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Odyssey Arriving at Mars Tonight

michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the home-from-the-wars dept.

Space 195

moloader writes: "Odyssey will arrive at Mars on October 24, 2001, 0230 Universal Time (October 23, 7:30pm PDT/ 10:30pm EDT). As it nears its closest point to the planet over the northern hemisphere, the spacecraft will fire its 640-newton main engine for approximately 19.7 minutes to allow itself to be captured into an elliptical, or looping, orbit about 20 hours long. Go Mars!"

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I sense a 100% (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465003)

On my calculus quiz today! Oh yeah! Harder! Derivatives! Integrals!

Spectrometer (1)

kochsr (144988) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465005)

I still think it is amazing that they can use a spectrometer from orbit to tell what elements are on the surface of a planet....

Can you imagine (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465006)

a beowulf cluster of these shoved up your rectum?

Pre-Arrival News Conference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465097)

I just watched the 35 minutes long pre-arrival news conference on Nasa TV.

God. If they're going to place people in front of the media, they should at least teach them how to speak properly. All four guys spoke with a strained geek voice that was agony to listen to.

Re:Pre-Arrival News Conference (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465148)

That's probably because they were Slashdot Readers!

Re:Pre-Arrival News Conference (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465157)

They sure looked like Slashdot readers.

Especially Bob the navigation guy.

Yahoo has the sound bites and pictures (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465165)

Yahoo! [yahoo.com] has the sound clips of the conference

hear it and judge for yourself.

Re:Yahoo has the sound bites and pictures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465180)

Well, a realplay video of the conference is available here [nasa.gov] .

Who would you trust (-1)

Mike Hock (249988) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465189)

Yahoo! [yahoo.com] or NASA [nasa.gov] ?

Yahoo has never killed an astronaut!!

Unexpected.. (1)

psavo (162634) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465007)

I bet Homeros didn't expect his Odysseus dude to go that far..

Now here's the ultimate sequel!

Re:Unexpected.. (2)

gerddie (173963) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465042)

And I hope "odyssey" will not end up in a space odyssey.

640 Newtons (4, Funny)

wiredog (43288) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465011)

Should be enough for anybody

Re:640 Newtons (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465032)


Geez, if I had 640 Newtons, I know where I'd be spending the afternoon...

Re:640 Newtons (1)

semaj (172655) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465137)

Actually, the NASA [nasa.gov] page says:

The engine provides 695 newtons, or 156 pounds of thrust.

Weird. I wonder where 640 came from?

Re:640 Newtons (3, Funny)

hawk (1151) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465289)

> Weird. I wonder where 640 came from?


It has tem, but they're not usable. The transmitter is locating after the 640th Newton, and using noncontiguous thrust would put it in a tailspin. So although all 965 are installed, the last 25 aren't useable. (however, there is speculation that it may be possible to make a TSO system: Terminate, Stay in Orbit., to use the extra Newtons. [Failing that, they'll be wrapped in cookies as snacks for the martians.]).


hawk

Re:640 Newtons (4, Funny)

Rocketboy (32971) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465379)

Weird. I wonder where 640 came from?

DOS. NASA's been under a bit of a budget crunch and...

:)

Hope they used the right metric ... (2, Funny)

gerddie (173963) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465012)

... to calculate the point where to fire the engine :-)

Re:Hope they used the right metric ... (5, Funny)

sevensharpnine (231974) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465247)

Easy, 400 leagues over the spot where those three rocks make a small triangle the engine should engage to point the craft down roughly four spans. A few orbits in, the thrusters will be fired to reduce the elliptical orbit by about a thousand rods.

think about it (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465013)

300,000,000 miles is 480,000,000 Km; let's hope they got it right this time :)

Give NASA some respect! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465048)

It's about time you people gave NASA some respect!

They are still the the only organization on Earth to have place man on the moon. They are the only organization that's consistently flying commercial payloads to the orbit.

The "metric mishap" was due to a sub-contractors.

Re:Give NASA some respect! (2, Interesting)

MrFredBloggs (529276) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465184)

"The "metric mishap" was due to a sub-contractors."

What the fuck? Who was in charge of them? Jesus, do you work for them or something? Unbelievable!

Re:Give NASA some respect! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465212)

The reason you employ sub-contractors is that you don't have to do everything, including checkout out their design and calculations, by yourself.

more than just NASA in the history of space.... (2, Informative)

fantomas (94850) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465254)

"They are the only organization that's consistently flying commercial payloads to the orbit. "


Hmmm, I think the guys at ESA may beg to differ. I think the guys on the Space Station are probably grateful that a place a wee distance from the USA called the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan exists and regularly sends up Soyuz taxis. I reckon there's more than just NASA in the history of space.... (not to belittle their great work, but have some perspective, eh?)


BTW is it only the Americans who use imperial rather than metric units, or are there other countries who also use a non-metric measuring system?

Re:more than just NASA in the history of space.... (1)

KenRH (265139) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465287)

The British are still using inches, feet, gallons, punds and so on.

Just to be on the safe side the british gallon is different from the US gallon.

Re:more than just NASA in the history of space.... (1)

Cheesemaker (36551) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465381)

> The British are still using inches, feet, gallons,
> punds and so on.

And most importantly, PINTS!

Re:more than just NASA in the history of space.... (2)

tdye (308813) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465373)

The Irish use both, in a somewhat confusing interchange.

Ex: you can buy a pint of Guinness, or a .5 litre bottle of Coke, but not vice versa. Petrol is sold in litres, but the new car stickers sometimes list miles/gallon for fuel effeciency. Distance from a to b is measured in kilometres, but speed is in miles/hour.

Maybe there were some Irishmen working on the conversion screwup?

Re:think about it (1)

rschwa (89030) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465280)

As long as the martians don't shoot this one down, too...

Truly amazing ! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465014)


how you can waste millions of dollars !

after all these space trips costing trillions
of dollars, how is mankind any better off ?

Re:Truly amazing ! (4, Insightful)

Peter Dyck (201979) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465034)

how is mankind any better off ?

We will know more. That's how.

Knowledge is the only thing that truly separates us from barbarism and animals.

Re:Truly amazing ! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465037)

Suck my teflon coated, microchip-packed, inspiration-to-generations rocket, trollboy.

Re:Truly amazing ! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465125)

All those slashdot posts and what have YOU accomplished. Wait!... We should feed the starving millions so they can make even more millions of idiots who can't irrigate a field. Then when we're all good & fed we can all sit around and pretend it's the 12th centure and wait for the next major natural disaster to wipe us out.

First nigger (-1)

First Nigger (460412) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465023)

Woohoo! I sho' be likin' gettin' first post, boss! Now where be my melon and my chitlins!!? Where my white bitches be!?

We'll See... (1)

Knunov (158076) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465027)

"As it nears its closest point to the planet over the northern hemisphere, the spacecraft will fire its 640-newton main engine for approximately 19.7 minutes to allow itself to be captured into an elliptical, or looping, orbit about 20 hours long."

Or, it will fire its 64.0-newton main engine for approximately 197 minutes to allow itself to slam into the surface at about 20x the speed of sound.

Decimals sure can be a bitch.

Re:We'll See... (0)

jbreker (465039) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465085)

Actually at 64 newtons it would probably just pass mars by. 640 N is needed in order to break its current trajectory and enter into an orbiting trajectory with mars.

Forget the metrics... (1)

Abnornymous Howard (227643) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465028)

Let's hope they set their "universal clock" right... Look for a short, bright light in the sky... :)

Beware reduced visibility! (2, Interesting)

imrdkl (302224) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465030)

The Giant Dust Storm [slashdot.org] currently swirling around could make for some interesting study, anyways.

That is not entirely correct (-1)

Mike Hock (249988) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465173)

The Yahoo! [yahoo.com] shows you why 'that' will be the least of their problems.

Gamma Ray Vision. (2)

twitter (104583) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465200)

Interesting. Pulling predictions from the air, now. IR will get a glimpse of the mineral content of the clouds, and clear areas can be determined from visible images. Gamma and neutron will still be able to see the elements on and below the surface. We shall see what they will see.

Re:Beware reduced visibility! (1)

348 (124012) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465237)

It will take months to fully brake to the right speed, I'm sure the dust storm will have settled by then.

At least now we know what went wrong the first try (3, Funny)

TheMMaster (527904) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465031)

on the mars section of the site : If you want to be a real engineer, set your hands to work on paper models of: Pathfinder Mars Global Surveyor (pdf), and 2001 Mars Odyssey Color or Black-and-White (pdfs) spacecraft.
with these kinds of drafting techniques...

.....And end up crashing... (1)

tonywestonuk (261622) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465035)

... into the far side, as someone at NASA worked somthing out in inches instead of milimeters!!

Seriously, I hope the mission goes as planned, and doesn't circum to the problems that haved dogged missions to Mars in the past!

Tony

Re:.....And end up crashing... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465062)

succumb

Re:.....And end up crashing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465064)

damnDamnDAMN!

What I *meant* to say

<nitpick>succumb</nitpick>

Stupid "Plain Old Text"...

Looping orbits? (2)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465040)

into an elliptical, or looping, orbit about 20 hours long.
Aren't all orbits "looping orbits"? All orbits are elliptical, anyway.

Re:Looping orbits? (3, Informative)

Manhigh (148034) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465063)


Aren't all orbits "looping orbits"? All orbits are elliptical, anyway.


All orbits (about a single body) are conic sections, not necessarily ellipses. Given just barely enough energy to escape the body results in a parabolic orbit, and having excess energy results in a hyperbolic one. If the orbit is 'captured,' it has an elliptical shape.

I agree though, that 'looping' and 'elliptical' shouldnt be used as synonyms.

Hmm.. (3)

onion2k (203094) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465045)

an elliptical, or looping, orbit

All stable orbits are looping. Elliptical just means that it isn't always a uniform distance from the origin of the orbit, in this case, Mars.

Re:Hmm.. (1)

Anarchofascist (4820) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465132)

class Circle extends Ellipse {
...
}

Re:Hmm.. (1)

Yazeran (313637) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465143)

A small correction here, while all closed orbits around an object can be classified as eleptical, not all trajectories arround an object are closed. For a fly-by only, the 'orbit' as seen from the center mass would be a hyperbole.

Also a circular orbit, would not be classified as an eliptic orbit (Although mathematically it can be described as an elipsis with the small axis equal to the long axis).


Yours Yazeran


Plan: To go to Mars one day with a hammer.

Orbit (4, Informative)

standards (461431) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465046)

The real goal is to have the orbiter revolve around the planet every two hours. The rockets will slow the orbiter down to a 20 hour orbit - then, over a period of months, the orbiter will ease into a two hour orbit - thanks to aerobraking.

If all works well, that's what'll make this mission a success - the aerobraking technique means significantly lower fuel requirements, which makes for a lighter and thus less expensive mission.

Let's hope everything works right this time!

Re:Orbit--but what shape? (2)

hawk (1151) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465265)

NASA has already shown a variety of orbits for martian probes, not feeling obligated to stay with the traditional elliptical orbit, or the one-tyme hyperbolic "orbit" used with the outer planets. The last two were parabolic. What will this one be--they're running out of conic sections to choose from . .


:)


hawk

Be careful (1, Funny)

91degrees (207121) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465047)

We already know that there's water on Mars, and if there is water then there must also be air. If there is air, this suggests that there must be life on the Red planet.


By flying all these spacecraft into Mars, we may be destroying their ecosystem, and future generations of Nartian aliens may well have an issue with us violating their airspace, and they may well retaliate, or at least prosecute. Perhaps we should ask before sending these probes

Re:Be careful (5, Informative)

Iron Sun (227218) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465070)

We already know that there's water on Mars

Actually, we don't, that's one of the things this probe has been sent to determine. There is an ambiguous but intriguing body of evidence that liquid water may once have flowed on Mars' surface, but what water remains is yet to be determined.

and if there is water then there must also be air

We have known for some considerable time that Mars has a very thin atmosphere composed primarily of carbon dioxide. It is less than 1% as thick as Earth's atmosphere.

If there is air, this suggests that there must be life on the Red planet.

Your chain of reasoning is getting increasingly tenuous.

By flying all these spacecraft into Mars, we may be destroying their ecosystem

Odyssey is an orbiter, not a lander. It will never come in contact with the planet. Even if the worst happens, like it did with Mars Climate Orbiter in 1999, the thin Martian atmosphere is still thick enough to ensure that nothing uncharred reaches the surface. All landers are thoroughly sterilized before leaving Earth.

Re:Be careful (2, Interesting)

lkaos (187507) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465130)

I would also have to dispute the statement that if their is water, their has to be air. Almost all planets have some sort of atmosphere. The existance of water has absolutely nothing to do with atmosphere. The chances of their being life currently on Mars (atleast, in the form that we know it) would most likely only be bacterial reemains from a prior time period considering that the equators of Mars only reach a high temp of somewhere around 0C. Without liquid water (which there surely, isn't on Mars), then their is very little chance for life.

I do believe though that out of respect, we shouldn't litter the planet with all sorts of robots and stuff... If there is no other way though, then oh well.

Re:Be careful (4, Funny)

mrbuckles (201938) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465183)

We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If oxygen, that means we can breathe.

-- Dan Quayle


Perhaps we've deduced the source of the original post?

I admit it. (0, Offtopic)

91degrees (207121) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465285)

It was blatant Quayle plagarism. Well spotted.

Re:Be careful (1)

Planetes (6649) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465207)

and if there is water then there must also be air

We have known for some considerable time that Mars has a very thin atmosphere composed primarily of carbon dioxide. It is less than 1% as thick as Earth's atmosphere.

There is actually an even better example of the flaw in that log. Europa. Liquid ocean (probably) with 0 (zero) atmosphere. There is absolutely no requirement that a liquid water environment have an atmosphere. In Europa's case, the ice cap is preventing the lower ocean from freezing or boiling off.

Re:Be careful (1)

cholokoy (265199) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465238)

Funny some people could easily extend and exagerate the information and make it look as if they are facts.

Lucky there are others who know otherwise.

Re:Be careful (1)

justletmeinnow (315504) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465076)

Send a probe with a note attached asking if we can send a probe, or maybe just a little picture of tux so they'll know we come in peace and want to work togeter!

Re:Be careful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465089)

"We already know that there's water on Mars, and if there is water then there must also be air. If there is air, this suggests that there must be life on the Red planet.'

You're logic is flawed.
Yes. There is water on mars.

"...if there is water then there must also be air.'... okay... wtf?

As for the life thing....
Why are any of the above reasons for life?

Air and water _MAY_ be sufficient to sustain martian life, but certainly the existance of them certainly does not prove the existance of martian life.

About the dust storm (2, Informative)

dbolger (161340) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465050)

I wonder how the global dust storm [slashdot.org] on Mars is going to effect the Odyssey's gamma ray spectrometer [nasa.gov] and other systems. It'd be an aweful pitty to go all that way just to find out you've got an obstructed view :\

Re:About the dust storm (1)

Anarchofascist (4820) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465142)

The storm's been running for a couple of months now, but it's still going to be a few more months before the orbit has been stabilised through aerobraking. Think february next year.

Who cares about water ??? (1)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465057)

I want to know about LIFE !!!

Land a fscking probe there and tell me if there's life or not.

Damn it, man. US send a bunch of probes to mars in the 70's, with computers 1000 less powerfull than a PS2. why we can't do it again now ???

Re:Who cares about water ??? (2)

dbolger (161340) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465066)

A PS2? try 1000 times less powerful than my wristwatch.

Life cares about water (2, Informative)

Iron Sun (227218) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465082)

Learning where the water is is a necessary prerequisite to finding what life may still exist. If there is life still there, it will be close to water. Water is easier to find that scant traces of life. Therefore, find the H2O, and you actually have a chance of finding something else.

NASA sent only two probes to Mars in the 70's, Viking 1 & 2. It has firm plans to send at least one probe every two years until at least the end of the decade. Considering the budget they operate within, I think they're doing a damn good job.

Infamous Martian defence force (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465194)

I want to know about LIFE !!!

Don't forget about the infamous Martian Defence Force. [8k.com] These guys are sure be up for some more target practice.

orbit about 20 hours long? (1)

jason99si (131298) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465060)

Even Arnold knows that when you go to Mars.. you are supposed to be staying .. "TWO WEEKS".

Re:orbit about 20 hours long? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465068)

"Get your ass to Mars"

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Ross_f (229464) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465061)

first post ooooh yeah the rossman is good.

Re:first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465086)

You're like almost 30 minutes late. What kind of drugs are you on???

Osama (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465079)

I heard on CNN today that our ground troups over in Afghanastan have surrounded Osama Bin Laden within a 20 mile by 20 mile area. Unfortunately it's impossible to seal the area completely so escape would be possible.

Is it any coincidence that this even occured around the same time the Mars orbiter is comming into Mars orbit, I think not.

Re:Osama (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465109)

I heard on CNN today that our ground troups over in Afghanastan have surrounded Osama Bin Laden within a 20 mile by 20 mile area. Unfortunately it's impossible to seal the area completely so escape would be possible.

Afghanastan is about 650,000 sq. kilometers, which is slightly larger than the state of Texas. So the country really isn't all that big.

Re:Osama (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465126)

I heard on CNN today that our ground troups over in Afghanastan have surrounded Osama Bin Laden within a 20 mile by 20 mile area. Unfortunately it's impossible to seal the area completely so escape would be possible.

Afghanastan is about 650,000 sq. kilometers, which is slightly larger than the state of Texas. So the country really isn't all that big.


I hope they capture him alive and bring him back to the United States for trial so all Americans can sit and watch his ugly mug on T.V. day after day ... see what a pussy he really is... all chained up in hand and leg cuffs... wearing a bright orange jump suit. If they ever do put in him in jail, he's going to be raped in the ass and tortured to death. Like Jeffrey Dahlmer.

Re:Osama (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465141)

he's going to be raped in the ass and tortured to death. Like Jeffrey Dahlmer.

What do you mean?

If someone gets raped in the ass and tortured to death in our prisons, the media should react and further steps should be taken to prevent this kind of insanity.

Re:Osama (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465149)

he's going to be raped in the ass and tortured to death. Like Jeffrey Dahlmer.

What do you mean?

If someone gets raped in the ass and tortured to death in our prisons, the media should react and further steps should be taken to prevent this kind of insanity.


Psh ... no one gave a crap out that psycho serial killer faggot who ate other humans... and definately no is going to care about this Islamic psycho faggot who murdered thousands of Americans... Hell, they could have is execution held at the Super Bowl and put it on Pay Per View T.V... they'd make millions.

Re:Osama (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465187)

No way! One tiem my cousin was put in jail for steeling a cattle and they beat him up and raped him in the ass and made him dead and I think he deserved it because it was daddys cattle that he did steel.

Re:Osama (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465122)

Is it any coincidence that this even occured around the same time the Mars orbiter is comming into Mars orbit, I think not. Huh?

I don't get it. What's the connection?

Anyway, my karma just reached 50. What happens now?

Re:Osama (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465134)

Is it any coincidence that this even occured around the same time the Mars orbiter is comming into Mars orbit, I think not.

Huh?
I don't get it. What's the connection?


Hmmm... maybe he's suggesting that the alleged Mars orbiter is really a spy satellite around the Earth?

Hmmm, wait! It's closer to Jupiter! (0, Redundant)

Typingsux (65623) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465087)

"What happened?"
"You used miles. It's kilometers you idiot!"

Re:Hmmm, wait! It's closer to Jupiter! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465090)

"What happened?"
"You used miles. It's kilometers you idiot!"


I know it's suppose to be funny but... even if they did use miles instead of kilometers, it wouldn't be even remotely close to Jupiter.

Re:Hmmm, wait! It's closer to Jupiter! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465182)

H0 H0 H0! Good one! How bout reading the previous 30 "miles/km" super humor posts.

Far out (literaly!) (5, Insightful)

zensonic (82242) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465095)


Since space radiation presents an extreme hazard to crews of interplanetary missions, the experiment will attempt to predict anticipated radiation doses that would be experienced by future astronauts and help determine possible effects of Martian radiation on human


You have to give NASA credit for thinking far ahead. I'm not that optimistic about space exploration. We need some major breaktroughs in order to get further away from the moon.

First theres the problem with the propulsion system: we're simply not fast enough in our spaceships. In order to get anywhere we need to approach the speed of light or even exceed it (or better yet, make the whole thing about space/time irrelevant, but that is sci-fi for the time being)

Second humans are really not meant to be put in space. We need to adapt, and we need to adapt in a serious way. Most of our body is made up of this little molecule H2O, and we need lots of it to survive. Water is not easy to get in space! Food is another problem. Another is that the human bonestructure degenerates in space (it wouldn't be smart spending billions on spaceexploration just to make astronauts land on mars realizing that they have become crippled in the meantime. We can minimize the effect of zero gravity but the problem remains.

I dream of space too (wonder if all people does in a way). Just can't see how we're going to get there. What bothers me the most are that I don't find much evidence either, of breakthrough technologies that will make humans able to explore space by them self in my lifetime. Pitty really, it's just not the same wathing a robot land somewhere doing the exploration for us! (well maybe for the guy controlling the robot :)

Re:Far out (literaly!) (2, Informative)

Iron Sun (227218) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465139)

In order to get anywhere we need to approach the speed of light or even exceed it (or better yet, make the whole thing about space/time irrelevant, but that is sci-fi for the time being)

You ain't just whistling Dixie when you say it's science fiction. The fastest propulsion system proposed that we're fairly sure would work is Orion, which uses a chain of mini atomic bombs to get to 10% of c. Don't even think about trying to build it with todays technology. Anything else is currently just fantasy.

We don't need to get close to the speed of light for travel within the inner Solar System. If NASA felt that public opinion would tolerate it, they could use nuclear rockets, in which an atomic reactor was used to accelerate the fuel. That is the technology, which we could start building today, that will make travel to and from Mars feasible. We are not, in my opinion, going to get to Mars with conventional rockets.

sh*t happens (1, Funny)

033A (530670) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465096)

too bad, it missed Mars and soon arrives at Pluto as we can see here [nasa.gov] ... how could that happen? Dont they look at their own web pages?

Re:sh*t happens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465099)

too bad, it missed Mars and soon arrives at Pluto

Soon? It would take an additional 14 years to get to Pluto...

Re:sh*t happens (2)

Performer Guy (69820) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465114)

That's Mars you idiot. Pluto is just a spec in the distance, it has a label which you are incorrectly associating with the big Mars like circle that also happens to be Mars.

Go Mars!? (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465102)

Are you cheering on the planet? If Odyssey and Mars were to collide, I'd put my money on the planet too. Or maybe that's a vacation slogan?

Ah, I remember the long nights of SimEarth, working to terraform Mars into a habitable environment with carbon dioxide and water vapor generators... then getting bored and flinging a couple of ice comets at it -- accompanied by the terrible Sound Blaster MIDI sound FX -- and then finally overdoing it and creating a planetwide ocean. I wonder what approach NASA is planning to take?

Too bad that game didn't have an option to make sentient rocks...

Re:Go Mars!? (2)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465317)

yeah, for all its flaws, I really liked SimEarth. It was different enough from Populous, Civ, etc. that it was very enjoyable. Still have the floppies around somewhere... mebbe it's time to get Dosemu working again...

-l

Martians will shoot it down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465104)

The martians may shoot it down, they get pissed when we enter there air space.

Commander Taco (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465107)

Ok about the -1 for AC filtering.
But how about an option to view the comments in reverse scores. For example, i 'd like to read only -1 posts and the rest to be beneath my threshold.

Huh taco? Or did you forget which was the first troll in the history of slashdot?

like I care....

Re:Commander Taco (0, Offtopic)

348 (124012) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465215)

LOL, actually it was Taco himself. When he wrote the infamous First Post Script. But that aside, it would have to be Signal 11.

What it's doing there (5, Informative)

Anarchofascist (4820) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465120)

Took me a while to work out why they needed another mars probe orbiting the planet when they've still got a perfectly good probe doing a two metre resolution map of the entire surface. The answer is twofold:

High Res Spectrometers
This baby has two spectrometers, one in infrared for working out the mineral composition of the surface to a resolution of 100 metres [nasa.gov] , and one in gamma rays, for working out how much hydrogen there is near the surface [nasa.gov] , and consequently how much rocket fuel they can make in different places if/when they land.

Comms satellite It acts as a relay between the surface and the Earth, so any new probes (like the twin rovers due to take off next year) wont have to carry big dishes and radios.

All this and more on the website [nasa.gov] .

Are you sure it's 640 Newtons (1)

tangent3 (449222) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465138)

And not 640 pounds-force?

fun (1)

flok (24996) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465153)

wouldn't it be fun, just for the fun, to have a little Linux-box serving a webcam on mars? complete with an ip-number and http-server and all.
that would be pretty cool

Re:fun (1)

robot_guy (153233) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465227)

I think that most systems would reject a TCP/IP packet from Mars [tuxedo.org] . On a more serious note, I have this feeling that TCP/IP would really suck over that sort of distance (given the round trip time). It's a long time since I did the theory but I'm sure there enough problems using it over a satellite link, let alone an interplanetary link. You would need to tunnel it over a new protocol at the least.

Re:fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465249)

No. I don't think it would be fun.
It would take that long just to get the data for one frame to get from Mars to Earth that it would be like waiting days to see several pixels of data to come up. A whole frame... that would be fun.. as paint drying..

how many days (or weeks, or months) would it take for the first frame just to reach us by radio wave anyways? And what would you use to power this little Linux box? I don't think that the little martian-penguins on Mars will find it funny to see a mini tux nuclear generator, generating power for 15 years worth of linux box frame grabbing.

fun indeed.

Dust Storm (3, Interesting)

msheppard (150231) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465171)

The Dust Storm [nasa.gov] which can dramatically change the height and density of the atmosphere, are a particular concern during aerobraking.

A great article on the whole procedure is at this link [nasa.gov] .

Re:Dust Storm (1)

cholokoy (265199) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465263)

There are just a multitude of variables that need to be considered to successfully put this satellite into orbit. What complicates this is that it will take some time between sending a command and the actual feedback on what happens to reach earth due to the distance involved.

Amazing though that with computers and robotics, a lot of these are being automated so that mission controllers only need to make small changes.

Careful Nasy (1)

MouseR (3264) | more than 12 years ago | (#2465325)

<jarjar>
Did he crash it?
</jarjar>

Will this one survive? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2465338)

We keep sending those probes, and the Martians keep shooting them down ...
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