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Mars Exploration Thread Redux


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Mars Exploration Thread Redux
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curiousuburb
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2005-08-08, 08:48

For those depressed by Shuttle foam failings, you can set your sights higher and redder...

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter launch: 1 day 22 hrs and counting...
-Launch window opens on August 10, 2005 at 7:53:58 AM EST-

Official Mission Site

Launch Website (with webcast links)

Pre-launch briefing 2PM EDT Aug 8th on NASA TV... also August 9, 2005 at 10:30 am EDT
Hosted by red-haired space hottie... woot!

Mission Animations

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2005-08-08 at 08:50.
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curiousuburb
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2005-08-10, 06:17

MRO Launch delayed 24 hours...

Apparently due to Redundant Rate Gyro failure during manufacturer testing... engineers are testing the gyro and wondering if the same failure might occur in the gyros installed on MRO's Atlas V launcher. If so, they'd scrub the launch and replace the gyros in the rocket... if they can't repeat the failure in follow up tests on duplicate systems, they may cross fingers and send the spacecraft.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2005-08-11 at 06:02.
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curiousuburb
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2005-08-11, 06:01

Launch is back on for this morning...

T - 1 hr 50 minutes...

NASA TV has live coverage...
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curiousuburb
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2005-08-11, 07:53

Another 24 hr scrub
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curiousuburb
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2005-08-12, 06:39

4 minutes and counting... all systems go
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curiousuburb
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2005-08-12, 06:57

LAUNCH Success!! Mars ETA in 7 months.
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curiousuburb
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2006-01-05, 07:27

Meanwhile... Spirit has now passed 2 years on Mars.

Originally warrantied only for 3 months, in part due to fears the solar panels would get covered by Martian dust and kill its ability to recharge,
it just sent back this sweet self portrait.

As usual, click pics for source pages and more sizes.

Woo... Shiny!

Still Shining After All This Time (Polar)

This bird's-eye view combines a self-portrait of the spacecraft deck and a panoramic mosaic of the Martian surface as viewed by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit. The rover's solar panels are still gleaming in the sunlight, having acquired only a thin veneer of dust two years after the rover landed and commenced exploring the red planet. Spirit captured this 360-degree panorama on the summit of "Husband Hill" inside Mars' Gusev Crater. During the period from Spirit's Martian days, or sols, 583 to 586 (Aug. 24 to 27, 2005), the rover's panoramic camera acquired the hundreds of individual frames for this largest panorama ever photographed by Spirit.

This image is an approximately true-color rendering using the camera's 750-nanometer, 530-nanometer and 480-nanometer filters for the Martian surface, and the 600-nanometer, 530-nanometer, and 480-nanometer filters for the rover deck. This polar projection is a compromise between a cylindrical projection (http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/galle...0051205a.html; http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA03610), which provides the best view of the terrain, and a vertical projection, which provides the best view of the deck but distorts the terrain far from the rover. The view is presented with geometric seam correction.


Opportunity is similarly sharp looking after almost the same length of time.



Bird's-Eye View of Opportunity at 'Erebus' (Polar)

This view combines frames taken by the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity on the rover's 652nd through 663rd Martian days, or sols (Nov. 23 to Dec. 5, 2005), at the edge of "Erebus Crater." The mosaic is presented as a polar projection. This type of projection provides a kind of overhead view of all of the surrounding terrain. Opportunity examined targets on the outcrop called "Rimrock" in front of the rover, testing the mobility and operation of Opportunity's robotic arm. The view shows examples of the dunes and ripples that Opportunity has been crossing as the rover drives on the Meridiani plains.

This view is an approximate true color rendering composed of images taken through the camera's 750-nanometer, 530-nanometer and 430-nanometer filters.


Meanwhile...

MRO telemetry updates:




and for those who missed it at the time, MRO launch videos are now online

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2006-01-05 at 07:34.
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curiousuburb
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2006-03-02, 08:40

MRO expected to arrive at Mars on March 10th...
plans to take almost six months to adjust orbit via aerobraking, but initial orbital success should be known in the early hours of next saturday.

Quote:
However, before Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter can begin its main assignments, it will spend half a year adjusting its orbit with an adventurous process called aerobraking. The initial capture by Mars' gravity on March 10 will put the spacecraft into a very elongated, 35-hour orbit. The planned orbit for science observations is a low-altitude, nearly circular, two-hour loop. To go directly into an orbit like that when arriving at Mars would have required carrying much more fuel for the main thrusters, requiring a larger and more expensive launch vehicle and leaving less payload weight for science instruments. Aerobraking will use hundreds of carefully calculated dips into the upper atmosphere -- deep enough to slow the spacecraft by atmospheric drag, but not deep enough to overheat the orbiter.

"Aerobraking is like a high-wire act in open air," Graf said. "Mars' atmosphere can swell rapidly, so we need to monitor it closely to keep the orbiter at an altitude that is effective but safe." Current orbiters at Mars will provide a daily watch of the lower atmosphere, an important example of the cooperative activities between missions at Mars.
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pscates2.0
Mr. Farmiga
 
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2006-03-02, 09:11

Mars, schmars...the real story here is Ms. Nail.

I love them redheads, man.

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Moogs
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2006-03-02, 09:14

Meanwhile funding is being pulled for a host of other projects that were promised not to be touched. I won't go into why. Ultimately the reasons are self-evident.

Quote:
Some of the most highly promoted missions on NASA's scientific agenda would be postponed indefinitely or perhaps even canceled under the agency's new budget, despite its administrator's vow to Congress six months ago that not "one thin dime" would be taken from space science to pay for President Bush's plan to send astronauts to the Moon and Mars.


The cuts come to $3 billion over the next five years, even as NASA's overall spending grows by 3.2 percent this year, to $16.8 billion.

Among the casualties in the budget, released last month, are efforts to look for habitable planets and perhaps life elsewhere in the galaxy, an investigation of the dark energy that seems to be ripping the universe apart, bringing a sample of Mars back to Earth and exploring for life under the ice of Jupiter's moon Europa — as well as numerous smaller programs and individual research projects that astronomers say are the wellsprings of new science and new scientists.

The agency's administrator, Michael D. Griffin, says NASA needs the money to keep the space shuttle fleet aloft, complete the International Space Station and build a new crew exploration vehicle to replace the shuttle.
Uh, why are we pulling money from other projects and funneling it into the shuttle system, while at the same time designing its replacement? And frankly the ISS has pretty much already accomplished what it set out to do: help us understand the prolonged effects of weightlessness and close quarters on the human body. Why are we spending anything more than maintenance money on that??

Most of these surveying satellites, telescopes and probes do not require launch by shuttle. They can get up there with a Delta rocket in most cases. This stuff pisses me off.

We always hear the talk during promise time, but rarely see the walk. If they fuck with the NGT, I'm going to start a new space-friendly terrorist group. Unlike PETA and ELF, people will like us because they understand what the quest for this kind of knowledge can do to advance our civilization as a whole. Plus -and this is key- we won't' burn down their houses or throw paint on them as they walk out of the butcher shop or furrier.

...into the light of a dark black night.

Last edited by Moogs : 2006-03-02 at 09:20.
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709
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2006-03-02, 12:20

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moogs
If they fuck with the NGT, I'm going to start a new space-friendly terrorist group.
I'm in.
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curiousuburb
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2006-03-02, 12:40

We could call it ... "All your space are belong to us."
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Moogs
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2006-03-02, 20:02

Good one.
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curiousuburb
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2006-03-07, 06:29

ZOMG!11!!!

Spirit Rover Team discoveres New FACE on MARS



see bottom of page...
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curiousuburb
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2006-03-09, 09:16

MRO aims for orbit insertion tomorrow



Quote:
Watch MRO Arrive at Mars! NASA TV Online
Mar 8: MRO Overview:? News Briefing (10 am Pacific)
Mar 10: MRO Pre-Arrival news Briefing (9 am Pacific)
Mar 10: Live Mars Orbit Insertion Coverage (12:30 - 2:45 pm Pacific)
Check the MRO home page for additional updates, or Space.com's "Top 10 MRO facts"
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Majost
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2006-03-10, 03:49

Wow. Good Luck to NASA. Martian Orbital Insertion has not been good to them in the past decade. Let's hope this one goes smoothly.

From a cnn.com article:
Quote:
If successful, the payoff could be great -- the MRO is expected to return more data to Earth than all previous Mars missions combined.
Wow. Just think about all the data the two latest rovers alone have sent back. So many images... plus all the other data they're getting from it.

I really hope all goes well.
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curiousuburb
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2006-03-10, 06:45

NASA expect to get 34 Terabits back from MRO over its lifetime... some from the primary mission, and another 20+ Terabits from its extended mission responsibilities as a relay station for future landers.

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drewprops
Magnificent Basturd™
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2006-03-10, 13:45

What've we got, a couple of hours before we know if they achieved orbit?
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curiousuburb
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2006-03-11, 07:51




Press Release

Six months of aerobraking to refine the orbit, but MRO's first big sphincter moment at Mars has passed.
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Moogs
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2006-03-11, 09:20

Does it take six months because of the velocity reduction, or is it that it will take that many small maneuvers to precisely position the craft in a specific, stable orbit? Either way it's amazing we can do things like this in such a remote location where the signals take ten minutes to get back and forth.

Here's a question though: if radio waves -like all electro-magnetic waves- are supposed to move at the speed of light, shouldn't it take less than 10 minutes for a signal to travel to/from Mars, since it takes only 8 for light from the sun to reach us?

[DOH, just realized the answer.... Mars can still be further away than the sun depending on the position of its and our orbit, relative to the sun

E ........ Sun ........ M

rather than

E ... M ..... Sun


right?]

...into the light of a dark black night.

Last edited by Moogs : 2006-03-11 at 09:25.
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macsforever
 
 
2006-03-12, 02:54

What are they thinking? Don't they know that Hell Knights and Imp's and other Hellspawn will surely destroy any craft that they send there? *sigh*, I guess they'll just have to learn from their mistakes.

On the viewing screens at NASA, they'll see this giant clawed hand come toward the camera, and then it will all go black.
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Moogs
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2006-03-12, 08:32

I think you mean the Strogg. Seriously though, don't muddle excellent space exploration threads with bad movie / video game references. It's an unspoken rule here at Aldo Central.

...into the light of a dark black night.
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curiousuburb
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2006-03-12, 08:50

IIRC, the overall mission physics, and the six month aerobraking in gradually decreasing orbits is nicely detailed in this simple animation linked to the BBC Story of MRO arrival...

They could do a mission without aerobraking, but it would require a boatload more fuel on board the spacecraft (which would mean sacrificing science payload). This type of gradual orbital adjustment by skimming the upper atmosphere on each orbit is designed for maximum efficiency.

And yes... Mars is the 4th planet, so it can be farther from us than the Sun, depending on orbital mechanics and when you're talking about.
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drewprops
Magnificent Basturd™
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2006-03-12, 08:59

Thanks Burb, now I'm going to have another marathon session of Penguin Physics after seeing the BBC animation.

questions spring to mind...
Did the orbiter take photos while executing the insertion?
What are the chances that the robot could still nose-in on return passes?

Steve Jobs ate my cat's watermelon.
Captain Drew on Twitter
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Moogs
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2006-03-12, 12:00

Well technically, *any* planet could be further from us, if its orbit takes it around the other side of the sun relative to where we are, right? So as it starts to move around the part of the sun we're facing, it gets further and further away (more than 93,000,000 miles) until it is behind the sun (at which point I suppose radio contact would be impossible). Also, all the planets are not on precisely the same orbital plane, are they?

...into the light of a dark black night.
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709
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2006-03-13, 12:08

Google Mars!
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709
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2006-03-20, 11:35

Uh oh. Looks like one of Spirit's wheels has seized up:

Quote:
One of Spirit's six wheels has stopped working. Dragging that wheel, the solar-powered rover must reach a slope where it can catch enough sunshine to continue operating during the Martian winter. The period of minimum sunshine is more than 100 days away, but Spirit gets only enough power for about one hour per day of driving on flat ground. And the supply is dropping fast.

Spirit's right-front wheel became a concern when it began drawing unusually high current five months after the January 2004 landing on Mars. Driving Spirit backwards redistributed lubricant and returned the wheel to normal operation. This week, during the 779th Martian day of what was originally planned as a 90-Martian-day mission, the motor that rotates that wheel stopped working.

"It is not drawing any current at all," said JPL's Jacob Matijevic, rover engineering team chief. One possibility engineers are considering is the motor's brushes, contacts that deliver power to the rotating part of the motor, have lost contact. The motors that rotate Spirit's wheels have revolved more than 13 million times, far more than called for in its design.
Head for the Hills!!!:

Quote:
The best spot for Spirit is the north-facing side of McCool Hill, where it could spend the southern-hemisphere winter tilted toward the sun. Spirit finished studying a bright feature called "Home Plate" last week and is driving toward the hill. It has approximately 120 meters (about 390 feet) to go. Expected progress is approximately 12 meters (40 feet) per day.
Godspeed little buddy.
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curiousuburb
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2006-03-20, 12:28

Yeah, that wheel has been sticking for about 6 months... the solution up until now has been to drive in 'reverse' and drag the wheel, then spin the rover in place for the major instrument package to point at the 'forward' stuff. Redundancy is good.

I'm surprised to hear they've obliterated the grinder teeth and are just down to brushes on the Rock Abrasion Tool... them's some tough martian rocks.

The solar panel dust buildup issue was predicted to cause the early doom of the rovers before launch... fortunately, both rovers have benefitted from serendipitous dust devils which have seemingly blown them clean. Here's hoping the same trick will increase power again in future.

Hibernating with optimal panels-facing-sun worked last year, so I'm not pessimistic, but if you read some of the coverage, Squyres is giving the press some pretty drastic sounding sound bites.
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Elysium
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2006-03-24, 13:45

Back to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter:
Things are looking good so far- First high resolution images from the HiRISE camera.
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709
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2006-03-24, 13:50

Quote:
HiRISE took this first test image from orbit on March 24, 2006, from an altitude of 2,489 kilometers (1,547 miles), achieving a resolution of 2.49 meters (98 inches) per pixel, or picture element. The smallest objects of discernable shape are about three pixels across. An image acquired at this latitude during the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's main science phase, beginning in fall 2006, would be taken from an altitude of about 280 kilometers (174 miles) and have a resolution of 28 centimeters (11 inches) per pixel.
Holy shit. I knew the images were going to be hi-res...but I had no idea they were going to be that hi-res. Freaking cool.

Is Earth's Moon even mapped in such detail?

So it goes.
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