New Mars rover launched

Luckynumber3

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Amidst all the Black Friday chaoes and reporting on nothing for the past few days, everybody forgot about Nasa's new rover that is heading to Mars. It apparently took off today (well, yesterday now).

NASA launches super-size rover to Mars: 'Go, Go!' - Yahoo! News

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CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A rover of "monster truck" proportions zoomed toward Mars on an 8½-month, 354 million-mile journey Saturday, the biggest, best equipped robot ever sent to explore another planet.

NASA's six-wheeled, one-armed wonder, Curiosity, will reach Mars next summer and use its jackhammer drill, rock-zapping laser machine and other devices to search for evidence that Earth's next-door neighbor might once have been home to the teeniest forms of life.

More than 13,000 invited guests jammed the Kennedy Space Center on Saturday morning to witness NASA's first launch to Mars in four years, and the first flight of a Martian rover in eight years.

Mars fever gripped the crowd.

NASA astrobiologist Pan Conrad, whose carbon compound-seeking instrument is on the rover, wore a bright blue, short-sleeve blouse emblazoned with rockets, planets and the words, "Next stop Mars!" She jumped, cheered and snapped pictures as the Atlas V rocket blasted off. So did Los Alamos National Laboratory's Roger Wiens, a planetary scientist in charge of Curiosity's laser blaster, called ChemCam.

Surrounded by 50 U.S. and French members of his team, Wiens shouted "Go, Go, Go!" as the rocket soared into a cloudy sky. "It was beautiful," he later observed, just as NASA declared the launch a full success.

A few miles away at the space center's visitor complex, Lego teamed up with NASA for a toy spacecraft-building event for children this

Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The irresistible lure: 800,000 Lego bricks.
The 1-ton Curiosity — 10 feet long, 9 feet wide and 7 feet tall at its mast — is a mobile, nuclear-powered laboratory holding 10 science instruments that will sample Martian soil and rocks, and with unprecedented skill, analyze them right on the spot.

It's as big as a car. But NASA's Mars exploration program director calls it "the monster truck of Mars."

"It's an enormous mission. It's equivalent of three missions, frankly, and quite an undertaking," said the ecstatic program director, Doug McCuistion. "Science fiction is now science fact. We're flying to Mars. We'll get it on the ground and see what we find."

The primary goal of the $2.5 billion mission is to see whether cold, dry, barren Mars might have been hospitable for microbial life once upon a time — or might even still be conducive to life now. No actual life detectors are on board; rather, the instruments will hunt for organic compounds.

Curiosity's 7-foot arm has a jackhammer on the end to drill into the Martian red rock, and the 7-foot mast on the rover is topped with high-definition and laser cameras.

With Mars the ultimate goal for astronauts, NASA will use Curiosity to measure radiation at the red planet. The rover also has a weather station on board that will provide temperature, wind and humidity readings; a computer software app with daily weather updates is planned.
No previous Martian rover has been so sophisticated.

The world has launched more than three dozen missions to the ever-alluring Mars, which is more like Earth than the other solar-system planets. Yet fewer than half those quests have succeeded.

Just two weeks ago, a Russian spacecraft ended up stuck in orbit around Earth, rather than en route to the Martian moon Phobos.

"Mars really is the Bermuda Triangle of the solar system," said NASA's Colleen Hartman, assistant associate administrator for science. "It's the death planet, and the United States of America is the only nation in the world that has ever landed and driven robotic explorers on the surface of Mars, and now we're set to do it again."

Curiosity's arrival next August will be particularly hair-raising.
In a spacecraft first, the rover will be lowered onto the Martian surface via a jet pack and tether system similar to the sky cranes used to lower heavy equipment into remote areas on Earth.

Curiosity is too heavy to use air bags like its much smaller predecessors, Spirit and Opportunity, did in 2004. Besides, this new way should provide for a more accurate landing.

Astronauts will need to make similarly precise landings on Mars one day.
Curiosity will spend a minimum of two years roaming around Gale Crater, chosen from among more than 50 potential landing sites because it's so rich in minerals. Scientists said if there is any place on Mars that might have been ripe for life, it may well be there.

The rover should go farther and work harder than any previous Mars explorer because of its power source: 10.6 pounds of radioactive plutonium. The nuclear generator was encased in several protective layers in case of a launch accident.

NASA expects to put at least 12 miles on the odometer, once the rover sets down on the Martian surface.

McCuistion anticipates being blown away by the never-before-seen vistas. "Those first images are going to just be stunning, I believe. It will be like sitting in the bottom of the Grand Canyon," he said at a post-launch news conference.

This is the third astronomical mission to be launched from Cape Canaveral by NASA since the retirement of the venerable space shuttle fleet this summer. The Juno probe is en route to Jupiter, and twin spacecraft named Grail will arrive at Earth's moon on New Year's Eve and Day.

Unlike Juno and Grail, Curiosity suffered development programs and came in two years late and nearly $1 billion over budget. Scientists involved in the project noted Saturday that the money is being spent on Earth, not Mars, and the mission is costing every American about the price of a movie.

"I'll leave you to judge for yourself whether or not that's a movie you'd like to see," said California Institute of Technology's John Grotzinger, the project scientist. "I know that's one I would."
 

Thumpalumpacus

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Just found this:
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BBC News - Giant Nasa rover launches to Mars

Wow, nuclear battery?:wow:I'm hoping that doesn't mean like "Nuclear battery that can explode and kill the secret alien life on Mars."

That would be the coolest set of wheels ever. Let that rude Prius driver say something ... while she's talking shit, you can just use the robotic arm to flatten her tires. And no more parallel parking worries -- if someone parks too close, blocking you in, you just drive over them.
 

Benjammin

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Scare quotes? Por quoi?

nothing scared about it, but they've already lost a few, billion dollar, exploratory craft going to Mars, I just find it curious they keep going back is all. They either suck at doing it, or theres more going on than we know. I think its a waste of money myself, there are more important things to focus on here on Earth
 

Thumpalumpacus

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No, the term "scare quotes" means quotes used to imply skepticism. Six out of our seven surface explorations have come off as planned, or better than planned, once they've landed. We've certainly had problems getting them there, but we still have a 65% success rate. From the Wiki:

Failed at launch: Mars 1M No.1 and 2 · Mars 2MV-4 No.1 · Mars 2MV-3 No.1 · Mariner 3 · Mars 2M No.521 · Mars 2M No.522 · Mariner 8 · Kosmos 419 · Mars 96 Mars 96 Proton.jpg

Failed en route: Mars 1 · Zond 2 and 2A · Mars 2 (failed to deploy lander and rover) · Mars 3 (failed to deploy rover) · Mars 4 · Mars 6 (failed to deploy lander) · Mars 7 (failed to deploy lander) · Phobos 1 · Phobos 2 (failed to deploy lander) · Mars Observer · Nozomi · Mars Climate Orbiter · Mars Polar Lander · Deep Space 2 · Beagle 2
 

Thumpalumpacus

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hahahah, but it's better than we have any right to expect, no? I mean, with an average distance of 140 million miles to cross, that's pretty damned good.
 

coldsteal2

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Great we will find there is life on Mars just before the
world ends
 

Thundergod

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Lets assume the thing finds proof that some hundreds of thousands of millions of years ago there were microorganisms in mars. :wow:

:hmm:

So what? Will the fights at McDonald's end? Will that make people think twice before stomping kids to death during the first minutes of black Friday?
 

Dino Velvet

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That's a great news story and should have been on the front page of every National paper. It's positive and uplifting.
 

HARDWEAR

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No, the term "scare quotes" means quotes used to imply skepticism. Six out of our seven surface explorations have come off as planned, or better than planned, once they've landed. We've certainly had problems getting them there, but we still have a 65% success rate. From the Wiki:


Not only that but the Spirit and Opportunity Rovers that went there in 2004 were designed for only 30 to 90 days of service......Many instruments on both of them are still working today....7 year later.
 

sonar1

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See those slots passing through the surface of the aluminum "wheels" on the Rover?

At one point they said "J P L" in morse code (for Jet Propulsion Laboratories, the company that had us build those wheels at Tapemation: an Aero-Space machine shop I worked at).

This was after NASA told us to take the reverse embossed "JPL" off the "treads" that would be visible in the dust everywhere the rover went! They were a bit miffed at JPL's self-promotion and "product placement" skills.

When NASA decided the open ended wheels needed some slots in them to let collected debris fall back out, JPL happily complied.

Ya just can't keep those creative Aero-space engineer minds down for long.

:naughty:
 

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