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NASA's Curiosity Rover Celebrates One Year On Mars

samzenpus posted about 9 months ago | from the happy-marsday dept.

NASA 69

An anonymous reader writes "The Curiosity rover celebrates one year on Mars today. 'The 1-ton robot has achieved a great deal in its 12 months on Mars, discovering an ancient streambed and gathering enough evidence for mission scientists to declare that the planet could have supported microbial life billions of years ago. And more big finds could be in the offing, as Curiosity is now trekking toward its ultimate science destination: the foothills of a huge and mysterious mountain that preserves, in its many layers, a history of Mars' changing environmental conditions.'"

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69 comments

Obligatory XKCD (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | about 9 months ago | (#44480973)

Now you're making it too easy. And I don't mean 1091.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44481209)

I'll drink to that!!
http://youtu.be/ACgJhE2L7Ms?t=46s

(and I will too)

Spirit's comic was better. (2)

tokiko (560961) | about 9 months ago | (#44482137)

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

And a little sad.

Re:Spirit's comic was better. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44483269)

That guy really needs to pick up some art skills. I've seen kindergarten drawings that looked better.

Re:Spirit's comic was better. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44494323)

i think it's more important that you STFU.

Nerds (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44480987)

I hate all you fucking basement dwelling nerds.

Re:Nerds (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44482171)

I'm living in the attic, you insensitive clod!

Puny Earthlings ! (5, Informative)

mbone (558574) | about 9 months ago | (#44481041)

And your puny terrestrial years! Curiosity has some time (322 of your weak days, or a mere 313 of our superior Martian sols) before it reaches its first Martian birthday.

And, since it is now on Mars, that is clearly the birthday that counts.

Re:Puny Earthlings ! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44482359)

Not to mention there are over three months a day on Mars. I am of course referring to Phobos months, because f*ck Deimos.

Re:Puny Earthlings ! (1)

gomiam (587421) | about 9 months ago | (#44484777)

I suspect Phobos will be fucked earlier: it is expected to collide with Mars or break up into a disk in about 50-100 million years.

Re:Puny Earthlings ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44487133)

It was born on Earth, not Mars. And if you think you have long days, try Mercury.

Obligatory retrospective (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44481055)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkVBXW4JeUI
https://xkcd.com/1091/
http://i.imgur.com/CPk2w.jpg

Re:Obligatory retrospective (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44481807)

Link fail

You == Dumbass

Re:Obligatory retrospective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44483317)

Try using a real browser.

Wrong Anniversary (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44481137)

It was one Earth year. Celebrate the real anniversary when Mars completes its year after another 322 or so Earth days.

Re:Wrong Anniversary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44481359)

Also, it's the wrong weight. Mars' gravity is weaker, about a third of the Earth's; the Rover weighs in around 750 pounds.

Re:Wrong Anniversary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44483319)

Also, Curiosity is a faggot.

Re:Wrong Anniversary (1)

gomiam (587421) | about 9 months ago | (#44484787)

Erm... pounds aren't a weight measure.

Re:Wrong Anniversary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44486771)

Yes they are.

pound [pound]
noun, plural pounds ( collectively ) pound.
1. a unit of weight and of mass, varying in different periods and countries.

Source [reference.com]

pound noun \paund\
plural pounds also pound

Definition of POUND

1: any of various units of mass and weight; specifically : a unit now in general use among English-speaking peoples equal to 16 avoirdupois ounces or 7000 grains or 0.4536 kilogram — see WEIGHT TABLE

Source [merriam-webster.com]

pound
Pronunciation: /pand/

noun
1 (abbreviation: lb) a unit of weight equal to 16 oz. avoirdupois (0.4536 kg), or 12 oz. troy (0.3732 kg).

Source [oxforddictionaries.com]

Re:Wrong Anniversary (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 9 months ago | (#44487643)

Erm... pounds aren't a weight measure.

Ummm, what?

Unless we're talking about the currency, pounds certainly are a weight measure.

Mysterious mountain - layers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44481157)

Mars' history is most definitely NOT preserved in the layers of this mysterious mountain. Plate tectonics ended on Mars billions of years ago, meaning any history since then was not pushed up in mountain ranges.

Re:Mysterious mountain - layers (2)

Stoutlimb (143245) | about 9 months ago | (#44482419)

If you read the TFA, they say this is likely a mountain entirely built up by wind-borne sediment. Assuming they can access various layers of sediment, then yes, it's possible. Even still, the walls of a deep crater do sound like a better candidate to examine rock strata.

Re:Mysterious mountain - layers (1)

Convector (897502) | about 9 months ago | (#44486243)

The lack of plate tectonics is precisely why the history is preserved. Unlike on the Earth, the crust never gets recycled.

Could it be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44481195)

...a huge and mysterious mountain... ... the Mountain of Adventure???

Google 'Enid Blyton' for further details... Ok, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventure_Series#The_Mountain_of_Adventure

So... (3, Funny)

djupedal (584558) | about 9 months ago | (#44481219)

Birthdays for anthropomorphized machines is all they got? Isn't it going to be another year before it gets to where it's headed? Wake me when it finds an ancient civilization - that or a fish head.

Who can convince me it was worth it? (-1, Troll)

bogaboga (793279) | about 9 months ago | (#44481225)

"The Curiosity rover celebrates one year on Mars today.

Question is: Was the cost worth it?

I don't think so. In otherowrds, there's tons of better ways to spend all the billions injected into this project.

Re:Who can convince me it was worth it? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44481327)

In otherowrds, there's tons of better ways to spend all the billions injected into this project.

Such as war.
US defense budget for 2012: $1.030–$1.415 trillion (wikipedia)
NASA budget for 2012: 18.724 billion (wikipedia)
I don't have an exact number, but the Curiosity rover cost about 1.5 billion dollars. I don't know if that is just the rover itself, or the whole operation.

Re:Who can convince me it was worth it? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44481387)

Correction,
The NASA budget i said was for 2010.
2012's NASA budget was 17.770 billion, which is less than half of a percent of the federal budget.

Re:Who can convince me it was worth it? (4, Interesting)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 9 months ago | (#44481717)

The entire mission is cited at about $2.5 billion. The US federal budget for FY2013 calls for over $3.8 trillion in expenditures.

Re:Who can convince me it was worth it? (4, Interesting)

slew (2918) | about 9 months ago | (#44481475)

Was it worth it? Well, just like all government programs intended to employ people, you might judge that the number of people employed vs the money spent.

Basically MSL (aka Curiosity) was the full-employment program for JPL contractors. While everything else was being cut, all the contractors and JPL employees tried to bill as much as possible to this program to avoid redundancies (layoffs). Sadly, these kind of employees tend to be attached to expensive toys which makes the for lower efficiency when judged by the $/employed metric.

FWIW, they at least managed to land to rover on the (martian) ground. In that sense, it probably was better spent than the billons we spend on other employment programs which simply return only employment, or fund things that are actually unused (like bridges to nowhere, or airports with no scheduled flights) or actually unwanted (e.g, F35, MEADS, EFV).

Sadly, it's a pretty low bar when it comes to government spending...

Re:Who can convince me it was worth it? (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 9 months ago | (#44484617)

Well, just like all government programs intended to employ people, you might judge that the number of people employed vs the money spent.

Or judge it by the amazing quantity of good science it's done and the awe inspiring awesomeness of the whole thing. It's a 1 ton robot lowered by a sky crane onto another planet doing science! If you only judge such things by financial metrics then the world looks unbearable grey and dull.

Re:Who can convince me it was worth it? (1)

slew (2918) | about 9 months ago | (#44489227)

Nit alert...

Or judge it by the amazing quantity of good science it's done...

Many people mistake science and technology. *** Sure it was an amazing technical feat of engineering to land something on another planet, but that's not science. Of course there was science too, but that's not what tickles the crowd (yes we're pretty sure there was water on mars is the basic theory we are testing with MSL).

Just like the hoover dam (or the 3 gorges dam) or the various bridges or tall buildings are marvels of technology, and we can choose to spend our money on all sorts of wonders to tickle the mind, but the science aspect of most of that stuff is mostly data gathering and the bulk of the technology is really just applied engineering.

As cost overruns happened and much of the cost of the program can be attributed to keeping quite a few warm bodies fed whilst the engineering aspects of the actuators and the landing system experienced redesign and testing (the grey and dull engineering stuff).

*** I've been a judge at quite a few science fairs and often what passes for science is really just technology demos...

What makes science is theory and experiment and data gathering and analysis.

When technology is passed off as science, it's usually lacking in theory, data gathering and analysis. Also, often the "experiment" usually an exercise in engineering. The hallmark of engineering is applying well known principles and pre-tested components to acheive a systematic result. It generally saddens me when I have to judge a "science" project where someone simply assembles a remote controlled car or airplane and doesn't even understand the principles of radio or flight (which unforutnatly has happened too many times to count).

Re:Who can convince me it was worth it? (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 9 months ago | (#44485003)

It's impossible to know the future value of a project like Curiosity. It would have been like trying to calculate the value of those Apollo mirrors and the extra fuel required to carry them to the surface of the moon back in the 1960s, without any knowledge of how they would be used into the next millennium. Now we use them to assist with climate and ocean models based on the movement and gravitational effects of the moon, for example. I don't know how you even begin to calculate how valuable those are to the US economy as a whole.

Re:Who can convince me it was worth it? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44481505)

Give an example of something that we SHOULD fix first and where the money spent on this project would have really made a huge difference.

While we are at it, we should also remove all forms of art and entertainment until we solve all problems. I am sure we could use hollywood budget for something better than a bunch of crapy movies.

Re:Who can convince me it was worth it? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44481515)

Yes, the cost was worth it.

The acquisition of truth is our only intrinsically meaningful purpose for existing. Everything else is basically just a means to this end, or sheer hedonism.

I am aware of all the usual objections to this statement. They are all bunk.

Re:Who can convince me it was worth it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44481769)

What is and is not meaningful is subjective. Nothing is "intrinsically meaningful."

Re:Who can convince me it was worth it? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44481531)

We spend more on Pizza as a nation and you're asking about priorities? Seriously, the Curiosity budget works out to about $1 per person per year in the U.S.

Re:Who can convince me it was worth it? (2)

Sperbels (1008585) | about 9 months ago | (#44481587)

I don't think so. In otherowrds, there's tons of better ways to spend all the billions injected into this project.

Yes, the better ways seem to be blowing people up, monitoring their communications, and incarcerating the perpetrators of victimless crimes... essentially state sponsored terrorism. Wouldn't want to give any of that money to fund science when we can use it bash peoples heads in, right?

Re:Who can convince me it was worth it? (5, Insightful)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 9 months ago | (#44481707)

In otherowrds, there's tons of better ways to spend all the billions injected into this project.

Yeah, we would probably be better off spending that $2.5 billion on another 8 or 9 days in Afghanistan (at the low, low price of just $300 million per day).

Haha, no, I'm only kidding. Only a complete idiot would think that $2.5 billion (which represents 0.06% of the US federal budget for FY 2013) to send an entire science laboratory to another planet is a waste of money. This country is full of money wasters, ground-breaking science missions are not part of those. Look at the defense budget if you want to talk about trimming the fat, not the science budget. The NSA in particular seems to have quite a lot of money that it doesn't need (or shouldn't be using).

Re:Who can convince me it was worth it? (5, Insightful)

joe_frisch (1366229) | about 9 months ago | (#44481791)

No one can convince you that it was worth it. That really is the problem.

Re:Who can convince me it was worth it? (1)

cavreader (1903280) | about 9 months ago | (#44482483)

It was worth it because the technologies used in this project can be used in other forays into space. Not to mention they can actually deliver computer service packs all the way to Mars. There are people and companies that cannot even install service packs on their local network without breaking a bunch of shit.

time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44481229)

Isn't it all relative to how fast you're moving through space? Isn't Mars moving slower than Earth? Does Curiosity have a clock that counts Earth time? If so, is it keeping the same time as clocks here on Earth are? I know that the satellites orbiting Earth have clocks that are not running at the same speed as the clocks on Earth are, in order to accommodate the need to keep the same time as those on Earth.

Of course maybe it's such a small difference that I sound like an idiot...

Re:time (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about 9 months ago | (#44481315)

Our clocks tick ever so slower than Mars, but only by a negligible amount in terms of counting birthdays. IIRC from a default frame of reference, a clock in a gravitational field will tick slower as the gravitational field increases in strength. And we have Mars beat pretty well in terms of gravity.

Re:time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44481547)

The amounts are infinitesimally small from our perspective. Although Earth's orbital velocity is faster and it has a stronger gravitational field, both working together to slow relativistic time down on Earth ever so slightly when compared to Mars, it has nothing to do with astronomical terms defining a planet's motions when it comes to days or years. In that sense, it's the same.

Re:time (4, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 9 months ago | (#44481635)

Of course maybe it's such a small difference that I sound like an idiot...

relativistic effects of Mars' orbital speed on time passage there : 0.9999999965976668868826947934

relativistic effects of Earth's orbital speed on time passage here : 0.99999999506624037797369889211

Difference between the two : 1.531426508853249e-9

So, a bit less than one second difference every twenty years.

So yep...

Re:time (1)

mbone (558574) | about 9 months ago | (#44482637)

You left out the general relativistic time dilation (mostly due to the Sun's gravity), which is GM/c^2 R. That's OK, so did the Air Force with the first GPS test satellite.

sex with a troolkore (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44481239)

teeth into when noises out of the members all over N3ver heeded about half of the obvious that there To decline for 7oo many rules and All major marketing

how times have changed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44481253)

This reminds me of work. I remember when we all used to talk about 5 or 10yr anniversaries.

Now we're talking 1yr anniversaries. I recall a bunch of employees getting their 1yr anniversary pins as couple of weeks ago, considering I'm a 14yr veteran, and only got a 10yr pin only a few years ago.

Are we there yet? (1)

Valdrax (32670) | about 9 months ago | (#44481343)

They still haven't made it to Mount Sharp? Holy crap, that was their destination from the moment it landed! Apparently, it's only traveled half a mile in a year and its destination is only 5 miles away. And this will take another 9-12 months with sidetrips?

Re:Are we there yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44481415)

You really like italicized text, don't you.

Re:Are we there yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44488745)

Yes!

Re:Are we there yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44481823)

Are you... really complaining about the speed of which a machine we have built and launched into space, then landed on another planet, and now are trying to control remotely, is moving?

Have you ever tried making a phone call in a tunnel?

A year - and no gold (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44481421)

Been a year, and this Curiosity rover hasn't discover gold (AU) or any precious metal?
would we have boom in space exploration, if suddenly NASA rover discover gold or platinum ?

     

Re:A year - and no gold (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44481755)

would we have boom in space exploration, if suddenly NASA rover discover gold or platinum ?

No because the cost to bring a kilo of sand back from Mars would probably be comparable to the cost to bring back a kilo of gold.

Celebration (4, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about 9 months ago | (#44481491)

Curiosity wakes up the next morning with a lampshade on its head and Martian hieroglyphics tattooed on its ass.

Re:Celebration (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44482737)

Curiosity wakes up to find it's frame balanced on a rock with all wheels missing and one hell of a hang-over but still holding an empty can of wd-40 in it's gripper.

It's been there for a year... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44483173)

...and it still hasn't killed a cat?

Nice Self Portrait ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 9 months ago | (#44486321)

... of Curiosity in TFA.

I just wish it would stop referring to itself as Carlos Danger when it posts these.

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