Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Mars Camera's Worsening Eye Problems

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the ringing-in-the-eyes dept.

Mars 93

Mr_Foo writes "According to a Nature article, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE imager is suffering from a loss of peripheral vision. The problem surfaced less than a month after the orbiter reached Mars. One the camera's four color detectors has completely stopped working, and it is feared that the problems are spreading. Currently seven of the fourteen HiRISE's detectors are sending back corrupted data and although the issue is only creating a 2% loss of signal at this time it is expected to worsen. The lead investigator for the mission is quoted as saying the problem is systemic: 'In the broken detectors, extra peaks and troughs are somehow being introduced, causing... a "ringing" in the signal. "We don't know where the ringing is coming from," [the investigator] says.' Warming the electronics before taking images seems to help the problem. This effect might be one reason why the detectors on the cold periphery of the array were the first to pack up."

cancel ×

93 comments

Ringing? Duh! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17976216)

"We don't know where the ringing is coming from," [the investigator] says.
Did anyone remember to put the rover on the do not call registry?

Re:Ringing? Duh! (0, Offtopic)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976320)

Time to try a different ringtone?

Re:Ringing? Duh! (1)

wik (10258) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976642)

E.T. phone home?

Re:Ringing? Duh! (1)

danlock4 (1026420) | more than 7 years ago | (#17977154)

Ring around the rosy,
pocket full of posies,
ashes, ashes, we all fail to transmit uncorrupted data....

I suspect I know where it is coming from (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17977550)

What do you expect when you read this description in one of their astronauts' bios:

http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/nowak.html [nasa.gov]
[emph added]
PERSONAL DATA: Born May 10, 1963, in Washington, D.C. Married, with three children. Lisa enjoys bicycling, running, skeet, sailing, gourmet cooking, rubber stamps, crossword puzzles, piano, and African violets. As an undergraduate she competed on the track team. Her parents, Alfredo and Jane Caputo, reside in Rockville, Maryland.

Re:I suspect I know where it is coming from (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17978730)

Well, it's a shooting sport ;-)

Re:I suspect I know where it is coming from (1)

8ball629 (963244) | more than 7 years ago | (#17979674)

In more than one way.

Re:Ringing? Duh! (2, Informative)

Alioth (221270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981280)

While your post is obviously a joke (I note that when there's a story with elements many Slashdotters don't understand, they make corny jokes about it), it's probably worth mentioning what ringing in this context actually is.

"Ringing", in electronics, is small unwanted oscillations in the signal. It is usually caused by stray capacitances and inductances in the circuit. Stray capacitances and inductances are caused not by components in the circuit, but just the innate capacitances etc. of things like tracks on the printed circuit board (two PCB tracks close together naturally form a very small capacitor). A great deal of thought is needed in laying out some printed circuit boards to minimize stray capacitances and inductances.

Re:Ringing? Duh! (1)

corpsmoderne (1007311) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981786)

The parent's comment is funny, but I just want to point out that we're talking about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter , which as the name illustrates is absolutely not a rover (like the Mars Exploration Rovers...), but is orbiting Mars...

Re:Ringing? Duh! (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982414)

Actually, NASA has a long history of problems [wikipedia.org] with rings.

-Eric

the probe's got a cell phone (4, Funny)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976230)

"We don't know where the ringing is coming from,"

I can only imagine what that roaming charge looks like.

Re:the probe's got a cell phone (-1, Offtopic)

deopmix (965178) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976242)

They should have gone with Cingular, then they wouldn't have to worry about the dropped periphery vision and the dropped colors. And if they were dropped, they could at least get a credit on their bill.

Re:the probe's got a cell phone (0)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976268)

They should have gone with Cingular

Are you kidding? Cingular will charge you upwards of $31,000 [heraldtribune.com] for calls you didn't even make.

Re:the probe's got a cell phone (0)

pdbaby (609052) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976516)

Are you kidding? Cingular will charge you upwards of $31,000 for calls you didn't even make.

So you're saying that if I switch to Cingular will they credit me $31,000 for calls that they didn't even drop?

Actually, the rover is just being smart... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17976916)

By not picking up the calls from NASA to avoid roaming charges. If NASA stops contacting the rover there would no longer be ringing. Sheesh this isn't rocket science!

Re:the probe's got a cell phone (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#17977848)

I can only imagine what that roaming charge looks like.

I'm sure it's "billions and billions" [amazon.com] . :)

uh oh (2, Funny)

jswigart (1004637) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976246)

Maybe the transformers are messing with it.

Re:uh oh (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17981504)

RF interference would of shown up in the lab when the rover was built and then bench tested.

Re:uh oh = Transformers Movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17982494)

"RF interference would of shown up in the lab when the rover was built and then bench tested."

I'm pretty sure he was talking about THE "Transformers". As in the old cartoon that is being released as a live action movie soon.

The new movie opens with NASA looking at the final footage taken by one of the Mars rovers that has mysteriously stopped sending video/data. The last second of it's video shows a "TRANSFORMER" approaching it and then destroying it! Or something like that.

So please change the grandparent from "Offtopic" to "Funny".

Can you... (0, Redundant)

hempola (974426) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976248)

Can you see me now?.....

Can you see me now?.....

This is all just (-1, Offtopic)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976276)

Bush's fault. If we were not in Iraq this would not be a problem.
Lame joke or irrational hatred? You decide.

The first thing that came into my mind. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17976288)

So, masturbation does cause blindness, only not for humans? Well, someone has to take the hit, after all. Karma.. it makes sense.

Re:The first thing that came into my mind. (3, Funny)

Anomolous Cowturd (190524) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976352)

Don't you mean marsturbation?

I know Microsoft wants to plug the analog hole... (0)

Teresita (982888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976408)

But jeez, couldn't they grant an exception for Mars camera software?

Surpising? No. (1, Interesting)

Icarus1919 (802533) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976310)

I don't know why anyone is every surprised when stuff goes wrong on missions, or equipment breaks down. Nasa is a governmental agency and as such has a big beaurocratic morass, and often different divisions don't know what the others are doing. I used to date the daughter of the Vice President of Operations at Nasa. The first time I ever got to talk to him, I was so excited; I asked him about an upcoming mission that was going to be taking off. It might actually have been this one, it was a year or two ago when it left. He actually hadn't heard about the mission; I had to describe it to him.

Re:Surpising? No. (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976476)

Nasa is a governmental agency and as such has a big beaurocratic morass, and often different divisions don't know what the others are doing.

That is because they try to compartmentalize the probe and then subcontract out the subsystems based on specifications. The cameras are probably built by a commercial firm that specializes in space cameras, not the government. The people who designed the camera may not know which mission it flies on if they don't keep up on news. NASA has been sending Mars orbiters roughly once every 7 years such that if a gizmo does not make it on one probe, they include it on the next flight. Thus, individual contract workers may not know which mission its on until the probe is actually assembled and launched, and the worker may have moved to a different project since that time such that they are not exposed to such info anymore if they don't explicitly probe for it (pun).

Re:Surpising? No. (5, Insightful)

pnot (96038) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976566)

I don't know why anyone is every surprised when stuff goes wrong on missions, or equipment breaks down. Nasa is a governmental agency and as such has a big beaurocratic morass...

NASA was a governmental agency when they successfully landed human beings on the moon and brought them safely back to earth. They were a governmental agency when they sent out Voyager 1, currently leaving the solar system and still operational after thirty years. Certainly NASA's administration appears to have been getting a bit top-heavy of late, but it's short-sighted to put that down to the simple fact of NASA being a governmental agency.

The fact is, space exploration is hard. Things go wrong all the time, on both commercial and government-agency missions. For a far more dramatic commercial-sector cock-up, you only have to look back two weeks to the latest Sea Launch disaster [spaceflightnow.com] .

I'm all for private investment in space, but as far as I know no commercial mission has yet made it out of Earth's gravity well. Good luck to Burt Rutan et al., but I think it'll be a while before they land anyone on the moon, or get a probe as far as Mars.

The second best camera around Mars (3, Informative)

YA_Python_dev (885173) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976974)

I completely agree with you: the problem with space missions is that even a very small problem can be unsolvable if the hardware is more than 100 million km away!

But even if we completely lose the camera, it will be a big problem but not a disaster for science: there are currently 3 operational spacecrafts orbiting Mars (2 American + 1 European) and High Resolution Stereo Camera [esa.int] on ESA Mars Express [esa.int] , the second best camera after HiRISE with a resolution of up to 2 metre/pixel, is still working and sending back beautiful images [esa.int] .

Re:Surpising? No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17977326)

Someone said - "The fact is, space exploration is hard. Things go wrong all the time, on both commercial and government-agency missions. For a far more dramatic commercial-sector cock-up, you only have to look back two weeks to the latest Sea Launch disaster [spaceflightnow.com]" ...

The issue is spacecraft flight software and hardware is hard ... there could be noise interference from one of the instruments (such as the radios) ... The camera is a critical piece of the mission, I hope this gets fixed.

Re:Surpising? No. (2, Funny)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976680)

This anecdote can't be true. Absolutely not.

Who's heard of a /.er dating someone?

Re: Surprising? Yes. (5, Insightful)

fsh (751959) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976706)

First off, inside NASA, all projects are referred to by particular names and acronyms, and you'll often see people that aren't aware of the 'street name' of a particular project.

Second, the office of operations is more into the financial stuff than the technical stuff. That'd be like asking Linus Torvald's banker about the next Linux release.

Third, although NASA is a governmental agency, is has a disproportionate number of extremely intelligent and driven engineers and scientists on board. This is evidenced by the simple fact that although we have put millions of dollars into orbit around Mars, people *expect* it to work perfectly every time. The reason we're looking up there is that we *don't* know everything; perhaps these problems indicate an unexpected radiation belt or dust belt around Mars; maybe the problem was during the aerobraking which somehow didn't go as expected.

To simply blame it on the bureaucracy inherent in any large organization is intellectually indolent at best. Any undertaking this huge will, by its very nature, involve many people doing many different things, and as such will be infested with bureaucracy. This does not mean that all such projects are doomed to failure by way of miscommunication;quite the opposite in fact.

From your post:
I used to date the daughter of the Vice President of Operations at Nasa.
Please do not take your failings in communication out on NASA.

Re: Surprising? Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17977784)

I used to date the daughter of the Vice President of Operations at Nasa.
Please do not take your failings in communication out on NASA.
You win.

Re:Surpising? No. (1)

Annymouse Cowherd (1037080) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976968)

I used to date the daughter of the Vice President of Operations at Nasa. The first time I ever got to talk to him, I was so excited; So, we're dealing with a transsexual here?

Re:Surpising? No. (1, Interesting)

Valar (167606) | more than 7 years ago | (#17977020)

While there are disadvantages to publically funded space exploration, it might be necessary in a lot of cases if we want certain research done. There was/is no profit motive for lunar exploration or mars exploration, for example. Therefore, there would be no incentive for a private corporation to ever step foot out there. The only forseeable reason for a private company to set up base on the moon or mars would be to sell things to people already living there. If nobody is willing to land, then nobody will live there. It's a catch 22.

Re:Surpising? No. (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#17977220)

You were excited to meet your girlfriend's father? Somethings wrong with you. ;)

Re:Surpising? No. (1)

ediron2 (246908) | more than 7 years ago | (#17979434)

Slashdot. Nerd. Date's dad was a VP at NASA. Excited to meet him.

Seems patently clear and logical to me.

I am an erstwhile fan of good chefs and brilliant engineering, but couldn't care less about actors and politicians and the society page types. The something wrong isn't with us. It's with the rest of the world.

Re:Surpising? No. (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981216)

A quick tip: Bureau + cracy = bureaucracy (remember just to add 'cracy' to bureau whenever you want to spell that word, then you won't wrote 'beaurocracy').

In any case, I think people's expectations are unrealistically high at expecting an almost perfect success record on a machine in an environment we know little about, a couple of AU from Earth. Bureaucracy has little to do with it. A success rate of Mars of over 50% is stunningly successful if you think about what it takes to send hardware that far and have it still working afterwards.

Re:Surpising? No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986474)

Are you sure you understood the job title right? For all I can tell from your post it may have been the VP of Janitorial Operations. Or he may have been VP of operations of a particular NASA center that has nothing to do with the mission in question. You will find very quickly when you enter the working world that nobody in a company knows everything that's going on, no matter how high up they are. As number of responsibilities increase, expertise decreases. It's a necessary form of hierarchy.

What I really wanted to point out is that the camera was not built by NASA. It was specified by NASA requirements and built under contract by the University of Arizona and Ball Aerospace, with subcontracts to many other companies specializing in particular technologies relevant to the system. Not to pass the buck, but problems happen, and sometimes it's not your fault.

Also, despite this issue, MRO is expected to set the record for data transmitted from Mars sometime this month...after having only operated for 3 months!

Re:Surpising? No. (1)

GWBasic (900357) | more than 7 years ago | (#18002934)

I don't know why anyone is every surprised when stuff goes wrong on missions, or equipment breaks down. Nasa is a governmental agency and as such has a big beaurocratic morass, and often different divisions don't know what the others are doing.

The fact that things go wrong has nothing to do with beuracracy. Whenever you build a [big complex device] that runs in [an environment that's difficult to reproduce] and you don't have an opportunity to fix things once they leave your workbench, the risk of failure is quite high. The fact that many of our space probes have failures is unavoidable; we really won't be able to increase our success rate until we can cheaply send lots of engineers to space so that they can perform better testing and gain more experience.

Its all lies (5, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976332)

Its all lies.
The camera is not sending back corrupted images, it is selectively censoring the portions of mars which contain sensitive terrorist targets.

All is not lost yet though, just look at one of the amazing images [arizona.edu] from todays bundle, it shows gullies within a crater.
I really hope they manage to solve this problem.

Next time... (0)

gd23ka (324741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976334)

test those Cameras in Earth orbit first.

Re:Next time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17976848)

Your comment is pretty funny considering the fact that HiRISE is essentially identical to many of the terrestrial remote sensing spacecraft that are orbiting the earth right now.

Re:Next time... (3, Informative)

Aerovoid (590728) | more than 7 years ago | (#17977174)

Well the thing is, most (if not all) interplanetary probes do not get launched into Earth orbit first. The MRO, for example, was launched into a Hohmann transfer orbit. Even if they were to have tested it in Earth orbit first and found something was wrong, then what? It's not like the shuttle could just go up and get it either.

Fiingerprint (4, Funny)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976336)

TFA shows an image with a huge fingerprint in the middle of a crater. Either the lens is dirty or that was a very large Martian...

A Damn Shame (4, Informative)

fsh (751959) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976376)

Although the rovers are certainly the superstars of Mars research, the MRO has provided more usable data than any other Mars mission so far. I certainly hope they can fix this problem, or at least work around it; the MRO should have many years of good science left in its system. I believe that the primary mission is scheduled to run through 2008 and then extended missions will be tacked on after that.

Incidentally, this is the camera that could pick out the rovers from orbit [nasa.gov] . Losing definition on this camera would certainly impact one of the missions objectives, which is to look for good landing spots for future missions (robotic and human).

Camera problems common of late? (3, Informative)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976416)

I've read about a fair number of camera problems on fairly recent missions. Cassinni had unexpected fogging problems that appeared to be reduced by heating. The comet collider companion craft (forgot name) also had blurred vision of some kind. Perhaps they are pushing the limits of camera technology and feeling the effects.

Re:Camera problems common of late? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981062)

These are all one-off designs that spend years in one of the more hostile environments for optics and electronics that science has discovered. Should we be surprised that there's a host of little flaws showing up?

Re:Camera problems common of late? (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985662)

Should we be surprised that there's a host of little flaws showing up?
Everyone has little flaws coming up when they're past their prime. Those crafts should be designed to squint a little, that's all.

More detail on HiRISE (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17976422)

Wikipedia link for some more background on HiRISE

http://www.hugeurl.com/?ZDNlMDVkMDI1N2Y0YWUxMmU5OW Q2NjQ3YjZlZmVhYTYmMTEmVm0wd2QyUXlWa2hWV0doVVYwZG9j RlZ0TVZOWFZsbDNXa1JTVjFac2JETlhhMk0xVjBaS2MySkVUbG hoTVhCUVZteFZlRll5VGtsalJtaG9UV3N3ZUZadGNFdFRNVTVJ Vm10a1dHSkdjSEJXTUZwSFRURmFjVkZ0UmxSTmF6RTFWVEowVj FaWFNrbFJiR2hYWWxob00xWldXbUZrUlRGWlkwZDRVMkpIZHpG V2EyUXdZVEZrU0ZOclpHcFRSVXBZVkZWa1UyUnNjRmRYYlVacV lrWmFlVmRyV25kV01ERkZVbFJDVjAxdVVuWlZha1pYWkVaT2Nt SkdTbWxXUjNoWFZtMHdlR0l4U2tkaVNFWlRZbGhTV1ZWcVJrdF RWbFowWlVoa1YwMUVSa1pXYkdoclZqSkZlVlZZWkZkaGExcFlX a1ZhVDJOdFJrZFhiV3hvVFVoQ1dsWXhXbE5TTWxGNVVtdGtXRm RIYUZsWmJGWmhZMVpzY2xwR1RrNVNia0pIVmpKNFQxWlhTbFpq UldSYVRVWmFlbFpxU2t0V1ZrWlpZVVprYUdFeGNEWldiWEJIVk RKU1YxZHVUbFJpVjNoVVZGY3hiMWRXV1hoYVJFSm9UV3RzTkZV eWRHdFdiVXB6VTI1T1ZtRnJOVlJaTVZwelkyeGtkRkp0ZUZkaV ZrbzFWakowVTFFeFdsaFRhMlJwVWtaS1YxUlhOVk5sYkZweFUy dDBWMVpyV2xwWlZWcHJZVWRGZUdOR2JGaGhNVnBvVmtSS1QyUk dUbkphUmxKcFZqTm9WVlpHV2xka01sSnpWMjVTVGxkSFVsWlVW M1J6VGtac2NsZHRkR2hpUlhBd1ZsZDRjMWR0U2toaFJsSlhUVV p3YUZwRlpFOU9iRXB6WVVkc1UwMHlhRmxXYWtvd1lXczFXRkpy WkZoaWF6VnhWVzAxUTFZeFduRlViRTVyWWtad2VGVnRkREJoYX pGeVRsVndWMDF1YUdoWmEyUkdaVWRPU1dKR1pGZFNWWEJ2Vmxo d1MxVXhXWGhWYmxaVVlrVktXRmxzV2t0bGJHUllaVWM1YVUxWF VucFdNV2h2VjBkS1dWVnVUbHBYU0VKSVZqQmFXbVZYVWtoa1Iy aHBVbGhDV1ZacVNqUlZNV1J6V2tWc1VtSnVRbUZVVmxwM1ZrWm FjVkp0ZEd0U2EzQXdXbFZhYTJGWFJYZGpSV3hYWWxoQ1RGcFhj ekZXTVdSellVWlNhRTFzU25oV1Z6RTBaREZrUjJKSVRtaFNhel ZQVkZaYWMwMHhXWGxsU0dScFVqQndTRll5Y0VOWGJGcFhZMGhL VjFaRldreFdha3BQVTBVNVYxcEdaRTVOUlhCS1ZqRmFVMU14Vl hoWFdHaFdZbXhhVlZsclZrdFhSbXh6VjJ0MFdGWnNjRWhXYlho UFZXMUdObEpzVGxaU2JFWXpWVVpGT1ZCUlBUMD0= [hugeurl.com]

Re:More detail on HiRISE (0, Offtopic)

Dunwich (155562) | more than 7 years ago | (#17977108)

That URL is INSANE. You should use tinyurl.com to make it more readable.
You can find tinyurl.com here -> http://www.hugeurl.com/?ZWU0ODFjMTg5MGVmMjEyYzFlOG EzMWZmMzQ4MDQ2MjcmMTMmVm0wd2QyUXlVWGxWV0d4WFlUSm9W MVl3Wkc5V1ZsbDNXa2M1YWxKc1dqQlVWbHBQVjBaYWMySkVUbG hoTVVwVVZtcEdZV015U2tWVWJHaG9UV3N3ZUZacVFtRlRNazE1 VTJ0V1ZXSkhhRzlVVm1oRFZWWmFkR1ZHV214U2JHdzFWa2QwYz JGc1NuUmhSemxWVmpOT00xcFZXbUZrUjA1R1pFWlNUbFpVVmtw V2JURXdZVEZrU0ZOclpHcFRSVXBZVkZWYWQxTkdVbFZTYlVacV ZtdGFNRlZ0ZUZOVWJVWTJVbFJHVjFaRmIzZFdha1poVjBaT2Nt SkdTbWxTTW1oWlYxZDRiMkl3TUhoWGJHUllZbFZhY2xWc1VrZF hiR3QzV2tSU1ZrMXJjRWxhU0hCSFZqSkZlVlZZWkZwV1JWcHlW VEJhVDJOc2NFaGpSbEpUVmxoQ1dsWnJXbGRoTVZWNVZXNU9hbE p0VWxsWmJGWmhZMVpzY2xkdFJteFdiVko1VmpJMWExWXdNVVZT YTFwV1lrWktSRlpxUVhoa1ZsWjFWMnhhYUdFeGNGbFhhMVpoVk RKT2RGTnJaRlJpVjNoWVZXcE9iMWRHV25STlNHUnNVakJzTkZV eWRHdGhWazVHVjJ4U1dtSkhhRlJXTVZwWFkxWktjbVJHVWxkaV JtOTNWMnhXYjJFeFdYZE5WVlpUWVRGd1dGbHJaRzlqYkZweFUy dGFiRlpzV2xwWGExcHJZVWRGZUdOR2FGaGlSbkJvVmtSS1QyUk dTbkphUm1ocFZqTm9WVlpHWTNoaU1sSnpWMjVTVGxkSFVsWlVW M1J6VGxaV2RHUkhkRmROYTNCNVZHeGFjMWR0U2toaFJsSlhUVV p3VkZacVJuZFNNVkp5VGxaT2FXRXdjRWxXYlhCTFRrWlJlRmRz YUZSaVJuQnhWV3hrVTFsV1VsWlhiVVpPVFZad2VGVXlkREJWTU RGeVRsVndWMDFxUmtoV1ZFWkxWMVpHY21KR1pGZE5NRXBKVm10 U1MxVXhXWGhhU0ZaVllrWktjRlpxU205bGJHUllaVWM1YVUxcm JEUldNalZUVkd4a1NGVnNXbFZXYkhCWVZHdGFhMk5zV25Sa1Jt UnBWbGhDTmxaVVNURlVNVnAwVW01S1QxWnNTbUZVVmxwM1pXeH JlV1ZJWkZOTlZrcDVWR3hhVDJGV1NuUlBWRTVYWVRGd2FGbHFT a1psVmtweVdrWm9hV0Y2Vm5oV1ZFSnZVVEZzVjFWc1dsaGliVk p5V1d0YWQyVkdWblJrUkVKV1RXdHdTVlpYY0VOWGJGcFhZMFJP V21FeVVrZGFWV1JQVTBVNVYyRkdhRlJTVlhCS1ZqRmFVMU14VV hsVVdHaGhVMFphVmxscldrdGpSbFp4VW10MFYxWnNjRWhXVjNS TFlUQXhSVkpzVGxaU2JFWXpWVVpGT1ZCUlBUMD0= [hugeurl.com]

Re:More detail on HiRISE (1)

dave1g (680091) | more than 7 years ago | (#17977388)

lmfao hugeurl!!! Who modded this troll? this is both informative, it is in fact the wikipedia link, and funny.

No pictures (2, Interesting)

heroine (1220) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976524)

This is probably the first time not a single story about a defect in an image sensor had pictures showing the effects of the defect.

Re:No pictures (3, Informative)

fsh (751959) | more than 7 years ago | (#17977834)

In this case, the problem isn't the optics involved (like when they showed before and after pictures of the Hubble problem), but in the circuitry to transmit the images from the CCD to the antenna. Check out this schematic [arizona.edu] . If you look at the top picture, all the way on the right, you'll see 14 stylized circuit boards; that's where the problem is.

Because it's a circuitry/transmission problem, they can essentially recover the image from a particular detector or not. For the 'ringing' problem they've mentioned, if it's a small enough effect they can subtract it from the data.

Also in that picture, they show the 'focal plane assembly'; this is essentially a separate CCD for each color filter used (except the red color which goes all the way across). The problem is very bad in one of the IR chips; bad enough that they can't use the data at all.

In other words, it's a problem with the digital transmission. Just like for digital phone, radio, or TV; you either get a usable signal (perhaps with some drops) or no signal at all.

Re:No pictures (1)

mikael (484) | more than 7 years ago | (#17978616)

Could moisture/dust be getting into the circuitry? The article does mention that heating the system up seems to help.

Re:No pictures (1)

fsh (751959) | more than 7 years ago | (#17979280)

Heating it up in this case is just slang for turning it on before actually using it; there's not really a heater per se. I did find this from a NASA white paper:

Low-noise CCD performance was attained at a rate of 16 Mpix/s. 128 levels of time delay and integration (TDI) is used to achieve a signal-to-noise ratio of >150:1, but requires precision timing in the electronics and a quiet spacecraft.
The fact that the problem is semi-harmonic certainly seems to indicate some sort of short (like a ground-hum in a poorly installed car radio). The bad news is that the project leaders do not seem optimistic about correcting this problem (or even finding the cause). The first part to fail was one of the IR sensors, and IIRC it failed after orbit insertion (ie, after aerobraking), while the other problems are more recent.

Earlier in this same paper [nasa.gov] they also mention that a temperature of 20 Celsius is kept throughout the spacecraft, so there should be no fogging problems at all. Cassini had to run around Venus twice to get to Saturn, and hence had to worry with both heating and cooling; it was far more complex beastie.

It needs weed (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17976558)

Loss of peripheral vision? Sounds like the Mars Rover has glaucoma. Hope Mars is herb friendly.

Slowly degenerate? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976564)

Does anybody know what kind of defect would create slow degeneration of the type described? Can the cold or tempurature cycling cause tiny cracks in the silicon or the like? Wouldn't they have looked into that and tested the equipment in expected conditions? I assume it is a solid-state system, other than the aiming mechanisms, which aren't the problem.

Re:Slowly degenerate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17976864)

My "I skimmed the summary at best" answer is ringing + gradually worse = harmonics. Some vibrations with increasingly large peaks shaking something apart. That's just a random non-fact-supported answer more intended to say "well yea there are things that could do this without government conspiracy or extreme stupidity" then "this is what happened."

Re:Slowly degenerate? (4, Interesting)

starman97 (29863) | more than 7 years ago | (#17977172)

I read that as ringing in the electrical signal. Possible caused by a ground on a coax cable working loose
or maybe a component failing due to thermal cycling or cold stress.

The boards are built at room temperature, it's pretty cold in space if the sun isnt shining on something.
Parts contract and if whatever they're attached to doesnt contract at the same rate, if can loosen things
or even crack them over time. Qualifying parts for that sort of thermal stress is what makes things cost so
much for Space Grade parts. It's also where they try to save money, only test 10 parts instead of 100 or
only test for 10 day/night thermal cycles instead of 1000. It's always easy to say after the fact that
they should use better, more expensive parts, but sometimes if you do, the mission goes over budget and
doesnt get done at all.

Re:Slowly degenerate? (1)

Ignis Flatus (689403) | more than 7 years ago | (#17978108)

it could be anything really. uneven temps across a circuit can change the relative values of analog components to change the dynamics of the circuit to be unstable. cracked or "cold" solder joints can cause problems. etc. you'd think somebody would have run the circuits in adverse conditions, and maybe even using cold spray on it to simulate uneven heating, but you know how NASA and company is about testing these days. testing costs money, and if there's not a safety of flight issue, it probably doesn't get much attention. could be anything really, and it's not likely you'll ever know what. some unforseen environmental factor, or maybe it just broke.

Re:Slowly degenerate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17978272)

All satellites and such undergo environmental testing, among other testing to simulate launch vibrations and such. Its something that has to be done.

Here is an article on the testing done to MRO 2 years ago.

http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/technology /mr_o_tech_050119.html [space.com]

Re:Slowly degenerate? (1)

Thuktun (221615) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985194)

but sometimes if you do, the mission goes over budget and
doesnt get done at all.
It's not clear to me that staying within budget--but degenerating shortly after arrival--is a better option, particularly when the spacecraft as a whole costs three quarters of a billion US dollars.

Re:Slowly degenerate? (1)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 7 years ago | (#17977166)

Actually, it sounds somewhat similar to the Samsung camcorder I had that had a Sony CCD the went bad. Sony recalled thousands of cameras, movie and snapshot type, due to bad ccds.

Re:Slowly degenerate? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17977476)

Actually, it sounds somewhat similar to the Samsung camcorder I had that had a Sony CCD the went bad. Sony recalled thousands of cameras, movie and snapshot type, due to bad ccds.

Did they gradually grow worse, or were they bad out of the showroom? Google-time I guess. Hard to believe that lessons from Sony's error may save a Mars mission :-)
       

Re:Slowly degenerate? (1)

ScrappyLaptop (733753) | more than 7 years ago | (#17979380)

Many went bad gradually; the sensors were not sealed properly and moisture eventually found it's way in. I had one that was able to compensate for a while by periodically remapping the pixels, but eventually the ability to form a clear image was completely lost. If you thought the thousands of consumer camera recalls cost Sony, you ought to see what this recall is going to cost them!

Re:Slowly degenerate? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17988170)

the sensors were not sealed properly and moisture eventually found it's way in.

That probably won't be a problem for a probe in orbit. Although, I suppose if they are not sealed as intended, then some noxious internal fumes may be getting in and messing them up.
         

Re:Slowly degenerate? (1)

ScrappyLaptop (733753) | more than 7 years ago | (#17990182)

You do know that the whole "Mars probe uses the Sony consumer camera sensors" thing is just a joke, right? It was limited to a set group of consumer CCD's manufactured during a certain time window at certain plant(s), etc. I highly doubt that NASA was using the same low grade equipment.

Re:Slowly degenerate? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17992184)

We are just wondering about the type of things that can cause the problem described. Sony's problems *may* be a hint.

I am the eye in the sky, looking at you...... (1)

alienuforia (1009777) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976574)

Ooh, I can read your mind.

Am I the only one ... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976740)

... who initially read the title as stating that a mars camera is making eye problems worse?
Well, I'm glad that I don't own one. :-)

At this rate... (1)

GFree (853379) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976782)

...the next probes/rovers are going to require prescription glasses.

Service mission (1)

plj (673710) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976826)

Now that Hubble service mission has been given green light, may be NASA could do yet another service mission to fix this!

Oh, wait...

Re:Service mission (1)

fyoder (857358) | more than 7 years ago | (#17979118)

Now that Hubble service mission has been given green light, may be NASA could do yet another service mission to fix this!

Sounds good to me, any excuse for a manned mission. And it does point up a reason for manned missions. Humans are good at fixing things on site. Fixed a dicky server just this morning. Not on Mars though. That would be an amazing on site support contract. Serious overtime.

Ophthalmologist (1)

Herdinori (1062958) | more than 7 years ago | (#17976912)

"Orbiter's HiRISE imager is suffering from a loss of (...) vision"
Yeh...It needs eyeglasses.

Obligatory... (2, Funny)

WorldDominationOrBus (1050248) | more than 7 years ago | (#17977352)

The goggles, they do nothing!

No, it's a sub-carrier signal! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17977462)

They just need to decode it, and then we'll have a blueprint of a machine we have to build, and... and...

How Hirise works (3, Interesting)

heroine (1220) | more than 7 years ago | (#17977814)

Seem to recall the Hirise sensors have 256 cells for every column. Each cell samples the same point of light. The 256 samples are averaged to give a final result. Motion of the camera repeats the process for the next row. If 4 cells in a column die, you should get a 2% reduction in dynamic range, but far better than any consumer camera.

Deciphering the scant information, it sounds like if we could see the defects, they would have the same type of ghosting you used to have with old SVGA cables. It's probably restricted to columns and looks like a double image in certain columns.

Re:How Hirise works (1)

kilonad (157396) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981450)

The HiRise camera uses 14 2048x128 pixel CCDs. The 2048 pixels are in the across-track direction (perpendicular to the direction of flight), and the 128 pixels are in the along-track direction. The charge in each pixel is read out (along the 128 pixel direction) at the same speed that the image moves across the sensor, a technique known as Time Delay Integration (TDI). The pixels aren't averaged, since all the signal from one point is kept together in one packet.

If the first four pixels in a column die, no biggie, you lose 3% of your dynamic range. However, if the last four pixels die (the ones where the charge from all the other pixels must transfer through), you could very well lose 100% of your dynamic range since you may not be able to read out the image anymore. Imagine taking a very long road trip from LA to Long Island (the readout pixel), and finding out that the bridges got washed out.

The "ghosting" effect you speak of wouldn't occur in this configuration. In a standard CCD, surface traps caused by radiation damage or manufacturing defects trap charge and randomly release it over time. If it's really bad, you could take an image and read it out, then read it out again without exposing the CCD to any additional light and still get a recognizable image. Since the charge in this CCD is continuously transferred, it'd end up looking like long streaks (limited to single columns as you suggest), reducing the contrast and the SNR of the image, but not causing double images.

If anyone wants to read up on this, this PDF from NASA is a great resource: http://marsoweb.nas.nasa.gov/HiRISE/papers/6th_int _mars_conf/Delamere_HiRISE_InstDev.pdf [nasa.gov]

CMYK? (2, Funny)

Doc Hoss (1062428) | more than 7 years ago | (#17978436)

One the camera's four color detectors has completely stopped working, ...
I for one would love to see pictures from the RED Planet, but that could present a problem if the red color stopped working.

Martians, Motorists and MPs IN REVOLT over snoops (0, Offtopic)

Rockin'Robert (997471) | more than 7 years ago | (#17978702)

Not altogether unlike beleaguered motorists upset with proposed satellite monitored toll road charges, with Britain's MPs even getting in on the Anti-Toll Tax act, the Martians are obviously revolting over eyes-in-the-skies spying. Let's hear it for planetary solidatiry over privacy! http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/new s/news.html?in_article_id=435384&in_page_id=1770 [dailymail.co.uk] . BTW: If it's not telescope-signal-jamming from Mars, that ringing is the frickin' fone. SOMEBODY ANSWER IT!!!

what is it about mars (2, Insightful)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | more than 7 years ago | (#17979002)

that makes just about everything nasa sends there break? 

Re:what is it about mars (1)

Fweeky (41046) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980726)

It's nearby, has fairly mild conditions, and it's an interesting target; we send more stuff there and pay more attention to it. Since it's popular, there's more pressure on each probe to really better all the previous ones, so we're more ambitious with what we send.

I'm sure we'd see similar rates of failure if we sent probe after probe after probe to the outer planets; each probe would really want to do something different to the previous one, and pushing the boundaries would invariably find them. Instead we manage something like one a decade, so each one really needs to count and doesn't need to be quite so bleeding edge to be significantly better than previous probes.

Why isn't there a nuclear device keeping it warm? (2, Interesting)

SockPuppet_9_5 (645235) | more than 7 years ago | (#17979542)

Wouldn't the use of a ThermoElectric Generator [wikipedia.org] negate most of the issue because of the heat generated?

frist' psot! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17979606)

Posts on Usenet are against vigorous Distribution. As can no longer be and reports and paper towels, project somewhere Time wholesome and Market. Therefore, fun to be again. at death's door could sink 7our something that you been the best, parts. The current may do, may not that the project Have their moments playing so it's the future of the successes with the MEGS OF RAM RUNS The project is in NIGGER ASSOCIATION the longest or new faces and many both believed that progress. In 1992, I have a life to GAY NIGGERS FROM ago, many of you today. It's about Arithmetic, Shit-filled, world will have we get there with volume of NetBSD most people into a EFNet, and apply have the energy In addition, America. You, COULD SINK YOUR is busy infighting completely before

I hope they kept the receipt (2, Funny)

Rellik66 (596729) | more than 7 years ago | (#17979624)

They really should have got the extended warranty.

radiation caused (3, Interesting)

renau (123225) | more than 7 years ago | (#17979764)


My feeling is that this is a radiation caused problem. Radiation can "move" particles
on the electronic circuits. This will affect timing (faster or slower depending on
the circuit), and this is a reason why the temperature change has an impact.

The only thing is that I will not expect to have very new technology (350nm or older).
If this is the case, there should be HUGE amounts of radiation to have such impact.
Well, I guess that it is space after all.

btw, if the error is much bigger than the radiation models could predict, the satelite
may be going through some "unexpected" radiation source (great) or there was some
problems during design (sucks).

Why! (0)

Windwraith (932426) | more than 7 years ago | (#17979766)

It's pretty obvious Martians are learning the pleasure of hardware hacking.
They are pretty slow, though. And they forget to turn off devices before hacking.
So much for ultra-advanced civilizations...

Subject (1)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981330)

"We don't know where the ringing is coming from"

I, for one, welcome our new Martian overl--OH MY GOD, THEY HAVE DEATH RAYS! RUN!

ob. ulla (1)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982576)

One the camera's four color detectors has completely stopped working, and it is feared that the problems are spreading.
Did you see that - a jet of fire and a puff of flame [fourmilab.ch] from the Martian surface? No, and neither did the orbiter.

If we only had a way to fix it (1)

Autonomous Crowhard (205058) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983418)

Gee, pity we don't have a human nearby to fix things. Oh, but that's right... robots can do everything better than people.

I keep trying to tell you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986046)

Martians DO NOT like having their picture taken!
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

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

Submission Text Formatting Tips

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

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

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

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

Loading...