×

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 about 6 months ago | 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 ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

45 comments

Spotted (1)

watcher-rv4 (2712547) | about 6 months ago | (#45074801)

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

Re:Spotted (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45074825)

Soon we will discover if there is indeed water on Chile

Re:Spotted (3, Informative)

Incadenza (560402) | about 6 months ago | (#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 | about 6 months ago | (#45079513)

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

Re:Spotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45084981)

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

Re:Spotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#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 | about 6 months ago | (#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) | about 6 months ago | (#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) | about 6 months ago | (#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) | about 6 months ago | (#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) | about 6 months ago | (#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 | about 6 months ago | (#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? (1)

tedgyz (515156) | about 6 months ago | (#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) | about 6 months ago | (#45075973)

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

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

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 6 months ago | (#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) | about 6 months ago | (#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) | about 6 months ago | (#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) | about 6 months ago | (#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) | about 6 months ago | (#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) | about 6 months ago | (#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) | about 6 months ago | (#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) | about 6 months ago | (#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 | about 6 months ago | (#45079465)

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

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

fuzzywig (208937) | about 6 months ago | (#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 | about 6 months ago | (#45074937)

Our rover's bigger.

Re:Pfft (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 6 months ago | (#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) | about 6 months ago | (#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 | about 6 months ago | (#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?

Sky gives it away (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Incredibly slow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45075939)

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

Antarctica as well (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 6 months ago | (#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 | about 6 months ago | (#45078063)

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

Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#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 | about 6 months ago | (#45081269)

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

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...