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Future of Flagship Mars Mission Up In the Air

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posted on Oct, 8 2008 @ 11:29 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Will NASA's flagship mission to Mars fly next year? The space agency could decide as early as Friday whether to cancel, delay or proceed with plans to launch a nuclear-powered, SUV-size rover to the red planet.

This is about the Mars Science Laboratory. Let's hope they decide to proceed or delay (hopefully proceed). It would be a complete waste to cancel the mission! The article even says so...

Some scientists outside the Mars research community said canceling the project does not make sense since so much money has already been invested.

Not to mention that $1.5 billion for ONE PROJECT of scientific value is nothing compared to how much is being spent on wars. But.... to cancel the project after this much money has already been spent on it would just be outrageous!


(quote tags to ex tags)

[edit on 9-10-2008 by Jbird]

posted on Oct, 9 2008 @ 08:05 AM
I am not to familiar with this project, but I am familiar with running projects. Generally spoken you could apply the rule;
"Beter turn back halfway, instead of getting completely lost".

If you've made the wrong decisions it's better to start over than to spend more money leading to nothing or (worse) someting wrong.

Off course it remains a waste regardless!

posted on Oct, 9 2008 @ 08:11 PM
This isn't turning back halfway. Canceling this mission now would be almost like turning back with the finish line in sight! The amount of money the project may need is NOTHING compared to how much has already been spent on it. And if this is canceled, then the next one isn't until ESA's ExoMars around 2014.

[edit on 9-10-2008 by GrayFox]

posted on Oct, 9 2008 @ 10:25 PM
Nice catch GreyFox. Been a while since I've checked into this mission.

Some background on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL)

Mars Science Laboratory will be the first planetary mission to use precision landing techniques,...

There is no air bag landing this trip. MSL is too massive. The rover will be tenderly deposited onto Mars
via a tether reeled out from a Skycrane system, a rocket-powered contraption that hovers above the landing site.

Does size matter ?

Spirit and Opportunity size on left, Sojourner size in the middle, MSL on right

MSL Home page

I would think the data and images we've gotten from the Spirit and Opportunity missions alone would warrant a little extra expense.
Of course the current economy does not bode well, for any extensions.

If not I guess some execs. kid will get a heck of a present , this year.

[edit on 9-10-2008 by Jbird]

posted on Oct, 10 2008 @ 06:22 PM
The mission is still on for 2009! Yes!

Hopefully everything keeps going well in these planning stages. The crane landing method of the craft confuses me though. On one hand, it's something new and interesting. On the other hand, sometimes things don't work right on the first try.

posted on Oct, 10 2008 @ 06:25 PM
Yep, she's going ahead:

Wow, that thing almost weights a ton and runs on RTGs...

Mod Note: Forum Image Linking Policy – Please Review This Link.

[edit on 10-10-2008 by Jbird]

posted on Oct, 10 2008 @ 07:51 PM

Originally posted by GrayFox
... The crane landing method of the craft confuses me though. ...

Not sure if I'm reading your question correctly G'
but sounds to me like the heavier payloads will need more powerful
braking systems, especially with the thin Martian air.

So not only does this 'crane' design allow a little more slowing power, it also propels the oversized 'crane'/ 'chute away from the Rover. after release.
After the parachute has significantly slowed the vehicle and the heatshield (that has protected the rover during entry) separates, the descent stage will separate from the backshell. Using four steerable engines, the descent stage will slow the nested rover down even further to eliminate the effects of any horizontal winds. When the vehicle has been slowed to nearly zero velocity, the rover will be released from the descent stage. A bridle and "umbilical cord" will lower the rover to the ground. During the lowering, the rover's front mobility system will be deployed so that it is essentially ready to rove upon landing. When the on-board computer senses that touchdown is successful, it will cut the bridle. The descent stage then pitches away from the rover and powers away at full throttle to a crash-landing far from Mars Science Laboratory.

Close up -

step by step illustration @

Oh, and yea, Great News for us Space fans.

[edit on 10-10-2008 by Jbird]

posted on Oct, 15 2008 @ 09:24 PM
Excellent post; thanks and will S&F for further follow up.

Having a ball with helper 'bots on Mars

A group of Swedish reseachers say the rover could accomplish far more if joined by a squad of ball-shaped helper 'bots.

Pretty cool article regarding the helper bot balls. I'm fairly new to the Martian probes and rovers scene, but this seems to make sense in that they can "roll" pretty much anywhere. Cool technology - is this old news?

Also would like to thank JBird for directing me to this thread. Have learned more since coming - lastly, one of the two will work. I apologize for sloppy forum decor.


posted on Oct, 15 2008 @ 09:47 PM
Interesting idea. Here's the illustration from the same link to get an idea of concept.

A little more from the article

Each foot-wide, 11-pound ball can roll up to 62 miles, snap photos at any angle, and take soil samples, drawing its power from the solar panels on its shell. Unlike wheeled rovers, the rounded scouts have fewer motors to repair, never flip over, and are easier to seal from dust. Plus, they rarely get stuck.

I have to wonder, though how they will deal with hills.

posted on Oct, 15 2008 @ 10:02 PM

I wonder if it will just spin when it snows?
The concept seems credible to an extent; I think it weight and the multiple gear/engines may give it some traction to a degree, but no foothills let alone rolling the little dudes into crevaces. They need some propulsion unit and a remote control. Is this possible?


[edit on 15-10-2008 by ColoradoJens]

posted on Oct, 16 2008 @ 09:51 AM

Originally posted by ColoradoJens
I wonder if it will just spin when it snows?

Well thusfar the snow seen vaporizes about 2 miles high before it reaches the ground, but more importantly the MSL is not going to land at either of the poles. The prospective landing sites are all somewhat equatorial, far from any known snowfall or ice buildup.

posted on Oct, 18 2008 @ 01:25 AM
Fortunately, the mission is still set for 2009! Why? We'd be waiting even longer without the MSL. ExoMars was just delayed for about two years!

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