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!

ESA Begins Mars Rover Tests In Chile

Soulskill posted 1 year,12 days | from the will-they-find-water?! dept.

Mars 45

Zothecula writes "The Atacama desert in Chile is so dry that parts of it are utterly devoid of life down to bacteria. That and its sandy, rock-strewn terrain makes it so similar to Mars that it's a perfect spot for ESA to trial its Sample Acquisition Field Experiment with a Rover (SAFER), which this week is carrying out tests related to navigation, remote control and the use of scientific instruments. The agency's goal is the latest in a series of tests to develop technologies and gain practical experience in anticipation of ESA's launch of the ExoMars rover to the Red Planet in 2018."

cancel ×

45 comments

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

Spotted (1)

watcher-rv4 (2712547) | 1 year,12 days | (#45074801)

Soon, on YouTube, a nerd will make a video comparing NASA Mars videos with videos from Chile.

Re:Spotted (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45074825)

Soon we will discover if there is indeed water on Chile

Re:Spotted (3, Informative)

Incadenza (560402) | 1 year,12 days | (#45075795)

I know you are joking, but there is plenty of water in the Atacama: rivers that originate in the Andes [wikipedia.org] . They either flow out in the sea (through canyons), in salt pans, or sometimes through a tube to the coastal towns.

Re:Spotted (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45079513)

If you knew he was joking, then why go on to tell him what he presumably already knows?

Re:Spotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45084981)

I'll take that downmod as an admission that I raised a valid point.

Re:Spotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45079451)

Soon we will discover if there is indeed water on Chile

Cheap chili has water in it, I prefer beans and olives (the stuffed kind). I would like to see a rover on a nice goulash.

I sell these for $500 (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45074821)

you can control them anywhere you get any sort of cell phone reception, even horrible. I gave one to the Kerbal Space Program guys even. www.f3.to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQYQWzRYJJs

Why not just do it indoors? (2)

Russ1642 (1087959) | 1 year,12 days | (#45074847)

The Atacama is pretty inhospitable, especially for people trying to run these tests. They could recreate the conditions in a large indoor lab easily enough. All you need is rocks, sand, fans, and some dehumidifiers. I don't really get why they need to go to the Atacama.

Re:Why not just do it indoors? (2)

iggymanz (596061) | 1 year,12 days | (#45074895)

the terrain of indoor simulation would be small in extents and totally predictable. the 600 square miles of the Atacama doesn't have either problem

Re:Why not just do it indoors? (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | 1 year,12 days | (#45074963)

The rovers are painfully slow. They don't need 600 square miles to test them unless the tests last fifty years.

Re:Why not just do it indoors? (4, Informative)

iggymanz (596061) | 1 year,12 days | (#45074987)

heh, it's 600 miles long actually, 41,000 square miles.

but you could drop them off in one place to test in sandy soil, another for small pebbles, another for large rocks, small hills, large hills, etc.

much more than you can do in a room

Re:Why not just do it indoors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45077967)

You know. In the Atacama desert someone can pick up and move the rover from 1 test point to the next. Right?

Re:Why not just do it indoors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45074981)

Square units

41,000 square miles.

Re:Why not just do it indoors? (1)

iggymanz (596061) | 1 year,12 days | (#45075009)

correct, it's 600 miles long

Re:Why not just do it indoors? (1)

tedgyz (515156) | 1 year,12 days | (#45075169)

the terrain of indoor simulation would be small in extents and totally predictable. the 600 square miles of the Atacama doesn't have either problem

To your point, we need the unpredictable variables. An indoor experiment would have too much control. In fact they have probably already done that.

For example: Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! [youtube.com]

Re:Why not just do it indoors? (1)

sconeu (64226) | 1 year,12 days | (#45075973)

Are you saying that the Spanish Inquisition is hiding in the Atacama?

Re:Why not just do it indoors? (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | 1 year,12 days | (#45074997)

I wonder what the price tag is to fill a large indoor space with enough sand for a good test. Don't forget we also need to pay for damage to the building from blowing sand everywhere and heating it up to uncomfortable temperatures. Then there's the price to clean it all back out for the next project.

Compare that to some airfare, shipping, and sunscreen.

Re:Why not just do it indoors? (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | 1 year,12 days | (#45075031)

They'll be testing mars rovers for decades. Something the size of a football field (a standard unit of measurement in the States) would be fine and the cost wouldn't be prohibitive.

Re:Why not just do it indoors? (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | 1 year,12 days | (#45075101)

"They" are many different teams in many different places around the world, so they'll almost all be traveling anyway. Dumping a pile of sand in a building is just an unnecessary expense for no real benefit.

Re:Why not just do it indoors? (4, Insightful)

cusco (717999) | 1 year,12 days | (#45075297)

Fill a building in California with sand and it's rapidly going to be full of microorganisms, even if you bake the dirt first. They fed dirt from the Atacama to the Viking lander that was kept on Earth, and it didn't find life.

Fill a building with rocks and sand and it's all fluffy and aerated. Ground textures are nothing like real-world terrain. Hills can only be a few meters tall and steep slopes are very difficult to build without additives.

That's just off the top of my head, I'm sure there are more reasons.

Re:Why not just do it indoors? (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | 1 year,12 days | (#45075705)

The main reason is that the team members like Chilean food. And it's hard to test the rover's Alpaca spit shield in an indoor test facility.

Re: those spitty alpacas (1)

macraig (621737) | 1 year,12 days | (#45076997)

Those Martian alpacas are mean buggers, aren't they? They'd just as soon spit on you as give your rover the time of day.

Re:Why not just do it indoors? (1)

mapuche (41699) | 1 year,12 days | (#45077389)

"The Atacama is pretty inhospitable"

No it isn't. Atacama desert has considerable amount of wild life, mine workers and tourists. I've been there as a back packer, and you can live there for a few weeks without problems in a shoestring budget.

Re:Why not just do it indoors? (1)

cusco (717999) | 1 year,12 days | (#45079407)

Depends on where in the Atacama you are. Some places don't even have microorganisms, where it hasn't really rained since the end of the ice age.

Re:Why not just do it indoors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45079465)

If they're rovers, the scientists could operate them in Chile from Europe...

Re:Why not just do it indoors? (1)

fuzzywig (208937) | 1 year,12 days | (#45079777)

Which is exactly what they're going to do. (Although they do have a human on hand to operate the sample drill, I guess that instrument wasn't ready in time to go out to Chile)

Pfft (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45074937)

Our rover's bigger.

Re:Pfft (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | 1 year,12 days | (#45075055)

Kerbal Space Program has taught me one thing well: Big rovers are ridiculously hard to put anywhere other than "just left of the launchpad".

Advice for other KSP players: A 650-ton rover is not a good idea. Funny, perhaps, but not good.

Re:Pfft (1)

Tablizer (95088) | 1 year,12 days | (#45076521)

It's not the size, but what you do with it. If they prove life on Mars, then ours will feel really puny.

Re:Pfft (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45078943)

Why not build the rover that contaminates Mars? History books will pretty much forget about all other rovers.

Re:Pfft (1)

Tablizer (95088) | 1 year,10 days | (#45098655)

It appears the Soviets already did that.

Re:Pfft (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45078839)

Our rover's bigger.

The only way to settle which is better is to record the next season of Robot Wars on Mars. NASA's got a pretty funky laser as a special weapon, what has ESA got?

Re:Pfft (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | 1 year,11 days | (#45081503)

Well, from reading the comments here, I've determined that it has a drill (which has to be operated manually.)

Sky gives it away (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45075191)

Just paint the sky brownish, and you have a rover on mars!! Even humans for that matter.

Seriously the video looks exactly the same, same rocks, same soil... I bet there is less water at the Atacama desert than on mars surface.

DON'T go to REKALL, they'll ruin your mind. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45075359)

Incredibly slow (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45075939)

A suicidal quad bike douche could cover more ground in mars in just one day than these tiny toys.

knock-off (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | 1 year,12 days | (#45076053)

if you looked at it, you are thinking the same thing i am: this [esa.int] rover [esa.int] is a knock-off of our previous [proftec.com] rover model. [ddmcdn.com]

also, ours is bigger [usatoday.net] than yours. [wordpress.com]

That's fast! (1)

amightywind (691887) | 1 year,12 days | (#45076879)

2018? That's only one year later than our 2nd(!) nuclear powered rover. Keep tryin' fellas.

Antarctica as well (1)

WindBourne (631190) | 1 year,12 days | (#45076881)

They should put this in Antarctica for a time during the winter. Mars will get much colder than Antarctica, so, it is at least better than Chile's desert.

mod Nup (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#45078063)

to have regular b^een sitting here In the sun. In the

I sell these for $500 (1)

spiritplumber (1944222) | 1 year,12 days | (#45079121)

you can control them anywhere you get any sort of cell phone reception, even horrible. I gave one to the Kerbal Space Program guys even. www.f3.to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQYQWzRYJJs [youtube.com]

Re:I sell these for $500 (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | 1 year,11 days | (#45080429)

I don't even want to know what kind of roaming charges you'd be racking up on Mars.

Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45080413)

I heard that's where NASA faked all the successful Mars Rover landings.

(The faked moon landing, ironically, was actually produced on Mars.)

Not the Entertainment Software Agency (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45081269)

I mean, unless I'm really missing something...
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?