Mars

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Mars

Postby Damelon » Sun Jan 04, 2004 2:53 pm

Mars has been in the news quite a bit lately. The recent close approach. The recent Mars landings, one a success, the other a disappointment. All these probes have the eventual goal of sending a manned mission to Mars.

In view of this, my question is this, will we see a manned mission to Mars in the next 50 years? <i></i>
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Re: Mars

Postby Duchess of Malfi » Sun Jan 04, 2004 11:19 pm

I would certainly hope that we send people both to Mars and back to the Moon.
If we are going to start exploring/visiting/living on other worlds it would make sense to me to begin things with these two near neighbors... ******************************************************

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Re: Mars

Postby Damelon » Sun Jan 04, 2004 11:27 pm

The Chinese are said to be looking into a mission to the moon as a goal for their program.

Mars may be possible in 20 - 30 years. <i></i>
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Re: Mars

Postby Damelon » Fri Jan 23, 2004 12:47 am

Looks like the Spirit rover is in trouble. They've lost contact with the rover.

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Mars thread

Postby Duchess of Malfi » Fri Jan 23, 2004 3:38 am

NASA Loses Communication With Mars Rover
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By ANDREW BRIDGES, AP Science Writer

PASADENA, Calif. - NASA (news - web sites)'s Spirit rover has stopped transmitting data from Mars in an ominous turn that baffled engineers and sent them scrambling Thursday to figure out what brought the mission to a potentially calamitous halt.


NASA received its last significant data from the unmanned Spirit early Wednesday, its 19th day on the surface of Mars. Since then, the six-wheeled vehicle has sent either random, meaningless radio noise or simple beeps acknowledging it has received commands from Earth.


"We now know we have had a very serious anomaly on the vehicle," project manager Pete Theisinger said at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.


Engineers struggled to diagnose what was wrong with the rover. Among the possible causes: a corruption of its software or computer memory.


If the software is awry, NASA can fix it from Earth by beaming patches across more than 100 million miles of space or by rebooting the rover's computer. But if the problem lies with the rover's hardware, the situation would be far more grave — perhaps beyond repair.


"Yes, something could break, something certainly could fail. That's a concern we have — that's quite a serious event," Theisinger said.


Spirit is one-half of an $820 million mission. Its twin, Opportunity, is expected to land on Mars late Saturday. The twin rovers are supposed to examine the Red Planet's dry rocks and soil for evidence that it was once wetter and more hospitable to life.


Until Wednesday, Spirit had functioned almost flawlessly and NASA scientists and engineers had been jubilant.


Cushioned by its air bags, the rover made a bull's-eye landing on Mars, surviving what was by far the most dangerous part of the mission — the descent through the atmosphere at 12,000 mph. Then on Jan. 15, in another nail-biting moment for NASA, the rover safely rolled down a ramp onto Mars' ruddy soil without becoming snagged.


It has snapped thousands of pictures, including breathtaking panoramic views and microscopic images of the martian soil. It also carried out preliminary work analyzing the minerals and elements that make up its surroundings.


Steven Squyres, of Cornell University, the mission's main scientist, cautioned that communications problems are common on spacecraft. "While it is cause for concern, it is not cause for alarm," he said.


NASA last heard from Spirit as it prepared to continue its work examining its first rock, just a few yards from where it landed.


Early Thursday, NASA initially heard nothing from Spirit that would indicate it was in "fault mode," a state that the rover enters by itself when it has experienced a problem. Later, NASA send a command to Spirit as if it were in fault mode, anyway. Spirit acknowledged with a beep that it received the command, indicating an onboard problem. That puzzled engineers.


"It is precisely like trying to diagnose a patient with different symptoms that don't corroborate," said Firouz Naderi, manager of JPL's Mars exploration program.


The rover missed several scheduled opportunities to communicate, both directly with Earth and by way of two NASA satellites in orbit around Mars. As of midday Thursday, it had sent no engineering or science data for more than 24 hours. NASA scheduled two other attempts Thursday night to communicate with Spirit.


Preliminary indications suggested the rover's radio was working, and it continued to generate power from the sun with its solar panels. Spirit's internal clock also was running and had roused the rover several times on cue to communicate with NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and 2001 Mars Odyssey as they zipped overhead.


Engineers hoped to receive data on how the spacecraft is functioning by early Friday, when a window of communication with the rover opens, JPL director Charles Elachi said in a television interview broadcast by NASA.

"We can do a diagnostic and understand what happened, what are the corrective actions that need to be done and how do we bring it carefully and thoughtfully to its normal operation mode," Elachi said.

"There is nothing rushing us to do the fix immediately, other than people being anxious," he added.

Initially, engineers believed bad weather on Earth — a thunderstorm near a Deep Space Network antenna in Australia — had caused the communications glitch. But the weather was later discounted as the source,

The rover had been scheduled Thursday to grind away a tiny area of the weathered face of a sharply angled rock dubbed Adirondack. Examination of the rock beneath could offer clues to Mars' geologic past.




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Re: Mars thread

Postby Duchess of Malfi » Fri Jan 23, 2004 4:06 pm

Hopefully things are getting better with the rover:

NASA gets 20-minute signal from Mars rover
Friday, January 23, 2004 Posted: 10:30 AM EST


PASADENA, California (CNN) -- After two days having trouble sending transmissions, the Mars rover Spirit sent data Friday morning to its NASA flight team in a communications session lasting 20 minutes, the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said.

"The spacecraft sent limited data in a proper response to a ground command, and we're planning for commanding further communication sessions later today," Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager Pete Theisinger said.

NASA reported transmissions were detected at a NASA antenna complex near Madrid, Spain.

The Spirit rover stopped transmitting data from Mars on Wednesday, but mission controllers remained hopeful about reestablishing a connection, saying there were signs the craft was operating at a basic level.

Their efforts at restoring communications with Spirit come at a time when they are also focusing on a safe landing for the rover's twin, the Opportunity, set to descend on the other side of red planet. Opportunity was on course to land in a region called Meridiani Planum at 6:05 p.m. ET on January 24, NASA said.

Since Wednesday, NASA scientists had received a basic communication tone from the Spirit rover indicating it was alive, but the solid flows of data that marked its first 18 days on Mars stopped, said deputy project manager Richard Cook.

The tone is programmed into the spacecraft, to be emitted when there is a serious problem onboard.

"We know that we have had a very serious anomaly on the vehicle," said Pete Theisinger, manager of the $400 million Spirit mission, told reporters Thursday.

"Our ability to determine exactly what has happened has been limited by our inability to receive telemetry from the vehicle."

To find out what went wrong, scientists need additional data. The team was pursuing several scenarios, such as a possible software crash or a problem with the solar power supply, sources said.

The problem initially was blamed on rain in Canberra, Australia, where NASA operates a major radio dish that receives radio messages from space.

But several opportunities to communicate with Spirit since then came and went with the space agency receiving no solid data, said Cook, who managed the ill-fated Mars Polar Lander, which presumably crashed into Mars in 1999.

Mars project engineers sent a query to the rover Wednesday afternoon, and it did respond. But the craft was silent when the Mars Odyssey, a satellite in Mars orbit, passed over the six-wheeled robot, Cook said.

Later, when another red planet satellite, the Mars Global Surveyor, passed over the rover, NASA received radio communication but no data. Several opportunities came and went Thursday with no communication. But later the basic communication tone was received.

Previously, the rover's performance had been virtually flawless. Scientists were reviewing the early data to see if they might have missed some predictor of trouble.

CNN's Jeordan Legon, Miles O'Brien, and David Santucci contributed to this report.



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Re: Mars thread

Postby Duchess of Malfi » Fri Jan 23, 2004 4:09 pm

Mars is really in the news today...there is also this story, which might have great implications for any human visits to our red neighbor:

Europe probe detects Mars water ice
Friday, January 23, 2004 Posted: 9:21 AM EST (1421 GMT)


(CNN) -- The European orbiter Mars Express detected ice at the Red Planet's south pole, mission officials at Darmstadt, Germany, said Friday.

NASA's Mars Odyssey, also an orbiter, confirmed water ice at the north pole, along with dry ice -- frozen carbon dioxide -- in 2002. It picked up signs of hydrogen at the south pole, the first indication that water ice might be found there.

Mars Express confirmed Odyssey's suspicions about the south pole.

"We have already identified water vapor in the atmosphere," scientist Vittorio Formisano said. "We have identified water ice on the soil on the south polar caps."

Mars Express headed off for the fourth planet on June 2 specifically to look for water. It carried with it the European Space Agency's rover, Beagle 2, but that craft was never heard from after its expected Dec. 25 landing.

Express, however, attained its final operational orbit in the last week and has continued its scientific mission. Express made an unsuccessful attempt to contact Beagle 2 earlier this month when it passed near the rover's landing site.






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second Mars rover...

Postby Duchess of Malfi » Mon Jan 26, 2004 2:12 am

NASA scientists awed by new Mars images
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PASADENA, United States (AFP) - NASA (news - web sites) scientists said they hit a "scientific jackpot" as Opportunity, the second of two roving US Mars probes, transmitted astonishing images from the planet's surface.

The 820-million-dollar mission's scientific director, Steve Squyres, was left gasping for words as Opportunity sent back to Earth pictures of what he described as an "alien landscape."


"I am flabbergasted, I'm astonished, I'm blown away," the 47-year-old scientist said at the National Aeronautic and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory here.


The pictures enlivened scientists who continued working to repair the mission's first robotic probe, Spirit, which started communicating with NASA again Friday, two days after a worrisome communications breakdown.


Opportunity's black-and-white and color pictures showed that it landed near a rock outcropping that seemed very promising to geologists in the Mars Exploration Rover mission.


"This is the first rock outcrop ever found on Mars," Squyres, a professor at Cornell University in New York state, said in a news conference during which he was visibly excited. "Opportunity has touched down in a bizarre, alien landscape."


The rock outcropping is scientifically invaluable because, unlike stones that can come from elsewhere, they are historically linked to their location, he said.


To Squyres, who conceived the idea for the mission in 1987, the rover's success is the culmination of 16 years of work. In 2000, NASA picked him to lead the mission's scientists and choose the instruments the rovers would need.


"It was exactly what it was in my wildest dream," said Squyres, who heads a group of more than 180 researchers.


Opportunity landed safely on Mars at 9:05 pm Saturday (0505 GMT) in an area known as the Meridiani Planum, and approaching the nearby rock outcropping will be one of the rover's first objectives.


"We are lucky," said Larry Soderblom, of the US Geological Survey, calling the mission a "scientific jackpot."


"It is difficult to find a place safe enough to land and expecting to find something interesting when you get there," he said.


The Meridiani Planum is a zone of grey hematite, an iron oxide. Scientists plan to use the robot's instruments to determine whether the grey hematite layer comes from sediments of a former ocean, from volcanic deposits altered by hot water or from other ancient environmental conditions.


Theories that Mars was once awash with water got dramatic confirmation from data relayed to Earth recently by Europe's unmanned spacecraft, Mars Express.


The two solar-powered rovers, the size of golf carts, were sent to study Mars' geological characteristics for three months to determine whether the red planet ever had conditions conducive to life.


Scientists said they were confident they would be able to fix the Spirit rover, which landed on January 3.


"We still have a sick child," said Mars Exploration Rover project manager Pete Theisinger said.



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Re: second Mars rover...

Postby Damelon » Tue Jan 27, 2004 11:58 am

I understand that the problem with the Spirit rover was software related....... To reliant on Micosoft <i></i>
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Re: second Mars rover...

Postby danlo60 » Wed Jan 28, 2004 4:17 pm

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Re: second Mars rover...

Postby AlphSeeker » Sat Jan 31, 2004 7:05 pm

Y'know, just from looking at the pictures ... it ain't the kind of place to raise your kids. ******************

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Re: second Mars rover...

Postby Damelon » Sat Jan 31, 2004 9:49 pm

Yes. It is a little barren, isn't it. Not the place you'd want to go on vacation to. <i></i>
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Re: second Mars rover...

Postby Duchess of Malfi » Sat Jan 31, 2004 9:52 pm

Can't be much colder than its been around here, lately. ******************************************************

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Re: second Mars rover...

Postby AlphSeeker » Sat Jan 31, 2004 10:35 pm

Oh, I was just kidding. That was a reference to the Elton John song Rocket Man:

Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact it's cold as hell
And there's no one there to raise them
If you did

I love that song, but I always thought that verse was goofy.

I'd actually love to go to Mars ... uh, with the right equipement, I mean. When I first saw the Spirit feeds, I thought (somewhat cynically), "Yep, it's a desert". A few seconds later, I thought, "Wow! It's a DESERT!" Not gonna see that on Venus or Jupiter.

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Re: second Mars rover...

Postby Damelon » Sat Jan 31, 2004 11:32 pm

EJ may not have been so far off. <i></i>
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