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Mars Flier Prototype

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the add-paperclip-on-nose-for-stability dept.

Space 99

SEWilco writes "BBC News reports that a full-scale prototype of a Mars flier will be built. The ARES glider will unfold in midair for a mission which may cover 850 km (528 miles). I wonder if its huge wings would allow it to be tossed back in the air by a storm in that thin air, although probably not by "winds of a few m/sec"."

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fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977467)

fuck the cslib menace

Re:fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977741)

FRIST REPLY!!!1

Four (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977474)

Fourth Post!!

Re:Four (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977542)

You fail even that. FAILURE!!!

Ummm.... (-1, Offtopic)

christurkel (520220) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977475)

Could we have made that flag on the flier any bigger? I mean, after all those probes we sent to Mars, the Martians should be able to recognize our flag by now!

You Amateur. (-1, Troll)

big_groo (237634) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977575)

This is how it's done.

Cmdr Taco, while mastu__ating at his computer again spews
vast amounts of _ jiz( ) al__over t____ posting. Really it is
a sick thing to( ) if \ ( a( \ ( ) Hemos was sucking and
sucking for al__)\wa __) \rt) (ly __) / in and out and in and
up su__g s__( (__/ )( \ ( )Taco's ass. Then who walks
in th( \d( (__) (n ) \bu_ Coyboy 'Fatfuck' Neil.
the IS) \t) )/ )( )se spews subscribers
who_s(__ ' (_/(__ be___ior.
(_) __) MALDA JIZZ ) ( )
if yo(___ _ /m t) )
( ___ ____/ )) (__/
spew_(\ta) _ (t a) __ ____ __)s _o( \_came the KKK/Gestapo
of (___)(_/r) \T( (ar\ (imin)( co_/ )r\__)with no face, and
unlimited p(_____)t\ey) ( __) t/ /se( (_up to be the judge, jury,
and executio_er. In )(eir\ (urt,(_/u ar) )lty by association,
guilty unti(_)roven(__)oc( ) b_t then(___/l punished even though
you ARE innocent. )/ (_)
Sadly, Mr. Torvallieds gave in to the homo-erotic urges he had been
having whilst thinking of Taco and Hemos gang-banging Mr Neil. You
see, this is how the Taco jizz ended up all over this P15t fR05t

Re:You Amateur. (-1, Offtopic)

big_groo (237634) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977596)

Cmdr Taco, while mastu__ating at his computer again spews
vast amounts of _ jiz( ) al__over t____ posting. Really it is
a sick thing to( ) if \ ( a( \ ( ) Hemos was sucking and
sucking for al__)\wa __) \rt) (ly __) / in and out and in and
up su__g s__( (__/ )( \ ( )Taco's ass. Then who walks
in th( \d( (__) (n ) \bu_ Coyboy 'Fatfuck' Neil.
the IS) \t) )/ )( )se spews subscribers
who_s(__ ' (_/(__ be___ior.
(_) __) TACO JIZZ ) ( )
if yo(___ _ /m t) )
( ___ ____/ )) (__/
spew_(\ta) _ (t a) __ ____ __)s _o( \_came the KKK/Gestapo
of (___)(_/r) \T( (ar\ (imin)( co_/ )r\__)with no face, and
unlimited p(_____)t\ey) ( __) t/ /se( (_up to be the judge, jury,
and executio_er. In )(eir\ (urt,(_/u ar) )lty by association,
guilty unti(_)roven(__)oc( ) b_t then(___/l punished even though
you ARE innocent. )/ (_)
Sadly, Mr. Torvallieds gave in to the homo-erotic urges he had been
having whilst thinking of Taco and Hemos gang-banging Mr Neil. You
see, this is how the Taco jizz ended up all over this P15t fR05t

Re:You Amateur. (-1, Troll)

big_groo (237634) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977608)

Cmdr Taco, while mastu__ating at his computer again spews
vast amounts of _ jiz( ) al__over t____ posting. Really it is
a sick thing to( ) if \ ( a( \ ( ) Hemos was sucking and
sucking for al__)\wa __) \rt) (ly __) / in and out and in and
up su__g s__( (__/ )( \ ( )Taco's ass. Then who walks
in th( \d( (__) (n ) \bu_ Coyboy 'Fatfuck' Neil.
the IS) \t) )/ )( )se spews subscribers
who_s(__ ' (_/(__ be___ior.
(_) __) TACO JIZZ ) ( )
if yo(___ _ /m t) )
( ___ ____/ )) (__/
spew_(\ta) _ (t a) __ ____ __)s _o( \_came the KKK/Gestapo
of (___)(_/r) \T( (ar\ (imin)( co_/ )r\__)with no face, and
unlimited p(_____)t\ey) ( __) t/ /se( (_up to be the judge, jury,
and executio_er. In )(eir\ (urt,(_/u ar) )lty by association,
guilty unti(_)roven(__)oc( ) b_t then(___/l punished even though
you ARE innocent. )/ (_)
Sadly, Mr. Torvallieds gave in to the homo-erotic urges he had been
having whilst thinking of Taco and Hemos gang-banging Mr Neil. You
see, this is how the Taco jizz ended up all over this P15t fR05t

Keep those mod points coming....it's KarmaBurnFriday!!

Re:You Amateur. (-1, Offtopic)

CausticWindow (632215) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977679)

Torvallieds

Morron, it is Torvalds.

Please refrain from wasting mod points in the future.

Re:You Amateur. (1)

big_groo (237634) | more than 11 years ago | (#5992132)

Moron, it's 'moron' [reference.com] .

Re:You Amateur. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977624)

Hmm.... taco and malda jizz have exactly the same area coverage. How do you ever tell them apart?

Re:Ummm.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977693)

So true...

Slightly offtopic (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977487)

*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_
g_______________________________________________g_ _
o_/_____\_____________\____________/____\_______o_ _
a|_______|_____________\__________|______|______a_ _
t|_______`._____________|_________|_______:_____t_ _
s`________|_____________|________\|_______|_____s_ _
e_\_______|_/_______/__\\\___--___\\_______:____e_ _
x__\______\/____--~~__________~--__|_\_____|____x_ _
*___\______\_-~____________________~-_\____|____*_ _
g____\______\_________.--------.______\|___|____g_ _
o______\_____\______//_________(_(__>__\___|____o_ _
a_______\___.__C____)_________(_(____>__|__/____a_ _
t_______/\_|___C_____)/______\_(_____>__|_/_____t_ _
s______/_/\|___C_____)__FP?__|__(___>___/__\____s_ _
e_____|___(____C_____)\______/__//__/_/_____\___e_ _
x_____|____\__|_____\\_________//_(__/_______|__x_ _
*____|_\____\____)___`----___--'_____________|__*_ _
g____|__\______________\_______/____________/_|_g_ _
o___|______________/____|_____|__\____________|_o_ _
a___|_____________|____/_______\__\___________|_a_ _
t___|__________/_/____|_________|__\___________|t_ _
s___|_________/_/______\__/\___/____|__________|s_ _
e__|_________/_/________|____|_______|_________|e_ _
x__|__________|_________|____|_______|_________|x_ _
*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_e_x_*_


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Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Like last time.... (-1, Troll)

Ramen Noodles (574770) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977497)

Boom...hits the planet!

http://www.matrix4.net (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977504)

Please take a view of http://www.matrix4.net to learn how we exist in a computer with system management. Remember - there was no ancient history of UFO's 1000's of years ago, so now the system is being managed on a higher degree instead of running on idle to create an eternal life effect for the planet.

Believe in yourself and nothing else, instead of fiction - like religion or music or news (which is based on stories such as news stories) or peoples statements which are fictitious in the sense of being influxed with fiction. With this being stated - reality is obviously fiction.

http://www.matrix4.net

Re:http://www.matrix4.net (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977640)

One question on your rant:

Now: for my main introduction, these people that have read the newsgroups which were heavily cross-posted by me saw what I wrote about the reality that we live within. Within the past 3 weeks, I have already had 5 new recruits that have been forwarded to me and 4 of which I have acquired into the Matrix 4 network (these people being Amy, Chrystal, Marie and Angel - all of which are extremely sexy).

I have some advice:

  • What happened to the 5th, not sexy enough?
  • Its kind of dumb to post links on your little website to "file://c/...", cause it only works for you, do you understand how computers work? Since you understand the 'matrix' shouldnt you understand basic HTML?
  • You couldnt even think of an original name? Had to steal the movie name?
  • Stop using X when playing with your mom's computer, you might get her banned from AOL


Here we go (1, Funny)

Manhigh (148034) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977513)

Insert token wisecrack about English/Metric conversion here

Re:Here we go (1)

homebru (57152) | more than 11 years ago | (#5980136)

1 m/s ~= 197 ft/s

Video of demonstrator flight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5981855)

You can get a video of the demonstrator flight at the links below. The camera is in the tail which starts off folded so its looking up at the weather baloon. You can see the release, the wings unfold, and then pull out of the dive.

http://www.athenati.com/frameVideo.html
http:// www.aurora.aero/news.html#marsflyer2

USA leads the world in technological advancements (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977520)

You don't see some eurofag color painted on that flier, do you?

Link to ARES (1, Informative)

spumoni_fettuccini (668603) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977521)

Go here [nasa.gov] for the ARES website itself

Re:Link to ARES (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977562)

Wait a minute...that's the same link from the article! Guess the moderators don't check out links before assigning a +1 Insightful

Re:Link to ARES (1)

spumoni_fettuccini (668603) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977587)

To AC: Yeah I f'ed up I swear I didn't see it Just the other two links sorry Damn those 13 hour days... I obviously need sleep goodnight all

Re:Link to ARES (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977636)

Hey spumoni fettuccini...its the same AC who replied to you...I wouldn't call it f'ed up, you got a Score:5 Informative. =)

great concept (2, Funny)

The Tyro (247333) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977567)

seems like a great idea, and a superb way to survey more of the mars surface.

Let's face it, satellites only get you so much resolution (look at the recent US military campaign)... drones and gliders have the potential to give us better pictures.

I just hope they do some rarefied atmosphere wind-tunnel testing; would be embarassing to have this thing plunge to the surface because someone was expecting an earthlike atmosphere...

Yeah, yeah, I know they'll test for it... but after that supposed metric/english conversion error... really makes you want to micromanage.

Re:great concept (2)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 11 years ago | (#5978884)

Look a little further on the project's web site and you'll see pictures of a high-altitude drop test. The craft unfolded wings and flew in Mars-density air and at the expected speed. The parachute landings also have given NASA some confirmation of how the Mars atmosphere behaves in airflow situations (something a little different than figuring out what gases are in the atmosphere).

Re:Link to ARES (1)

nightles (412474) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977798)

what's with the US flag design on the wings? i've never seen it featured that prominantly on a space probe before...

patriotic design (2, Funny)

daniel23 (605413) | more than 11 years ago | (#5979434)


Yeah, must be meant to frighten marsian terrorists. Anyway, should it fail and drop to the ground like a stone it may still serve to claim all of the mars as an us colony.

~dp

tiptoe advancements (0, Offtopic)

netkgb (200102) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977528)

Why not put the money for a glider toward a human mission to Mars?

Re:tiptoe advancements (5, Interesting)

KrispyKringle (672903) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977671)

Obviously we've all heard in general the debate on manned vs. unmanned expeditions. I may as well point out the obvious, that the money put into a project like this is pretty much a drop in the bucket compared to the amount needed for a manned mission.

More pertinant to this particular mission, though, and intersting in regard to the general debate, is the point that in this instance, we are looking at an unmanned mission with capabilities in fact different, not just lesser, than those of a manned mission. Certainly there is much valuable information to be gained from a manned mission that a glider will not provide, but by the same token, this mission will provide greater mobility and a larger sampling of the planet than any traditional manned (or unmanned) missions can.

While we all want to see manned missions, at the same time we must realize that pragmatically, unmanned missions often have not only more for the money, but more in and of themselves to contribute.

Re:tiptoe advancements (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977762)

How about a manned glider mission to Mars? Would that rock or what? Extreme sports on another planet.

Re:tiptoe advancements (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 11 years ago | (#5978952)

Sure, a manned glider mission would be nice. I'm all in favor of some unmanned flights first...

What it can do (4, Informative)

Gortbusters.org (637314) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977538)

  • Simultaneous, in-situ, regional-scale measurement of the Mars atmosphere, surface, and interior
  • Bridges critical scale and resolution measurement gaps of remote sensing and surface exploration
  • Scout for future sample return and surface mission site selection
  • Magnetic survey with spatial resolution two orders of magnitude higher than provided by Mars Global Surveyor, with ability to resolve the crustal magnetism source structure
  • High-resolution measurements that cannot be achieved from orbit
  • Geologic diversity from regional-scale coverage that cannot be achieved by surface missions
  • In-situ atmospheric science
  • Ability to traverse terrain inaccessible to surface vehicles
  • Ability to precisely target science features
  • Ability to execute a controlled, pre-planned aerial survey pattern
  • Measurement of vertical surface structure not visible from orbit
  • Robust performance with regard to atmospheric uncertainties

Bubba's Opinion (1)

Arbogast_II (583768) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977696)

I think the Founding Fathers would be impressed... No, make that pleasantly astounded!! I love living in the era when machines began to become intelligent, and when the Naked Little Apes learned to leave this rock. We live in an amazing time in human history... NASA is one of the most amazing organizations in the history of mankind. Yet another stroke of genius from the NASA folks.

Re:What it can do (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 11 years ago | (#5978892)

  • Profit!

suck my dick (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977539)

you ass clowns can go on and talk about the mars flier prototype, or the latest unstable linux patch, I'm going out to get some pussy.

Failure troll strikes again (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977577)

Ok, I know YOU'RE the least probable guy to get any pussy. You are vastly unattractive to the female sex and you can't pay a pussy enough for just a peek. Plus your performance in the bed (or in your case, on your mother's blue tarp in back of the shed) is less exciting than Al Gore's celebration party on the Simpsons. You, sir, are a failure in all areas (especially the genital area).

Count 'em: one...two...three! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977876)

This "ass clown" just finished making his wife come three times. I'm going out to get some brewskis. =P

Strange Martian Gravity (SMG) (0)

Tony Laszlo, Tokyo (535053) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977543)

But this plane is leaning over to the right [bbc.co.uk] in a most alarming manner. Could it be that on Mars stars weigh considerably more than stripes?

Re:Strange Martian Gravity (SMG) (1)

monadicIO (602882) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977566)

leaning over to the right
Perhaps the leftists don't carry as much weight there? Maybe it needs to be striped of its stars? Wonder what mars the balance.

m/sec? (2, Funny)

pdbogen (596723) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977548)

...What is that in furlongs/tick, again?

Re:m/sec? (3, Funny)

bj8rn (583532) | more than 11 years ago | (#5978915)

1 m/s ~= 40 attoparsecs/microfortnight. Maybe this helps with the conversion.

Re:m/sec? (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 11 years ago | (#5978942)

The Tick has no fur of any length.

Re:m/sec? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5980636)

For all you non-metric people out there in your caves, a few m/sec is a slight breeze... over 10 m/sec is getting windy, and over 20 m/sec you've got a storm. Hope this helps.

Re:m/sec? (1)

darkonc (47285) | more than 11 years ago | (#5983253)

The article states that the winds went up to 10 metres/second during the day... That comes to ~22 miles/hour. Not too bad if you're ok with the really thin air. [units(1) is your friend]

BTW: a balloon wouldn't be that bad of an idea... I think that mars' atmosphere is something like what we find at around 60~100thousand feet. We've already got balloons that can do the same on earth, so mars should be possible too.

Flying (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977553)

I'm flying right up uranus!! Watch out for Klingons!!

Failure (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977610)

Oh god, that is THE WORST troll ever attempted. That is not an accomplishment to be proud of (even in front of trolls, of all people!).

Re:Failure (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977758)

Oh, like yours was any better? Please!

What's the price? (2, Interesting)

$$$$$exyGal (638164) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977555)

The first Mars Scout mission is planned for launch in 2007 with arrival at Mars in 2008.

Wow. If this succeeds, there'll be "space plane(s)" on Mars by 2008. I'm extremely curious what the required budget is for this project. Anyone know? 10 million USD? 100 million USD?

Re:What's the price? (1)

Jhon (241832) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977701)

NASA's budget is around 14 billion USD/year. A healthy chunk of that goes to administration and payrol. Most NASA projects are on a shoe-string budget -- whatever money this project gets will most likely be at the expense of others.

14 billion might sound like a lot, but it's not.

Re:What's the price? (1)

CausticWindow (632215) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977772)

W00t. They'll take this out of your allowance, For real.

Nice journal, btw.

Re:What's the price? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5981520)

In the neighborhood of $300M. Space programs generally start at around $150M.

Why not a mars pathfinder (2, Insightful)

mnmn (145599) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977557)


With the lack of clouds, I think a pathfinder, like the two that NASA created, could be possible. A pathfinder would work well in that low gravity, despite the air density, and we could have a continuous stream of data forever (Or till the pathfinder warranty expires). They should ideally have highres cams pointing downwards for high res ground pictures and could occasionally swoop real low and detect moisture and other chemicals.

Heck they could release many pathfinders in the atmosphere, let em interconnect with long wave radio, and allow them to provide GPS-like location radio for ground machines. If they could act like ipv6 routers between themselves, we would have a mars internet started with ipv6 from ground up.. aliens would be tempted to login and try to crack the pentagon honeypots. Who wants the domain internic.mars?

Re:Why not a mars pathfinder (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977709)

On one hand you are correct: the Pathfinder would be efficient in the Martian atmosphere, as it is roughly equivalent to the Earth's atmosphere at 100,000 feet altitude, a domain where the Pathfinder can stay for hours.

But you have to take into account that the luminosity on Mars is around 40% of that on Earth, and solar panels are likely to collect dust as well. also, it is supposed that there are violent winds blowing on Mars.

Re:Why not a mars pathfinder (2, Interesting)

mnmn (145599) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977760)

Winds should not be a problem at higher altitudes, and since the first pathfinder flight, technologys improved. I read somewhere on slashdot 2 months ago of some solar panels taking in 250% more energy per area. I wouldnt take dust as a problem on smooth wings, salt, ice maybe, but not dry dust. Theres also no ozone there, which might let in more sunlight energy.

Such a pathfinder would be released from a spacecraft and wouldnt need landing gears or booster batteries for takeoff, that should kill more weight, but then again, I'm sure I'm pushing the luck there. It could just as well go plop like the last great idea for mars.

Re:Why not a mars pathfinder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5978901)

But you have to take into account that the luminosity on Mars is around 40% of that on Earth, and solar panels are likely to collect dust as well.

OK, first put in orbit the mirrors to brighten up the planet...or just have their beams follow the aircraft.

An aileron-rolling Pathfinder gathers no dust. :-)

Re:Why not a mars pathfinder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5981570)

We don't have vehicles that can run indefinitely on Earth yet. Mars has fairly harsh thermal cycling. Pathfinder lasted longer than anybody expected.

an older prototype (3, Interesting)

AbdullahHaydar (147260) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977559)

This article [spaceflightnow.com] is about an older prototype that was flown 2 years ago.

Can't wait to see the pics... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977579)

when this thing lands and G.W. Bush, in full combat flight suit, steps off to greet the smiling Martian press...

Re:Can't wait to see the pics... (1, Flamebait)

CausticWindow (632215) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977796)

This isn't funny. It's just antiamerican.

If that's all it takes to get a +1 funny, then yeah. I'll get a +1 funny, one day.

Re:Can't wait to see the pics... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977844)

no it's not... it's poking fun at a single politician, not an entire nation.

learning to spot these things is a useful skill.

if making fun of the president was treasonous, then half the united states would be in prison for making cheap blowjob jokes about clinton.

Re:Can't wait to see the pics... (1)

unisol54 (606309) | more than 11 years ago | (#5979366)

i've american cousins...i was born in india,so i technically am from a third world nation (look up the real political meaning of it by the way...its not a word to describe the economical condition of a nation..but most morons use it that way)...i am canadian...i've british cousins as well..i like america..i hate bush...i hate half of his administration..is that anti-american ?

Re:Can't wait to see the pics... (1)

the uNF cola (657200) | more than 11 years ago | (#5981709)

1. It plays on the ironic view of US being the world police.

2. Freedom, including that of speech, is one of the things America (should) hold most dear.

2a. America is a democracy, at least so believed, but as a democracy, it is ok to disagree with others, including your leader. Hell, you can work towards replacing him with yourself going through the proper channels.

So you see, he is funny. Your observation is wrong.

Re: Can't wait to see the pics... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977837)

i'd pay money to see the photos of him taking off his helmet.

Re:Can't wait to see the pics... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5978221)


Democrats will fund it. Heck, I'll fund it :)

Can't wait to see the look on W's face when he finds out his fare is only paid one way :).

(an aside to the troll in this thread, the one who claimed this was un-american...IMO, the 2nd Bush presidency has been an unmitigated disaster for all americans. When I was growing up, we could claim this was a free country and be serious about it. At this point, I don't think even this anonymous coward designation is enough to keep my name off some very disturbing list somewhere.)

Re:Can't wait to see the pics... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5978961)

when this thing lands and G.W. Bush, in full combat flight suit, steps off to greet the smiling Martian press...
... and LBJ is there already [newsmax.com] .

using air currents to regain altitude (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977589)

I very much doubt that it would be able to use rising current to stay up in the air for a couple of reasons. First the aerodynamics. The wings would have to have a much larger aspect ratio, or span vs. chord length, since that govers much of your aerodynamic efficiency. you need to be very efficient to use air currents to gain altitude. Modern gliders, which are able to use rising currents, are able to do that because they very high aspect ratios compared to most airplanes, including this one. They probably can't increase the wing span a lot because you still have to pack this thing up in a rocket, plus I'm sure there are design (weight?) constraints for spring to deploy the wings. Don't want to make them too soft, since you have some aerodynamic loads that you may need to overcome during deployment, but not too stiff to minimize the weight and you don't want the wings to unfold too fast and snap off if you don't beef up the structure, ie more weight.

Second problem and a major one, is the control system. Developing algorythms to read atmospheric conditions to find sources of rising air would be very difficult to say the least. That's why we don't have cars that drive themselves. it's hard to design the control and sensing algorythms. You'd have to use thermals or ridge lift to gain altitude. I doubt you could use storms due to the dangerous, highly nonlinear environment.

Re:using air currents to regain altitude (4, Informative)

KrispyKringle (672903) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977842)

Aside from the obvious comment that NASA surely knows what they are doing (more of a conversation stopper than anything), I think you miss a few points.

First, in reference to your comments on structural and weight limitations, the actual force born by the wings is far less, since there is far less gravity. In addition, while the thinner air is certainly a hindrance to how much lift can be acheived with the same area, it also means that the stresses that must be absorbed from turbulence and the like are probably a lot less.

In reference to unfolding wings, these have, I recall, been tested on Earth, so if they work in our dense air and stronger gravity, they should be fine on Mars. If I knew a link I'd post it; you can probably find more with google.

Finally, you talk a lot about control system algorithms. However, there are a number of reasons that Unmanned Autonomous Vehicles are simpler when flying than when driving. There are a couple of relevent articles in this month's Popular Science [popsci.com] , as well as a very good one in the New York Times [nytimes.com] magazine from a few weeks ago that I just finished reading. If you think about it, the amount of leeway available in the air is far greater than that on the ground; whereas a car driver must maintain precision navigation within a few feet on a road and avoid obstacles and the like, a pilot can, during cruise, simply trim out the plane's elevators, maintain a proper heading, and get by without even an autopilot. If he drifts off by a few hundred feet altitude or a few degrees heading, it doesn't really matter. This is why we already have numerous UAV's in the air in the military (such as the well-known Predator drone) and why Boeing 777s and the new Airbus 330 (isn't that it?) both can supposedly fly without even needing a pilot, in an emergency.

In comparison, DARPA is working with a few contractors to develop UAV ground vehicles, but is really nowhere near production stage.

My knowledge about gliders specifically is limited, my personal experience being limited to powered planes, but I would imagine that with a fair level of accuracy, finding thermals and gaining altitude should not be all that difficult, since most of the control software already exists in some form or another.

Re:using air currents to regain altitude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5978924)

Yes, failing to keep your car within that narrow lane does immediately cause serious difficulties. It actually is ridiculous that the Interstate highway system expects humans to drive 400 miles while not wandering two feet sideways. What engineer failed to put rails on the Interstates?

Actually, it is because our brains are able to handle such a control task that manually-operated vehicles have been acceptable for so long. If our dexterity were less, lanes for manually operated vehicles would be wider or there would be rails or bumpers along lanes. Highway and vehicle design would also be different if we couldn't pay enough attention to a driving task for long ("enough" to stay within the lane, not how little of the hamburger you spill).

Re:using air currents to regain altitude (3, Interesting)

dzimmerm (131384) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977991)

I have a private pilots license in Gliders and Single engine land.

Most aircraft seek sinking air naturally. The reason for this is that as an airplane approaches an area of rising air the strongest rising air will lift the wing on the side that is closest to that rising air. This will cause a turn away from the rising air.

When seeking for lift as a glider pilot we use an instrument called a variometer which is a very sensistive verticle airspeed indicator. Such a device can be made audio so that glider pilots can keep their eyes out on the airspace instead of fixated on the instrument panel.

Obviously if you can make an instrument with a rising audio tone when the plane is rising and a sinking audio tone when the plane is sinking you could couple this with a computer to find lift. The rising air is also hotter than the sinking air. A thermal sensor on each wingtip would give you a direction to go to find the hottest air.

We have the technology to seek rising air but rising air is generaly caused by sunshine and it only shines for a part of the day. I have no idea if the atmosphere of Mars is simular to Earths as far as verticle air movement. A lot of what goes on in Earths atmosphere is affected by the moisture content of the air. There is a lot of heat energy that is transferred by water evaporating and condensing. This would not be present in martian air and I do not know if there is an anolog for that effect on mars. The idea of the solar powered electric motoglider that also uses rising air during the day could be helpfull in sustaining a research aircraft aloft on mars.

I am guessing that with the thinner atmosphere the landing and takeoff speeds would be higher. That could make it tricky to try and land any large size aircraft on mars. Some kind of winch or catapult might be used to launch an aircraft but that would mean a base station would be needed.

I would almost think that lots of small gliders would be better than one big one if research and survivability is what you want. Could the beach ball landing be done and then a bunch of mini/micro air probes launched? How small could you make an aircraft that could sustain itself in mars atmosphere? I have heard that the solar radiation is much more intense on the surface of mars than on earth. Does that mean more power could be gotten from solar cells?

Send a beachball lander with a couple of hundred styrofoam gliders that have solar cells with electric motors and simple cameras or other simple probes. We could take a clue from the insects and send in lots in hopes that a few will survive to fullfill their missions.

dzimmerm

Re:using air currents to regain altitude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5981612)

There have been a few cars that drove themselves, but they've been research programs. Gliders generally go up when they expect thermals they can ride. You can't count on them 24 hours a day. It would be good to first develop a glider that worked on Earth to see what the limit of the technology is. If you put an engine on-board, its going to need to be a rocket motor. Aerovironment made a solar powered airplane for NASA, but it only flies on calm days in good weather.

Incidentally, X-plane.org (5, Interesting)

torpor (458) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977595)

... has some Mars models (fliable) available here [x-plane.org] in case anyone wants to try and get a feel for the flight dynamics of this sort of trip.

Pretty interesting, though I don't suppose there's an ARES model for X-plane yet, I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't one soon ...

Hope they don't screw up measurement systems again (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977602)

n/t

Simulator available :-) (0, Redundant)

Usquebaugh (230216) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977605)

<a href="http://slashdot.org/articles/01/12/30/192620 8.shtml">XPLANE</a>

Star Trek Voyager? (0)

47Ronin (39566) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977621)

Oh wait...

Am I the only one who read the headline and thought "Delta Flyer Prototype" ?

Bah. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Draped in the flag! (0, Flamebait)

macdaddy357 (582412) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977642)

Look, NASA has painted it up to look like the American Flag. What a bunch of jingoistic hoohah. Why don't they call it the screeching eagle, or the freedom flyer? I hope it crashes.

Re:Draped in the flag! (1)

John Biggabooty (591838) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977666)

Maybe they will sell models of it at Flag-o-Rama. [geocities.com] Isn't that Confeddy Freddy cute?

Ok (-1, Offtopic)

CausticWindow (632215) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977658)

Bombs kill at least 22 in downtown Casablanca; "There were bodies mutilated all over the place," one witness said. "Everybody is very shocked."

Oh, better start another war on terrorism. This time it's serious. It's not your way of living, it's your way of being arrogant.

Re:Ok (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977711)

And this is NOT off-topic?

Common now

Oh, and there's nothing wrong with arrogance - IF YOU'RE RIGHT!

Re:Ok (-1, Offtopic)

CausticWindow (632215) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977725)

There is nothing wrong with arrogance, IF YOUR COCK IS BIGGER!

Yeah.

Re:Ok (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977848)

here, here!

Re:Ok (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977732)

This isn't more offtopic than your gay whinig. Which is quite offtopic. And gay.

Mission Duration. (5, Insightful)

uberdave (526529) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977675)

This seems like an bad idea. The Mars Flier is a glider, which means it will have a very limited time aloft. 90 minutes from drop to landing in Earth's thick atmosphere - How long in Mars's thin atmosphere? I hope they train the on board computer to catch a few thermals here and there, otherwise this is a waste. A better idea would be a balloon or dirigible. These can stay aloft for days, weeks even. (Ultra long duration balloons [nasa.gov] could carry a lot more intstumentation than a glider. Theoretically, a balloon could even land, sample, and relaunch.

Nasa really needs to have another stunningly successful mission, like the pathfinder mission. Spending million of taxpayer dollars for a 90 minute glider mission will make them look bad.

No, not a glider, it has a rocket (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5978290)

Actually, the Mars version has a small hydrazine thruster on the back. It doesn't glide, it is powered flight.

They say it will cover 850km (500mi). No speed range is given but I would think it would take a a few hours.

You're right, though, that a long-duration balloon could cover even more territory.

Don't forget Mars gravity is less than 1g (1)

BattleWolf (637645) | more than 11 years ago | (#5978983)

While I agree about the need for a successful mission, don't forget that while the atmosphere is thinner gravity is also not as high...

Re:Mission Duration. (2, Informative)

eander315 (448340) | more than 11 years ago | (#5980837)

Actually, the original poster was wrong. It clearly states under the "Platform" section of the site that the ARES is an "autonomous powered airplane", and one of the artist renditions [nasa.gov] shows blue exhaust from some kind of jet propulsion (not that an artists rendition is worth much, but I doubt they would allow much artistic license in this case).

Re:Other uses for the powerful technology? (2, Informative)

mikerich (120257) | more than 11 years ago | (#5981121)

Any balloon relies on being bouyant to generate lift. With a very thin Martian atmosphere there simply isn't very much bouyancy available. A balloon would have to be HUGE to carry a usable payload.

Having said that, in 1989 the French and the USSR started work on Mars 96, a spaceprobe that would have sent a balloon to Mars.

Mars 96 would have sent a 65kg probe to the surface which would have been slung below a helium balloon. During the day, the Sun would warm the gas and increase bouyancy. The balloon would drift in the Martian winds taking panoramic photographs and making meteorological measurements.

As the Sun set, the gas would cool, the balloon would sink and come to rest on a long semi-rigid tail that would have kept the balloon clear of the surface so that it would not have become damaged. The tail would have contained sensors that would have performed geological tests on the Martian surface.

Sadly the mission was cancelled in the budget crisis that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Best wishes,
Mike.

RTFA (2, Informative)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977702)

Ares is in competition with three other Mars exploration proposals for a Nasa launch in 2007. The final selection of one, or possibly two, missions will be made later this year.

It isn't necessarily going to Mars.

We are leaving the Rock. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977737)

On the ground first ... In orbit first... why not the (thin) air ....

The Roads To Space Travel [thinkquest.org]

wings (-1, Troll)

dioscaido (541037) | more than 11 years ago | (#5977786)

how patriotic. barf

Dave-o (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977843)

So its DAVO's 23 BRITHDAY.

PROPS TO HIS MA.

But hes such a LOSER and a ACOHOLIC!

The man takes a KEG like a CHAMP.

He loves HOT GRITS but likes the COCK.

Ask dave about FREE ANAL SEX.

LOVE DAVE, AS HE LOVES YOU.

QXJ is not DRUNK.

PROPS TO MATTS MOM.

Slashdot poll (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5977887)

Who is the gayest duo of them all?
[ ] Guy and Ralna
[ ] The Captian and Tennille
[ ] Chad and Jeremy
[ ] Ian and Sylvia
[x] Timothy and Michael

Wow, that looks kinda... (3, Interesting)

IICV (652597) | more than 11 years ago | (#5978064)

For some reason, I started laughing when I saw the design on that thing... I mean, really. Stars and stripes? Is this what NASA has to sink to to get government funding?

Besides, no one's going to be seeing that thing again once it crashes. It's not like we're ever going to get to Mars, at this rate.

Re:Wow, that looks kinda... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5978939)

If we don't get our eggs out of this basket and get to Mars, none of this matters -- start etching your messages in case an intelligent being lands and tries to figure out what happened to us. If we do get to Mars, a garish paint job is a good idea to prevent its being run over by dune buggies.

Flag nonsense (2, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 11 years ago | (#5978163)

What the HELL is up with the flag-all-over-the-wings design?

I doubt seriously they'll waste weight on paint if, god forbid, the thing ever goes into production- so this was clearly "spiced up" as the selling image. Did NASA think it would have better chances all gussied up and make congressmen get all patriotic?

Or is the plan to call them "Unamerican" if they vote against it, because, say, Bush has dug us a budget hole so big it'll take us decades to get out of it? Yeah, we really need the shiny, flag-covered toys, don't we?

Re:Flag nonsense (2, Interesting)

L0C0loco (320848) | more than 11 years ago | (#5979597)

Get a grip folks! Look at the picture. This is artwork, probably from a press kit. If selected, the real thing will probably be the usual stark white with minimal decoration. Things we send to other planets have to be meticulously cleaned, sterilized actually, so we do not contaminate the planet. White is easy to inspect.

From my work developing some of the science instrumentation for this, I recall the flight speed to be in the vicinity of 250Km/Hr.

Re:Flag nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5981653)

Its got relatively small surface aera. The paint doesn't add that much weight. Furthermore it reduces the drag by making it smoother. The paint scheme also helps your eye visualize the surface.

Check out... (1)

Glock27 (446276) | more than 11 years ago | (#5980177)

the test flight [nasa.gov] .

Cool stuff! This mission looks very workable. It is too bad that it's a one-shot flight.

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