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Mirror Jams on Venus Express Spacecraft

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the only-one-man-would-dare-give-me-the-raspberry dept.

31

tsarina writes "The European Space Agency is trying to fix a stuck instrument on its Venus Express spacecraft. A mirror in front of its interferometer is not pointing in the right direction, making it useless until it is moved. Managers hope to fix the Planetary Fourier Spectrometer this week. An identical instrument on the Mars Express probe has also acted up, but it is currently working properly.""

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Obligatory Wiki Link (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15289300)

Venus Express [wikipedia.org]

You can see that it analyses the atmosphere from the ground to 100km, but is only one of about 7 instruments.

Oh yeah, and first post.

You could... (5, Funny)

AlexanderDitto (972695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15289325)

Try jiggling it back and forth, sometimes that helps.

Alternatively, run it under some hot water for a few seconds.

If all else fails, give it a good swift kick.

Re:You could... (1)

gclef (96311) | more than 8 years ago | (#15289433)

I know you're kidding, but jiggling it back and forth is probably exactly what they're going to do. If it's just stuck in place, that's probably the least dangerous thing to try to fix it. Since they can't exactly go out & fix it (it's rather far away), you start with the stuff that's easy & obvious.

Re:You could... (1)

sho-gun (2440) | more than 8 years ago | (#15289550)

No no no..

Don't you remember, that if you have problems with your
interferometer mirror, you put it in the FREEZER
for a few hours, take it out and stand it on its
side, and you should be able to coax some usefulness
out of it.

Or maybe that was something else...

Re:You could... (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 8 years ago | (#15289889)

OK, so just send it to Jupiter to cool off and swing past Mercury to warm it up. Repeat until the mirror works again. Or did someone neglect to mount the Orion Drive on the probe?

Re:You could... (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 8 years ago | (#15290913)

Sounds like the recipe for fixing stuck Quantum Bigfoot drives. This is the advice that we got from Compaq many years ago (after putting them in a freezer baggie sealed closed with as little air inside as possible), when I was just starting out as a desktop tech, and we had several drives fail. Trouble was, we had information we needed from them, and no one wanted to pay for professional data recovery.

BTW, if this failed, we were to turn them on their side, one specific edge down, and rap it hard on a table. That actually worked more often than the freezer deal.

Re:You could... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15295554)

I was doing this back in the bad old days of MFM to Seagate (seizegate) drives. I have a slightly different method, though; put the drive upside down on a soft surface, and whack the corner of the case with a plastic screwdriver handle (moving the tool along the plane of the drive's rotation.) Older seagate drives (everything half height or bigger, and from back in the day) had serious and recurring stiction problems. Of course, back then everything used the coarse thread screws (except the slot bays in my PC-1) and it wasn't such a pisser to pull drives, whack 'em, and reinstall.

Re:You could... (2, Funny)

corngrower (738661) | more than 8 years ago | (#15289640)

Damn those power mirrors. They always start sticking after the warranty is up.

Re:You could... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15289823)

They could do a Mercury fly-by.

Top reason for human spaceflight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15293334)

If all else fails, give it a good swift kick.

This is the best reason for putting humans into space: so they can kick the damn equipment if it stops working.

Hammer, Feather, Freefall on the Moon: Revisited (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15289329)

"Fall heavy towards the moon, and the moon falls also towards you." -- Nietzsche

Hammer and feather are dropped simultaneously from equal heights (as measured by distance from the center of the moon), separated laterally by a distance substantially less than the moon's diameter. Both hammer and feather experience force from the moon's gravity proportional to their mass, and hence both accelerate at the same rate. Meanwhile, the moon is also accelerating towards the other two objects, but unevenly so: the hammer exerts a greater gravitational pull due to its greater mass. The moon is therefore subject to a torque, causing it to accelerate more rapidly towards the hammer.

The hammer is first to hit the ground.

Anyone who denies this truth is a spatially absolutist lunocentric whose refusal to recognize the validity of hammer mechanics/experience places him wholly beyond the help of Galilean metaphysics. Such hammer (feather) rejectionists ought to be banished to the stars, for their own good and for the good of not only hammers and feathers but all subjugated smaller objects, everywhere, who find themselves victims of this scientifically perpetrated emassculation.

--
a756f345ec354225c08ff1a10a43162a

With the string of bad luck the ESA has had, (0, Troll)

Clockwurk (577966) | more than 8 years ago | (#15289351)

maybe they should just leave the tough stuff to the smarter people at NASA.

Re:With the string of bad luck the ESA has had, (2, Insightful)

Monkeys!!! (831558) | more than 8 years ago | (#15289391)

Let's do that! I'm happy with having a vital industry existing in a market with very little competition. That's sure to encourage progress and foster innovation! /sarcasm

Re:With the string of bad luck the ESA has had, (1)

Keebler71 (520908) | more than 8 years ago | (#15289469)

Passe [wikipedia.org]

Re:With the string of bad luck the ESA has had, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15289521)

now now, we dont want the probe to crash INTO venus ;)

Re:With the string of bad luck the ESA has had, (5, Informative)

mlflegel (413793) | more than 8 years ago | (#15291392)

I work in the flight dynamics team for VenusExpress at ESA and I can't let this comment stand. Even though the poster meant it as a joke (I hope ;), I don't think having smarter people is the issue. I think it is a matter of experience and money.

We are just beginning to expand beyond near-earth to the interplanetary part of space exploration. VenusExpress is only our fourth interplanetary mission (we count going to the moon as interplanetary). Nonethless, we've arrived at Venus without any problems in the spacecraft systems (this excludes instruments). We've reached our target orbit to within 0.3 seconds (sic!). We only could do this by applying what we'd learned on the previous missions; Smart-1, Rosetta, and MarsExpress.

As for money, our budget is a tenth of NASA's budget. To save cost, VenusExpress was basically built from MarsExpress spare parts. This brings a few problems with it, due to the different geometries: Venus being so much closer to the Sun than Mars, and being inside Earth's orbit poses a whole new set of thermal problems.

Re:With the string of bad luck the ESA has had, (2, Interesting)

helioquake (841463) | more than 8 years ago | (#15291537)

Since you are a flight dynamics person, you probably wouldn't know but...

What do they use to flip a mirror in place(switch back from a calibration lamp)? These movable things are often used in other missions and it's good to know what type of hardware would malfunction like this.

Re:With the string of bad luck the ESA has had, (1)

mlflegel (413793) | more than 8 years ago | (#15291602)

You're right, I don't know, sorry. But from people talking I got the impression that it was a servo. Is this possible? A quick look at the user manual revealed that it was a few thousand pages thick, so I didn't go looking for an answer there.

oh GREAT! (1)

timepilot (116247) | more than 8 years ago | (#15292333)

Oh, just *great*.

If YOU have the friggin manual HERE, how the hell are the VENUSIANS supposed to figure out how fix the friggin' mirror THERE?!?!

Re:With the string of bad luck the ESA has had, (1)

obnoxiousbastard (239578) | more than 8 years ago | (#15295977)

ESA has a very good track record.

XMM Newton, Mars Express and Venus Express, even considering this glitch, have all done very well.

Their program is following the robotic rather than manned approach to exploration, as has been suggested by many scientests. They are getting a lot more science for their buck (or Euro).

ESA, as opposed to NASA, has put scientific objectives first rather than political ones.

Re:With the string of bad luck the ESA has had, (1)

ggreen001 (973813) | more than 8 years ago | (#15296332)

Gut gesagt, Herr Doktor Flegel. And damn good English, too!

The CSA could help here (4, Funny)

Mindwarp (15738) | more than 8 years ago | (#15289465)

I believe the CSA [space.gc.ca] have been developing the CanadFinger for just this purpose. Any time something like this sticks you can robotically prod it from the safety of your nice warm Mission Control.



Note - The above post is humorous in content, and does not intend to violate patents past or present on the "Design and Implementation of Remote Digit Activation Devices"

Re:The CSA could help here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15289627)

Anyone else look at the picture from the link in parent and scratch their head.
.
.
.
Group Think?

BB

Spaceballs... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#15289622)

If it was raspberry jam, blame Barf!

Re:Spaceballs... (1)

LouisZepher (643097) | more than 8 years ago | (#15290595)

-1 {Incorrect reference} "THere's only one man who would dare to give me the raspberry. Lonestar!"

Re:Spaceballs... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#15290778)

Obviously, you have no idea where that jam came from. Barf!

Should take a trick from NASA's playbook (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15289625)

The ESA should have learned from NASA, and gone with the strategy that has brought such success to the Space Shuttle program: Keep all spacecraft and instruments on the ground on earth, where if something bad happens like a mirror getting out of place, a technician can easily fix it.

Re:Should take a trick from NASA's playbook (2, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#15289656)

You got it backwards. Ground the manned space program to keep everyone safe from large shuttle parts raining down from the sky, cancelled the science space program to save money to get the manned space program off the ground in the next century, and let the politicians spend all the money on freeways to nowhere. :P

Re: Should take a trick from NASA's playbook (5, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 8 years ago | (#15289764)

> The ESA should have learned from NASA, and gone with the strategy that has brought such success to the Space Shuttle program: Keep all spacecraft and instruments on the ground on earth, where if something bad happens like a mirror getting out of place, a technician can easily fix it.

Yes, the moon missions would never have been possible if they hadn't kept everything on the ground in Arizona.

Re:Should take a trick from NASA's playbook (1)

ILKO_deresolution (352578) | more than 8 years ago | (#15290009)

Yeah ,no crap, we've only spent about 145 billion dollars on that pOs!
Oh and as our brother Nelson would say "Heeeee Heeeee"

props to robotic nation

Re:Should take a trick from NASA's playbook (1)

ILKO_deresolution (352578) | more than 8 years ago | (#15324475)

I wish the world as a whole could have the data avalible but that was personal!
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