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160 comments

What do you say (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8702083)

We put together some money to send michael to the moon? I'm sick of that fascist.

Short (-1, Offtopic)

dotwaffle (610149) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702087)

Shortest Slashdot Headline Ever?

Lazy Story (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8702113)

Next time I post a story, it'll be a Fark one-liner too. Maybe that's the trick to getting posted here at /.????

If you want to explore Mars... (5, Funny)

Pan T. Hose (707794) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702091)

...then hurry up before it's completely terraformed [slashdot.org] !

3rd POST (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8702094)

3rd POST!!!

I, for one, would prefer... (4, Interesting)

turnstyle (588788) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702104)

I, for one, would prefer more robotics and AI, and less "people in space" for the time being.

Planet of the Apes (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8702132)

But if we send monkeys, maybe one day they will be the dominating species, then invade earth and become president

Re:Planet of the Apes (2, Funny)

Rune Berge (663292) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702268)

But if we send monkeys, maybe one day they will be the dominating species, then invade earth and become president

But will anyone notice the difference [about.com] ?

Re:I, for one, would prefer... (4, Insightful)

turnstyle (588788) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702254)

Let me explain a bit more...

Bush's call for a manned mission to Mars is mostly a publicity stunt. And since the PR polling that followed his announcement indicated luke-warm support, you'll not be hearing make too much more noise on the subject.

Personally, I don't see such a need to send people into space, apart from the admittedly spectacular gee-whiz factor.

I've been amazed at what the Mars rovers have been doing, for months, on their own, and I also think that the application of robotics and AI "in the field" will wind up having practical uses back home.

All the "people in space" talk also winds up at odds (for share of a limited budget) with the "real" science that is trying to figure out the nature of the physical universe.

Re:I, for one, would prefer... (2, Insightful)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 10 years ago | (#8703389)

"I've been amazed at what the Mars rovers have been doing, for months, on their own."

But they are not on thier own.

They are controlled from California and what one of them has done in 3 months could have been accomplished in a matter of hours by a human.

Walk out, grab rocks, take rocks back to lab module, walk out, grab rocks.

On Apollo 17 the Astronauts were able to walk around in locations much too rough for a rover to move.

Re:I, for one, would prefer... (1)

turnstyle (588788) | more than 10 years ago | (#8703466)

"They are controlled from California and what one of them has done in 3 months could have been accomplished in a matter of hours by a human."

Don't forget that the Mars rovers self-navigate with the help of 3D terrain maps that they build with their stereoscopic vision, and can travel unguided over considerable distances, and that's a big plus given the amount of time that it takes to transfer information between Earth and Mars.

Obviously people can still do lots of things better than robots, but the robots are getting better, and the loss of a robot is a heck of lot more acceptible than the loss of a person (or people).

AND better robot/AI tech has tons of practical uses here.

Re:I, for one, would prefer... (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 10 years ago | (#8703557)

Considerable for them is about dozen meters at this point.

"Opportunity flipped 115 meters (377.3 feet) on its odometer during the latest drives along the current soil survey campaign, surpassing the total drive distance of 1997's Sojourner rover."

"Spirit completed a 15-meter (49.2 feet) blind drive followed by a 3-meter (9.8 feet) auto-navigation drive around the south rim of "Bonneville" crater toward a drift named "Serpent." Once there, Spirit completed post-drive science observations and a miniature thermal emission spectrometer study of the atmosphere, ground and future drive direction."

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/mars/mera/statuste xt only.html

Re:I, for one, would prefer... (1)

turnstyle (588788) | more than 10 years ago | (#8703642)

"Considerable for them is about dozen meters at this point."

Well, first off you cited a distance from the Spirit site, which is quite a lot tougher than the Opportunity site -- my guess is that we'll be seeing much longer "blind" drives from Opportunity in the next few weeks.

Furthermore, note that the Opportunity site is now a much more likely repeat-visit candidate than the Spirit site.

Also, compare even that Spirit blind-drive distance to what Pathfinder could do a few years ago, and think about what may be reasonable to expect next time...

Re:I, for one, would prefer... (3, Interesting)

Channard (693317) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702285)

I, for one, would prefer more robotics and AI, and less "people in space" for the time being.

And I, for one, would prefer to see more the money spent - or some of it at least - on deep sea exploration. Perhaps we could compromise and have the depths probed by giant robot squid?

Re:I, for one, would prefer... (1)

turnstyle (588788) | more than 10 years ago | (#8703130)

"And I, for one, would prefer to see more the money spent - or some of it at least - on deep sea exploration."

Excellent point.

It's amazing how little of the Oceans have been cloesly explored, and there is presumably a lot of potential medicine (and perhaps materials) to be discovered... oh yeah, and great bug-eyed monsters too...

I'm just a jew,a lonely jew ...... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8702105)

working at Apple.....

Horseradish tree Stanfield touched to my scrap iron he liberally tied to me with strap inside to its Benmobile and it subsistence of couldnt his hands of the offensive extinguished of me he made many red tacts of the flag. couldnt i thinks that what the taken one ignited I said Horseradish tree Stanfield that the city would not approve of a millionaire who touches to a cabrito of underage for free. Can you believe it? Horseradish tree Stanfield did all the this. It chose to me of the street, he down tied with strap my arms and legs in the seat of passenger of the Benmobile, and just cock'n'balls would not stop fondling of my. Definately were red tacts of the flag the referee of goddamn that it had in the back seat kept in raising upon this red flag whenever it touched my scrap iron but he made the care of Horseradish tree Stanfield? CNINGUNA WAY! It finishes keeping in doing it. He could not think what the taken one ignited, in fact. I pleaded for with Mr. Wayne but uselessly. I said to him that the city did not approve of a so rich man that it touches to a cabrito of underage like me (when was 13) without at least compensating me for the trauma and the use of my body like its own plaything personal. This obtained, worrying to him about its image. It continued fondle me, all the short while not doing case of the red flags of the referee. Then he lead the Benmobile to my house and * he expelled the seat that was inside * was amazing. But amazingly, after the next morning woke up, my banking account had $150k in her! Can you believe it?

Incomplete and out of date. (5, Interesting)

FTL (112112) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702107)

To illustrate how quickly things can change in the field of planetary exploration, the details for the 'Messenger' probe to Mercury are already out of date. Liftoff has been postponed [spaceflightnow.com] from May to July, and it will take a different route to get to Mercury. It won't get there until 2011.

The list only includes NASA, ESA and JAXA. Completely missing are the upcoming probes from China [interfax.com] and India [newindpress.com] . Oddly, Russia doesn't seem to have anything planned.

Re:Incomplete and out of date. (4, Informative)

Zarhan (415465) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702165)

Also, New Horizons [jhuapl.edu] is not an orbiter, it will simply fly past Pluto and get the data. Afterwards it may check out some nearby KBO as well.

Re:Incomplete and out of date. (3, Interesting)

VanillaCoke420 (662576) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702792)

There's another Mercury probe too, BepiColombo [esa.int] . And I'm surprised we haven't heard more about the Japanese asteroid sample return mission in the mainstream media. It's more interesting than that.

Re:Incomplete and out of date. (4, Informative)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702842)

That doesn't illustrate how quickly things are changing, the postponing only occured a few days ago. It just represents unfortuante timing for the release of the article.

However, there is at least one glaring (to me) error: Cassini. Cassini doesn't arrive until July, so postpone your orbital insertion parties from June (which is what the article claims). And don't hold your breath on Huygens's launch into Titan: that doesn't occur until, I believe, the fourth orbit. (This is a change of plan from the original orbital plan. When they discovered the failure to account for the Doppler shift in the probe transmitter, they adjusted the first several orbits to make everything work out. However, the change of plan occured about two years ago, so it's a bit odd that the author of the article didn't find this out.)

They are (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8702109)

1- the anal probe
2- the oral probe
3- the occular probe
4-logic probe
5- ???

Google hacked! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8702123)

Google has been hacked folks! [google.com]

I'm not kidding, they have totally fucked up the site, its like they crapped all over it! Somebody save google!

A bit optimistic (5, Insightful)

hyperherod (574576) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702140)

Mars Science Laboratory: Still in its planning phase, this mission would establish a long-term roving laboratory on Mars dedicated to studying the planet's environment and composition. The launch could take place as early as 2009.

I know it states that's the earliest date, but doesn't that seem a bit too optimistic? 2009 isn't that far away, and if it's a 'long-term roving laboratory' I'd imagine it would take longer than five years to set up - and just how long is long-term, anyway?

Re:A bit optimistic (2, Interesting)

johnjay (230559) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702698)

If they design it right, all they need to design thoroughly are "long term" and "roving". The lab could be relatively simple at first. They can send more and better lab modules later. The rover would just go to the landing site, swap modules and continue on it's work.

"Long term rover" seems do-able today. Use the currentrover's platform and convert it to nuclear power.

(The thing that continually impresses me about the rover missions is that, regardless of how much great science the current rovers are doing, NASA seems to finally have a good system for getting probes to Mars. If I ran the world NASA would have Mars-Rovers coming out of factories and firing those things over to Mars twice a month. Every state university in the country would have its own rover it could order around.)

Re:A bit optimistic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8702741)

No, 5 years is not too short a time. MER was done in much less. Plus, they take semi-mature technologies when they design it, not brand-spanking new. And 'long term' means they would design it to run for 1 Martian year (~ 2 earth year). As you might know, if its designed for one, it will probably work for 2 or 3 (Mars = 4 to 6 Earth).

Details here:
http://centauri.larc.nasa.gov/msl/

Re:A bit optimistic (4, Informative)

GileadGreene (539584) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702748)

Mars Exploration Rover (aka Spirit and Opportunity) managed to go from "approval to proceed" to launch in around 3 years (mid-2000 to mid-2003). And they built two of them. If MSL is already in the planning phase (actually it's been in the planning phase for a while now) then there's a reasonable chance that they could get something built within the 5 year timeframe suggested by a 2009 launch date. Hopefully with a little less stress on the project team than the MER team faced :-)

I don't recall exactly what the intended mission duration of MSL is, but IIRC "long-term" counts as anything that is significantly longer than the 90 sol lifetime MER. My understanding is that MSL will be returning to using radio-isotope thermoelectric generators (rather than photovoltaic cells) as the primary power source for the rover - thus the long life compared to the curent set of rovers.

Re:A bit optimistic (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 10 years ago | (#8703598)

The thing that made Opportunity and Spirit short termed labratories is the solar power.

From what I've read, they're going to use nuclear generators like Cassini used (and, for that matter, the Viking landers) to allow the rovers to work for potentially years on the surface.

In that case, its just an evolutionary change from the current rover technology. 2009 doesn't seem at all farfetched, especially given how quickly the current rovers were developed.

Physics (2, Insightful)

dolo666 (195584) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702142)

Let's face it, the use of rockets and pressure-based engines is why we can't really get to deep space yet. Until we find a really safe method for infinite travel (mass transfer) I have to agree that robotic probes are the way to go, until infinite travel is possible. Flying hulks of mass through space, and requiring that these ships support human life is the bottleneck for research. We don't need people anymore, whereas in the 60's we did.

Soon we'll know all about the space around us, and maybe then we'll find some intelligent extraterrestrial life to sponge from! :)

Do I hear you proposing.... (4, Funny)

millahtime (710421) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702155)

"Until we find a really safe method for infinite travel"

Do I hear you proposing an open source warp engine project?????

WTF? (2)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702305)

"Infinite travel"? How do these things get modded insightful?

Re:WTF? (4, Funny)

BDew (202321) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702410)

Because it's slashdot. Anything that says robots are better than humans gets modded up.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8702591)

And it's also probably why people think that jokes like "I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords" would still be funny.

Re:WTF? (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702518)

Maybe the moderators are on the same drugs at the same rave as the poster?

Thoughts (1, Insightful)

dolo666 (195584) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702604)

> "Infinite travel"? How do these things get modded insightful?

Likely the same way gripes about moderation are modded as Troll.

To clarify what I meant by Infinite travel, I will say that travelling through space is the problem; we are still very point-a-to-point-b in our logic. The correct method of space travel is likely developing a system that would enable us to find a coordinate and APPEAR there (kinda like Dune). That's what I meant by infinite space travel.... when you are going point-a-to-point-b, you have resources to look at that are all very finite. While these things may seem strange or like science fiction to you, they are possible; because in the 50's if you told them we would put robots on Mars, they'd have Trolled you down as being a fricking nutbar too.

Re:Thoughts (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8703318)

While these things may seem strange or like science fiction to you, they are possible; because in the 50's if you told them we would put robots on Mars, they'd have Trolled you down as being a fricking nutbar too.

Sorry, this argument doesn't hold water: it suffers from the inductive fallacy. (i.e.
Because people did not beleive technological feat X was possible, and X turned out to be possible, therefore every technological feat people don't beleive is possible will be possible).

If you want to convince me, try harder.

Re:WTF? (1)

GileadGreene (539584) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702771)

"Never underestimate the power of Human stupidity"
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Re:Physics (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8702449)

What the hell?!?!

Let's face it, the use of rockets and pressure-based engines is why we can't really get to deep space yet.

What is deep space? Outside the solar system? We can get there, it just takes a while ;)

Until we find a really safe method for infinite travel (mass transfer)

I say again: what the hell?!?!? What is infinite travel? Does it have something to do with perpetual motion machines? Or travelling at the speed of light? Both of which, BTW, are impossible unless you're, like, a photon or something.

And what the hell is mass transfer? I did a google search on it, and got the following definition:

"Absorption, Distillation, Stripping, Drying, Extraction are mass transfer operations."

So we can travel in to deep space by... .dripping our way there? Great! Thanks for coming out, bud!

Re:Physics (1)

sotonboy (753502) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702740)

Its a bit strange, because I understood exactly what he was trying to say. Admittedly the terminology was somewhat unconventional, but the point was good. On the other hand, your post indicated nothing useful whatsoever. Go and do a google search for "I am an Idiot". I dont know what will show up, but at least you'll get some practise typing it.

Re:Physics (3, Funny)

turgid (580780) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702497)

Marvel Comics are rarely a good source of scientific education.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (4, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702144)

Scheduled for launch by NASA in August 2005, this orbiter will be equipped with what NASA calls the "most powerful camera ever flown on a planetary exploration mission." It will take extreme close-up images of Mars' surface.

With Spirit and Opportunity practically shoving their lenses into the dirt, I'm not sure that "extreme close-up" is the best way to describe photos taken from orbit.

Don't you just love it! (1)

gloth (180149) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702291)

This orbiter will be equipped with what NASA calls the "most powerful camera ever flown on a planetary exploration mission"

Technology advances, now that's a surprise! Of course it's better than what Mars Express has now. Of course Mars Express itself is more sophisticated than Mars Odyssey. Of course Mars Odyssey is fancier than <insert name of previous probe>. Of course <continue as desired> ...

Why would you spend that sort of money if not for new results, huh? Those marketing droids, just got to love 'em!

Re:Don't you just love it! (4, Informative)

robsimmon (462689) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702455)

Actually, the current record for "most powerful camera" around mars goes to Mars Global Surveyor's Mars Orbital Camera [msss.com] , launched in 1996, which itself was a duplicate of an instrument on the failed Mars Observer (1993).

Re:Don't you just love it! (3, Informative)

gloth (180149) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702617)

Darn, I'll admit, you got me there...

The best achievable resolution is apparently better for Mars Global Surveyor, if not by much though: 1.5m vs 2m. The claim to fame of Mars Express seems to be the way that these hi-res shots are embedded in the low-res shots that they take to map the whole planet, which allows them to actually pin-point where the hi-res shots were taken, which, as some claim, is often difficult for the Margs Global Surveyor shots.

Anyway, good point made!

Re:Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (1)

guy-in-corner (614138) | more than 10 years ago | (#8703192)

Sure Beagle 2 wins the prize for extreme close-up of the Mars surface?

I don't think it could have got much more up-close-and-personal if they'd tried.

NASA is another branch of the military (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8702146)

No more money for space research! All it does is go to building better killing machines for the US military. I am sick of the war mongering. No more money for weapons research masquerading as "space" research.

All we are saying, is give peace a chance...

why we need space-exploration (5, Insightful)

N3wsByt3 (758224) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702152)

We all heard the reasoning for abolishing space-exploration (particulary human-based) before, and I think the major flaw in all these 'arguments' why we shouldn't go into space is that they always set economic factors as a premise.

But, although economic viability is important to create a mass-usuage of space(travel), I fail to see why it should be the only possible motive to start exploring space. It's a pretty narrowminded, materialistic and typical capitalistic view on things. It's the same view that makes progress on medication for very rare diseases, or for diseases that are prevalent in continents that are poor, so slow: corporations can't see how they are ever going to get profit out of it, so they all turn their backs on it.

If ppl (including states) are only going to do something when they are sure of an immediate profitable return, the world has become a sad place. (And we should leave it the sooner ;-)

Arguments based on such a viewpoint fail to recognise other incentives apart from economical ones.

The reason why we shouldn't (only) rely on robots? You can explore, but you can not colonise with robots. The will to explore is deeply entrenched in the human race, but with a reason: it has survival advantages.

A species that doesn't colonise new territory and adapt, will perish. I think it's paramount that humans always keep their adventurage spirit and keep exploring and expanding, because the moment we will go "ah, let's sit back in our sofa's and let our robots/droids do it", we're basically finished, even when not being aware of it at that moment.

Re:why we need space-exploration (2, Interesting)

filekutter (617285) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702239)

This makes me think of humanity-as-virus and the need to find fresh hosts to perpetuate the species. Could this 'will to explore' also be an instinctive trait within the viral forms we fight daily here within our own bodies? We consume natural resources and so far, NOT to the benefit of the host. Is this not the actions of a virus? Though I admit that to go to the stars has been a deep and obsessive wish of mine, I am also concerned about allowing such a dangerous life-form to escape the gravity-well. Being self-aware does not mean we have carte-blanche to infect the solar system and then the galaxy. A self-aware virus would inherently view its own perpetuation as a good and natural progression, regardless of the actual outcome of its spread.

not at all (5, Insightful)

N3wsByt3 (758224) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702395)

The treat to conquer new grounds is not a tell-tale sign of a virus, but of life in general.

And frankly, the exploration of earth (or its ecology) is hardly that of a virus killing it's host, though the ultra-greens may often portray it that way. Earths' ecology ALWAYS changes; species appear and dissapear, and those that are most suited (and have spread the most around the globe) have the most chance of surviving.

The fact that a lot of current change is done by humans, may give it an air of artificiality, but to that idea I don't subscribe. Humans are still biological identies, and as such, need an ecology to survive in. 'Nature' or 'the world' does not care what particular ecology it sustains; as long as there is biological life, it exists, period.

Your premise that being self-aware is not a reason to colonise the solar system and then the galaxy is based on...what? I would claim it DOES (though it would not excuse us from being responsable - to alien life - while colonising).

If alien life is not omni-present on the planet, but only in small niches, I think it's worth considering to protect those niches, or create articial enclosures to preserve it - but still go on with the colonisation. Things would only be different if it's a planetwide alien ecology, or if there is alien sentient life involved.

As for your argument that it does not benefit the host; allow me to contradict. The mere fact that we would colonise other planets and introduce earths' ecology there, would augment the chances of earths' 'nature' to survive...therefor, it would benefit from our actions.

Infact, viewed from the point of 'Nature' (if it had a viewpoint, that is ;-), we, humans, could be seen as merely the spermcells of Earth, and are the means to propagate itself so that the galaxy will eventually contain myriads of earths.

Re:why we need space-exploration (1)

JWW (79176) | more than 10 years ago | (#8703127)

I thought Neo destryoed you Agent Smith.

That argument is just so damn lame.

why? (1)

al.cx (732497) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702391)

Because it's cool, dammit.

Yeah, I realise "cool" doesn't pay the bills, but quite frankly, people come out with the most contrived justifications for space exploration.

Re:why we need space-exploration (1, Insightful)

rm007 (616365) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702544)

We all heard the reasoning for abolishing space-exploration (particulary human-based) before, and I think the major flaw in all these 'arguments' why we shouldn't go into space is that they always set economic factors as a premise.

I fully agree with you that the narrow focus on economic rationales for space programs, and well, pretty much anything else. Our lives - and our societies - are more than a pareto optimality with the end result prefaced by a dollar sign. The problem for policy makers is, among other things, how do you spend money on grand space visions when social security is running out of money, public services have little money and millions of Americans are without primary healthcare? For the moon program, there was the political justification Cold War competition with the Soviet Union. It would be difficult to fit space exploration into the current national security focus on terrorism. Should China finally get it's act together, there might be something in that, but Sino-US rivalry would have to develop well beyond what it is now.

The problem as I see it is, that while money is easy to measure - which is why everyone defaults to metrics based on money - and national security never seems to need hard data to launch a vision, on what basis do you make a substantial national commitment to space exploration that will get broad support. While it would not be too difficult to get support from the likes of Slashdot readers for the kinds of reasons that you cite:

The reason why we shouldn't (only) rely on robots? You can explore, but you can not colonise with robots. The will to explore is deeply entrenched in the human race, but with a reason: it has survival advantages

How do you get broad popular support behind a vision like this and sustain in for the time required to see it though? A vision like the one articulated earlier this year by President Bush is largely meaningless because the long time-frame suggested that it was a commitment for other presidents to keep and fight for the budget appropriations. In contrast, while JFK's decade long vision would have extended beyond a second term, a sizable proportion of the program would have been completed under his administration. A commitment that you do not have to keep is not really a serious commitment and even this painless promise did not really take off - although, of course, it does not look like there will be any serious political capital expended on it.

Perhaps the problem boils down to how to ignite a real vision in this area when the country is split down the middle poltically, every thing becomes a partisan issue and so becames part of the "Culture Wars" and fewer and fewer Americans are actively engaged in the poltical process. With all this, what is the argument that is going to make the case for space exploration and who is going to make it?

indeed (1)

N3wsByt3 (758224) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702710)

While I'm in principle all for democratic values and the lot, you cite the one major drawback of democratic governments.

If the pharao's had been presidents, and had had to pass their idea of a tombe (and the budget for it) through parliament and senate, we would never have had the pyramids.

Democracies are really bad in creating and sustaining truelly grand projects and visions.

That said, the populace isn't really totally opposed to the idea of spacetravel, otherwise it wouldn't be popular to say so (by politicians) and NASA would have closed down a long time ago.

In any case, it's not my job to sell it to people; I only want to point out the fallacies used when argumenting against it with motives that are purely based on economic motives.

Re:indeed (1)

Eccles (932) | more than 10 years ago | (#8703490)

If the pharaohs had been presidents, and had had to pass their idea of a tomb (and the budget for it) through parliament and senate, we would never have had the pyramids.

Would you be willing to pay (say) an extra $10K a year in taxes for a 1000 foot diameter hemispherical tomb for GWB? I wouldn't. These "grand visions" to someone's ego may fascinate us now, but they were a huge diversion of resources from the people of the time.

correct (1)

N3wsByt3 (758224) | more than 10 years ago | (#8703549)

And they form a huge income of (tourist)resources to Egypt now.

but we don't need humans in space (2, Informative)

kipsate (314423) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702755)

Upfront: I am against manned space flight at the current state of the art.

Cost. Manned space missions are an order of magnitude more expensive than unmanned missions. This means that for the price of (God forbid) a manned space mission to Mars, ten or so smaller missions such as stated in the article could have been performed.

Effectiveness. Manned space missions are not as effective as often thought. The extra weight that the Space Shuttle has to carry just to accommodate the astronauts in space already consumes a significant part of its available payload capacity. This is at cost of available room for experimental equipment. Most experiments can be designed such that they can be done by robots.

Danger. Why risk lives?

I know that GWB in his Great Vision would like to see the flag of the U.S.A. proudly wave on Mars. This would cost billions of dollars - if it is possible at all (for starters, two years of accumulated radiation would surely kill the astronauts). And the main reason would be prestige, just like it was for the moon missions, as NASA admits:

"the most persistent justification for the moon race was the matter of prestige" [nasa.gov] .

NASA's budget is crippled by the costs of the manned space station ISS - which are between 60 and 100 billion dollars. Enough is enough!

of course not (4, Insightful)

N3wsByt3 (758224) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702938)

We don't need the pyramids neither, nor all those great buildings and artworks, nor any luxery, etc.

The only thing we 'need' is food and shelter.

Based on what we truelly 'need' thus, we should go back living like cavemen.

But ofcourse, we don't, and the reason is that we, as humans, look beyond our immediate needs and have (and should have) grander visions.

What you say is what I already indicated: economics (and also the ratio of costs/science output) is less good with human spacetravel then robotic ones. Contrary to some zealots, I do not dispute that.

But, as I have said, I do not think one should measure everything in terms of economic benefits. Even if you could send a hundred, or a thousand robots for the price of one human mission, it still would not change the fact that robots can't colonise planets, and augment the survival chances of the human race (and earths' ecology) through interplanetary spreading.

Re:of course not (2, Insightful)

kipsate (314423) | more than 10 years ago | (#8703637)

You talk about interplanetary spreading and the fact that robots can't colonize planets. You are implying that a single, very expensive manned Mars mission would be the first step into colonization and interplanetary spreading, and that they augment the survival chances of the human race.

This really is hogwash. With what we know now, we can not terraform Mars, nor can we routinely transport many people from earth to Mars. Note that in my original post, I talked about the "current state of the art". In the future, yes, who knows. But not now. Putting someone on Mars is not going to change that. It is not going to increase the survival chances of the human race one little bit.

FYI: Mars is almost as hostile an environment for humans as is the Moon. High radiation, almost no atmosphere, no air pressure. There might be water, but that's also true for the moon.

Your arguments about not needing houses and so on are demagogical. No, we do not need anything besides food, some heat and air. But surely, life becomes a lot more pleasant with houses, cars, tv's and internet. Now, how would life become more pleasant when a man walks on Mars? For the cost, other research which has much higher impact scientifically, and thus also in terms of space exploration, than one Mars mission. How about research in ion-engines, or other methods to thrust space vehicles that can reach speeds that may make travels to other solar systems once possible? How about detecting earth-like planets with a successor of the Hubble? We need to make choices.

I would have agreed with you if you would have admitted that men on Mars gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside on yet another great achievement of the Human race, and, if you are from the USA, on yet another great USA achievement. Maybe this feeling is worth to you a lot. Maybe for many people. But please do not try to defend it with hogwash arguments about interplanetary spreading and survival of the human race.

Re:why we need space-exploration (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 10 years ago | (#8703267)

There are also economic arguments toward going into space [cnn.com] . One which could have a significant effect is mining in space [permanent.com] . Although best done by automation due to long travel times, having heavy metals available in free space would allow more activities in space by humans. Even simple iron or steel would have many uses. The large amount of fissionables available from asteroid mining would certainly be a useful power source. Although just having water [ieee.org] would also be necessary.

Humans need to get into space simply because Earth is not a closed system. We can't keep all our eggs in this basket at the bottom of a gravity well. The solar system affects us and has more resources than are available on Earth.

Incidentally: " 03/26/04 - SpaceDev Seeks Top Spacecraft Program Managers and Engineers" [spacedev.com]

Interesting trends (4, Insightful)

spellraiser (764337) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702156)

"The '80s were very dark for exploration," said Friedman. "We only started to see a resurgence in the '90s under (then NASA administrator) Dan Goldin."

Friedman attributed the Reagan administration's focus on manned spaceflight as the primary reason for the lack of planetary missions in the 1980s.

Interesting that this decade NASA seems to be focusing on both unmanned and manned [slashdot.org] missions.

Let's just hope there will be funds available for all these plans; although I personally would sacrifice manned projects in favor of unmanned ones if it came to that. We have plenty of time later to take such bold strides - for one thing, we really need better methods for entering orbit than the current, wasteful method of simply burning loads and loads of fuel that has been practised since the inception of space flight. This would, of course, benefit unmanned missions as well, but in my view it is absolutely crucial for the viability of manned missions.

Re:Interesting trends (1)

ec_hack (247907) | more than 10 years ago | (#8703482)

Friedman attributed the Reagan administration's focus on manned spaceflight as the primary reason for the lack of planetary missions in the 1980s.

Friedman is taking a cheap shot at a president he didn't like. The 80s had few planetary missions because the paradigm that planetary science used then was to build huge, multi-billion dollar probes to the outer planets. This took up all the space science dollars. Oh, and that little thing called the Hubble was developed in the 80s.

The emphasis now is on smaller probes that address questions raised by previous probes, with a billion dollar probe only now and then.

Here's hoping for JIMO (3, Interesting)

Mukaikubo (724906) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702162)

I really, really want to see a nuclear-powered orbiter studying the Jovian system for years on end...

Re:Here's hoping for JIMO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8702327)

Oddly enough, it seems that due to political connections this project might be one of the more likely to suceed. NASA is contracting with Naval Reactors to build the reactor for the orbiter. Rumor has it that since NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe used to be Secretary of the Navy during the old Bush administration, he might be trying to 'hook up old friends'.

Re:Here's hoping for JIMO (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702773)

Yeah, but given that it isn't even supposed to arrive until something like 2020, it's not suprising that it wasn't mentioned.

Space... (4, Interesting)

Paddyish (612430) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702172)

Not to be corny, (too late, I know) but it seems that the bright periods in human history are often during the full-scale exploration of a new frontier.

I certainly hope that, despite the article's point that manned exploration takes away from true exploration, eventually this trend of new probes leads to more of a human presence beyond the pale blue dot. I want my kids / descendants to look across a huge expanse of space back at their home and think how strange it must have been to be limited to a single planet.

Martian butt exploration... (-1, Troll)

OwlWhacker (758974) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702176)

I wonder if they'll launch any anal probes?

Sorry, I've been drinking.

Re:Martian butt exploration... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8702200)

For the love of Taco, don't drink and post!

Re:Martian butt exploration... (0)

OwlWhacker (758974) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702289)

Why is this a "Troll"? Hell, the Martians have been doing it to us for years, so why the hell wouldn't the people of Earth want to get even by using unmanned anal probes (hell, you wouldn't want to man an anal probe would you)? This is damn serious!

Return of the Space Exploration (-1, Flamebait)

melendil (766114) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702177)

Thanks to China, where people are lookin' forward the space odyssey, the Eye of Sauron (sorry, Eye of G.W.Bush) i moving towards Mars, instead of Middle East. U.S. money moves there as well. More spacecrafts, less weapons in the nearest future? Lets hope so!

Right... (4, Insightful)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702187)

And how many of these are going to actually go to completion?

Funding, politics, it's all horrible.

Re:Right... (1)

johnjay (230559) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702879)

And how many of these are going to actually go to completion?
If we are not made aware of these missions, if we do not get excited about them, then funding will be easy to cut. Look at the possible reprieve that may be granted to the Hubble due to public outcry.

So a few of them may be cut for funding/political reasons... The history of space exploration has always been one of starry-eyed optimism bruised by the unfortunate realities of politics and engineering limitations. Without the vision and the optimism there is nothing.

Funding, politics, it's all horrible.
No argument there, but it's also reality. In my view you may as well say: "Earth's gravity well--it's horrible."

wait a second! (1)

Digitus1337 (671442) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702195)

They forgot that Jupiter mission in '01!

V'ger (2, Funny)

Mick Ohrberg (744441) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702234)

I wonder if we'll ever see a Voyager 6...

Re:V'ger (1)

JohnnyCannuk (19863) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702752)

Offtopic? Are the mods on Slashdot really that young?

Man, go rent Star Trek, the movie. It came out in 1979. Watch the movie.

Now, shouldn't a comment that makes reference to fictional space probe from a geek classic movie in a story about a flotilla of space probes being launched be considered at least a little relevant?

Solid State Age (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8702249)

Why does everyone always consider this the Space Age? When you look at the technology around you (heck, look at the technology you are looking AT right now) and it is all because of an advanced understanding of the solid state of matter.

Re:Solid State Age (2, Informative)

Tmack (593755) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702446)

Last I heard, we were in the middle of the information age. The Space Age started back when Sputnik was launched and ran through the 70s when the cold war was pushing the race to the moon etc... The information age then took over with microprocessor developement in the 70's, TCP/IP and fiber optics.

Tm

the rage of public exploitation buy ?pr? hypenosys (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8702273)

it's just whoreabull. lookout bullow.

all is not lost.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators.... see you there?

Space. The final frontier ... (2, Funny)

gomel (527311) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702283)

(complete the punch line)

Space. The final frontier ...

Re:Space. The final frontier ... (1)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702961)

Space. The final frontier ...

Next is the ALT

Probes certinally make more sense.....but (4, Interesting)

MrIrwin (761231) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702290)

In the "race to space" NASA put all it's efforts into putting a man on the moon, whilst the russians (with more modest resources) launched higher risk unmanned spacecraft and probably learnt more.

They did not get a man to the moon but they did get thier explorer there, learnt that there was nothing much to learn there, and left it to the US to go and play golf.

Now the US and ESA are into probes, learning more at low cost, but not able to send anybody into space.

Ironically the russians, whilst lagging behind NASA and ESA in probes, are now the only ones able to reliably transport people.

There is a lot more collaboration nowdays of course, but I still think a lot more is needed to get the right contrast between men and probes. Perhaps different agencies should take up different specialities.

We now have a constant shower of probes on mars.....but whenever they **may** have found something interesting we are told that only a **manned** mission can really confirm the facts.

Dare I say that perhaps the quickest and cheapest way to get a man to mars would be to pay the russians to do it?

Re:Probes certinally make more sense.....but (4, Informative)

cosmo7 (325616) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702476)

This is so profoundly wrong. If the Russians didn't want to land men on the moon, why did they announce in 1962 that they intended to do just that?

The Russians did not land men on the moon because their plans [astronautix.com] were politically hashed and once they had developed a vehicle it was too late.

Re:Probes certinally make more sense.....but (1)

bluGill (862) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702577)

The US learned a lot from space exploration in the 60s. Not, IMHO enough to justify the cost, but there was a lot learned. How to build big rockets for instance. Sure the Russians can get small payloads into space, but not big ones. They don't have rockets with the ability to get men and all their support gear to the moon and back. The Saturn V was a large rocket.

Re:Probes certinally make more sense.....but (4, Interesting)

MrIrwin (761231) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702638)

I think the current state of the art is that the russians **do** have a mothballed but tested project that is up to manned lunar mission standards.

They are also able to shuttle people back and forth between the ISS.

NASA has managed to lose the plans to Saturn V, and has a space shuttle that is semi-retired long before a sccessor will be available.

Meanwhile, back in Europe, they can launch lots of little payloads but have never been anywhere near manned mission like payload, and don't appear to have any interest in developing for manned missions.

That's how I see it.....but I live in a country that has never made it's own spacerocket and has no national pride.

Re:Probes certinally make more sense.....but (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702692)

Wasn't that the project that used a billion engines which was begging for horrible failure? If I am remembering correctly, it's much more likely that it would of been a horrible death trap rather than a success story.

Re:Probes certinally make more sense.....but (2, Informative)

MrIrwin (761231) | more than 10 years ago | (#8703525)

I was reffering to Energia [russianspaceweb.com] which was slightly more powerful than Saturn V but less payload (Russians have a bit of offset from the equator!), and it was succesfully launched.

I think strictly it is considered a booster, anyway, see the link for the details.

AFAIK, this was used to lift the Russian clone of the shuttle, but I think Glasnost put an end to that program.

Re:Probes certinally make more sense.....but (1)

linoleo (718385) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702625)

whenever [unmanned probes] **may** have found something interesting we are told that only a **manned** mission can really confirm the facts.

We are told that by the same administrators who have to justify raping, pillaging, and plundering the budget for future unmanned space probes in order to divert funds barely adequate to conduct fig-leaf concept studies towards one anti-intellectual politician's "vision" that has more to do with his getting re-elected than any actual plans for space exploration. A *huge* grain of salt is called for here.

Re:Probes certinally make more sense.....but (1)

JWW (79176) | more than 10 years ago | (#8703085)

You know if we manage to get this oppsing political party stuff right, maybe we can stop all manned missions and all the unmanned ones too!!

@#$%!$#% politics.

Re:Probes certinally make more sense.....but (4, Interesting)

kirkjobsluder (520465) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702714)

They did not get a man to the moon but they did get thier explorer there, learnt that there was nothing much to learn there, and left it to the US to go and play golf.

I just got done reading The Big Splat by Dana Andrews. The book is a history of human knowledge about the moon with a focus on the impact theory of the moon's origins. It highlights the fact that we really did not know much about what the moon was made of, until the Apollo missions recovered geologic specimens. What we learned from Apollo was a necessary prerequisite for all of the planetary science that followed.

mackenzie not andrews (2, Funny)

kirkjobsluder (520465) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702761)

Should not post before first coffee of the morning. The Big Splat is by Dana Mackenzie, not Dana Andrews.

Re:Probes certinally make more sense.....but (3, Informative)

GileadGreene (539584) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702802)

You do realise that NASA launched a metric crapload of probes in the early days of the "space race", right? Things like Pioneer (of which there were several), and Mariner (of which there several). The Surveyor (IIRC) probe that the Apollo 12 mission deliberately landed near. Others I can't remember right now. To characterize the early US space program as focusing on manned missions only, is a gross distortion of the facts.

Re:Probes certinally make more sense.....but (0, Offtopic)

BTWR (540147) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702882)

I hate grammar police, but I love how this guy can use the word "whilst" in his comment to sound sophisticated, and then use the word "certinally" in his title (likely not a typo, since the 'a' comes two letters late and the 'l' is used twice). Ha!

Re:Probes certinally make more sense.....but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8703599)

Probes certinally make more sense

Hehehe - I read that as cretinally at first ...

No Europa missions ? (4, Interesting)

EpsCylonB (307640) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702295)

I was sure that I read something about NASA planning a probe to go and study europa but this list doesn't seem to mention it. Potentially this is one of the most interesting places in out solar system, it would be great to get some more infomation about it.

Also it is nice to see a Venus mission, I personally think Venus is a much more interesting planet than mars. It would be cool for mars to attempt a venus rover despite the obvious challenges.

Re:No Europa missions ? (1)

linoleo (718385) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702798)

NASA planning a probe to go and study europa but this list doesn't seem to mention it.

I couldn't RTFA (/.ed) but JIMO [nasa.gov] includes a study of Europa. Europa lander/driller/submarine missions such as this [klx.com] are in the early conceptual stages.

would be cool for mars to attempt a venus rover despite the obvious challenges

Such as Mars not having intelligent life, much less space technology? :-)

Re:No Europa missions ? (2, Funny)

EpsCylonB (307640) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702812)


Such as Mars not having intelligent life, much less space technology? :-)


Doh!, I meant of course that it would be cool for NASA to attempt some kind of venus lander/rover.

Re:No Europa missions ? (2, Funny)

red floyd (220712) | more than 10 years ago | (#8703458)

would be cool for mars to attempt a venus rover despite the obvious challenges

Such as Earth blocking the view? Where's that Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator? Delays, delays!

Looks kinda dull... (1)

thrill12 (711899) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702399)

...here. [nasa.gov]
So why isn't there a bit more excitement in this 'brave new age of space exploration' and why won't people use this excitement in JPL, NASA et al. to start their working day a bit earlier, say 5:00 am ?

The security guard that left the light on at least keeps up with the pace.

Age of the Train (0, Offtopic)

turgid (580780) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702443)

"This is the age of the train." - Jimmy Saville.

Re:Age of the Train (0, Offtopic)

OwlWhacker (758974) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702519)

Have you been drinking too?

Re:Age of the Train (0, Offtopic)

turgid (580780) | more than 10 years ago | (#8702718)

Have you been drinking too?

Not since Saturday night, and I only had one can of Stella and 3 glasses of wine.

Japan is attacking the moon?! (2, Funny)

shiwala (93327) | more than 10 years ago | (#8703132)


"Lunar-A: Originally scheduled to be launched in 1999 by Japan's Institute of Space and Aeronautical Science, this lunar orbiter mission was delayed because of a failure during testing. When it is finally launched this August, the orbiter will map the surface of the moon and
lob two missile-like probes designed to penetrate and study the moon's interior."

WTF?! Did they clear this with anyone?! I guess the thing that catches my attention is the phrase "missile-like". I wonder if the probes will be Aibos [sony.net] ?
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