back to article NASA's hefty Martian rover will use an AI brain on a robot arm to map out signs of ancient life on Red Planet

Perseverance, NASA's latest Martian rover, will extend its two-metre robotic arm and use an AI-powered control system to carefully aim X-ray beams at ancient rock samples that might contain fossilised microbes. The instrument known as PIXL, which stands for Planetary Instrument for X-Ray Lithochemistry, shoots X-rays to …

  1. RM Myers Silver badge
    WTF?

    Perseverance is shooting x-rays at Mars?

    Sounds like Amanfrommars might need a lead vest for Christmas!

    1. jake Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Perseverance is shooting x-rays at Mars?

      amfM is from Mars, which implies he's[0] no longer there and is thus safe from this particular bugaboo for the duration. Rumo(u)r has it he's here for the beer and not going anywhere anytime soon.

      [0] Are Men from Mars properly referred to as "he", as it would appear at first blush? I'd hate to start an interplanetary incident over improper use of pronouns ...

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Perseverance is shooting x-rays at Mars?

        Saying you're "from" somewhere doesn't imply you are no longer there. He might be from Mars and living on Earth, or he might be from Mars and living on Mars. The communication delays and increased likelihood of transmission errors due to the distance from Mars to Earth might explain some of his posts.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Perseverance is shooting x-rays at Mars?

          If you are from, say, Hull and are vacationing in Southport and somebody asks you where you are from, you answer Hull. However, if you are from Hull and somebody in Hull asks you where you are from, typically would your answer not be Here? (We won't ask where somebody from Southport might claim to be from, kiddies read ElReg and we wouldn't want to scar(e) them.)

          Seeing as amfM doesn't use the handle amfH, Shirley he's not there?

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Perseverance is shooting x-rays at Mars?

      Famous Men From...

      The Man from Laramie

      The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

      The Man From Del Monte

      The Man From Mars

      1. Diez66

        Re: Perseverance is shooting x-rays at Mars?

        The Jolly Green Giant?, We will never know.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Perseverance is shooting x-rays at Mars?

          The Jolly Green Giant is from the eponymous valley, as any fule no.

      2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Perseverance is shooting x-rays at Mars?

        We are only acquainted with "amanfromMars 1" - that moniker does imply that there are others in our midst. Are the others lurking about here? And are there any Women from Mars over here, and how does one make contact?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Perseverance is shooting x-rays at Mars?

          There is only one amfM, so far as I know. He somehow lost his original "amfM" account (forgot the password(??)), and created the "amfM 1" account. The last post of the former and the creation of the latter are roughly an hour apart, in mid-June of 2009. The only reason I know this is because I watched it happen and found it odd enough to remember.

          I seem to remember an "amfM1" (with no space) account posting occasionally, but that might be a figment of my imagination.

          There have been a couple of pretenders using various variations of the handle (some quite punny, as is the wont of us commentards), but all were intentionally(?) obvious imposters.

          It has been suggested there might be a MomFromMars (maybe named ELIZA), and possibly an UncleFromMars (Parry?), but amfM has held his council on the subject.

  2. WolfFan Silver badge

    All hail the

    Nuclear-powered, laser- and x-ray- armed, self-driving, death robots.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: All hail the

      Good job they're on Mars then !

      (same reason for putting all the poisonous critters in Australia)

  3. james 68

    "During the day, the temperature on the Red Planet can fluctuate by up to 38°C. The added heat can cause the metal on Perseverance's robotic arm to expand and contract by up to 13 millimetres"

    Expansion of 13 millimeters over a temperature differential of just 38°C? doesn't that seem a little extreme? I would expect a deviation of around 1.3 mm not 1.3 cm.

    1. My-Handle Silver badge

      Depends how long the arm is, I suppose.

      Having said that, I decided to look up the thermal coefficient of steel (no idea if this is the material used), and it's 13 x 10^-6 (at 20 °C, but let's go with it for a ballpark figure).

      Multiplying 13x10^-6 by a 38 °C shift, by a 2m arm length gave me.... 0.000988m. Pretty much bang on 1 mm. So... unless the thermal expansion of this material is an order of magnitude different, or the arm is 10x the length, it looks like you're on the money.

      I went on quite a little journey there, didn't I :D

      1. james 68

        I expect they're probably using a variety of 7075 Aluminium alloy (Aluminum for the FREEDOM!!!!! folk) which has a slightly higher thermal expansion then a lot of steels. But even so, I've seen it used as components in jet turbine housings and mounts and it sure didn't get anywhere near 13mm of expansion while in use, nevermind on a hot summer day.

        I suppose they could be talking about total expansion by volume as opposed to directional. Would be a daft way to phrase it though.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Aluminium is about 25ppm /degC, so 40C change is 1 part in 1000 (ie 0.1%)

          Think somebody got a decimal point in the wrong place, a 1.3m long arm would change by 1.3mm

      2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        No Main Stream Media Moguling Defects, Afflictions or Affectations Here ...

        I went on quite a little journey there, didn't I :D .... My-Handle

        And quite rightly so, My-Handle. El Reg doesn't do support for fake news. That simple strength makes it priceless, and more than just extremely valuable.

  4. TVU

    "NASA's hefty Martian rover..."

    Unfortunately, Mars was only life-friendly for its first half a billion years before its small core cooled and died also taking out the protective magnetic field and the rest is history. NASA's realistically right to potentially look only for tiny dead microfossils although both Europa and Enceladus look to be potentially far more hospitable to life. That's where I'd send the probes.

    1. jake Silver badge

      "Unfortunately, Mars was only life-friendly for its first half a billion years"

      You present this as a fact. How do you know? Have you been there? If not, how many other Mars-like planets are your basing your guess on?

      1. JCitizen Bronze badge
        Go

        From every thing I've read...

        about the mysteries of the early history of Venus and Mars, his account sounds right.

  5. Thomas Martin

    I hope they have learned about solar cells

    I hope this rover will have something to automatically clean the solar panels of the Martian dust, something which the other two rovers did not appear to have. It would most likely be something that would benefit the rover and perhaps extend its operations.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Spherical Cow Silver badge

      Re: I hope they have learned about solar cells

      This rover is nuclear powered, not solar powered. The power unit is designed for 14 years use.

  6. William Higinbotham

    Characters

    Bet myself that they did not input Bugs Bunny and Marvin the Martian in their image library:-)

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021