, but done very near the terminator, so that the ejecta could be seen after it had risen to a certain altitude; this let earth based telescopes see it and get the spectra.

----0 { earth
----o { moon
 
`__'__` { sun

Is a similar thing being done this time?

Re:Why not to fly it out of the solar system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42291799)

We do not leave them there because we can't. Low orbits around the moon are not stable due to local gravity variations. That means they will eventually crash anyway. Therefor you might as well crash them in a controlled manner and get some scientific data out of it.

Re:Why not to fly it out of the solar system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42286477)

"I wish they'd fly it out of the solar system"

They can't: not enough fuel.

Re:Why not to fly it out of the solar system? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#42286599)

This is simply a controlled demolition, instead of just letting it drift around the solar system, possibly eventually crashing into the side of your house.

Re:Why not to fly it out of the solar system? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42287755)

While it's not possible, I WISH one would hit your house and the other would hit GP's, as your punishment for both being so scientifically illiterate.

They're deep in the bottom of a bloody gravity well WITHOUT ENOUGH FUEL TO KEEP MAKING TINY CORRECTIONS IN THEIR ORBIT, so where in hell do you morons think they'll get the delta-v to leave the lunar AND TERRAN grav wells and "drift around the solar system", or even to leave the lunar grav well to strike GP's house (presumably on Earth)?! They're crashing on the moon whether deliberately or not; they can't get anywhere else.

Re:Why not to fly it out of the solar system? (2)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 2 years ago | (#42289159)

Oh, you know, they're out in SPACE, and pretty much everywhere in SPACE is the same. Moons, planets, stars, galaxies ... it's all SPACE. Once you're one place in SPACE, getting to any other place in SPACE should be easy, right?

Compare to HISTORY and ASIA.

Re:Why not to fly it out of the solar system? (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | about 2 years ago | (#42306205)

Once you're one place in SPACE, getting to any other place in SPACE should be easy, right?

The term "easy" as you use it is measured in a unit called Delta-V, which is a function of mostly a) spacecraft mass, and b) remaining fuel supplies. In this case, the probes don't have enough easy (don't have enough Delta-V) to get back to Earth.

Actually, I do realize that you were being sarcastic. This post is really for those people who don't understand why the Space Shuttle can't get to the moon, or why the ISS cannot be sent to Mars.

Re:Why not to fly it out of the solar system? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#42288199)

This is simply a controlled demolition, instead of just letting it drift around the solar system, possibly eventually crashing into the side of your house.

As Sheldon would say, "Oh, good lard!" They're small. They don't have enough fuel to escape the moon's gravity. If they could hit the earth, they'd burn up completely in the atmosphere.

I think you need some more coffee, son.

Re:Why not to fly it out of the solar system? (2)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 years ago | (#42288273)

They are purposely being crashed on the dark side of the moon so as not to contaminate previous mission sites.

"There will be no more extended missions, because Ebb and Flow are almost out of fuel. The spacecraft will crash into the lunar surface eventually, so the Grail team is bringing them down in a controlled fashion. (An uncontrolled crash would pose an eight-in-a-million risk of hitting a heritage site, researchers said.) "This is all according to plan," Zuber said. A little bit of science left On Friday morning, mission managers will turn off Ebb and Flow's science instruments and order a maneuver that puts the probes on course for the rim of the crater, which sits at a latitude of 75.62 degrees north and a longitude of 26.63 degrees east. On Monday, the low-flying spacecraft will hit the wall of rock head-on, at an angle of just 1 degree or so above the horizontal. The spacecraft will blast out small holes in the rim but leave little of themselves behind. " http://www.foxnews.com/science/2012/12/14/nasa-probes-readying-moon-crash/ [foxnews.com]

Re:Why not to fly it out of the solar system? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#42287693)

You never heard of the Voyager probes?

Re:Why not to fly it out of the solar system? (1)

hackertourist (2202674) | about 2 years ago | (#42288605)

They're low on fuel, and in a very low orbit over the moon. Once they run out of fuel, the moon's uneven gravitational field will ensure they'll crash soon anyway. Better to make it a controlled crash; I'd rather not have them crash into the Apollo 11 landing site.

Re:Why not to fly it out of the solar system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42303733)

Want to learn why? Go play Kerbal Space Program. Getting stuck in space is a terrible feeling, especially with cute little green aliens.

Imperialist Dogs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42286385)

It is of no surprise that after our Dear Leader's awesome display of wisdom through his intent to safely land his glorious satellite back to a surface that the imperialist trash will witness just how expedient it is and follow suit.

Suicide mission? (1)

gtirloni (1531285) | about 2 years ago | (#42287031)

Where do I sign?

ZOMG Where are the environmentalists? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42287099)

They are going to pollute the moon with RoHS banned substances! I am seriously disappointed they aren't taking a stand on this serious issue.

That explains it (1)

imadork (226897) | about 2 years ago | (#42287745)

Unbeknownst to us, the probes are actually going to hit the secret underground Mayan moon base (where they went after the aliens gave them the technology to leave behind the famine on Earth that would have wiped them out), and they are going to attack on 12/21. You heard it here first!

Mach speed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42287985)

Both spacecraft will hit the surface at 3,760 mph

What is this in mach in space?

NASA planning procedure for the manover . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288105)

1) Send non-SI data to probe.
2) Watch the impact

Amazing coincidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42288321)

The probes have the same retirement policy as at my company.

Why crash them for no reason? (1)

Rastl (955935) | about 2 years ago | (#42288443)

I don't see anywhere in the article where they don't have enough fuel to escape the moon's gravity. They've stated that they don't expect to be able to monitor the landing for any additional research. So have them head out into the great unknown instead of smashing them into the moon.

I guess this says all that needs to be said about our cultural mindset. "We don't need it any more, just toss it over there."

Re:Why crash them for no reason? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42289071)

I don't see anywhere in the article where they don't have enough fuel to escape the moon's gravity.

Ahhh yes, the fundamental law of the universe--the lack of mention of something in the article must mean that the opposite is true. ...OR.... it could mean that the fact should be patently obvious to anyone with a slight amount of technical common sense.

HINT---if you don't understand, perhaps you pause before commenting.

I guess this says all that needs to be said about our cultural mindset. "We don't need it any more, just toss it over there."

Or perhaps it just says the following about our cultural mindset --- "If we lack basic understanding of what's being discussed it must mean everyone else is wrong"

Re:Why crash them for no reason? (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 2 years ago | (#42291153)

I don't see anywhere in the article where they don't have enough fuel to escape the moon's gravity.

As usual, reading the actual article (or even the summary, FFS!) is a bit too hard for some.
"Ebb and Flow, the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission probes, are being sent purposely into the lunar surface because their low orbit and low fuel levels preclude further scientific operations."

Crash them for a purpose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42292859)

Why won't crash them for a "lunar explorer" that could be sent like Mars explorer ?
It could be used to get some answers at least ...

OH (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42298837)

If only the zombies at NASA HQ, Goddard, AMES and Johnson could walk the plank into oblivion.

What a wonderful world we would live.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?