back to article Boffins bone up on rover skills as Curiosity speeds to Mars

There are now fewer than a hundred days until the Mars rover Curiosity tries to touch down on the surface of the Red Planet - and boffins at the Jet Propulsion Lab are polishing up their remote driving skills. At the moment the mission has less than 191 million kilometres (119 million miles*) to go before its scheduled landing …


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  1. SK

    Consistent units please!

    I know you guys might be ambivalent about settling on imperial/metric for stories, but can you at least be consisted. One line leads with kilometres, the next with miles. Pick one (show the conversion) and then stick with it!

    1. Dabooka

      Re: Consistent units please!

      You're right, it's Ssx or nothing

    2. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: Consistent units please!

      I was just going to post something like that. I really hope NASA don't suffer the same confusion. A thing like that could cause the probe to smash into the surface and break into pieces. Imagine how embarrassing that would be to NASA.

    3. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Consistent units please!

      Meant to fix that! Thanks for reminding me.


  2. Dabooka

    but I struggle with the non standard units of measure used!

  3. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    ...We ran all our commands through it and watched to make sure it drove, took pictures and collected samples as expected by the mission planners. It was a great test and gave us a lot of confidence.

    You mean they didn't do this before boxing it up and shipping it off to Mars ?

    1. Anonymous Custard

      Well given the comment

      "Landing an SUV-sized vehicle next to the side of a mountain 85 million miles from home is always stimulating."

      you have to wonder quite what other tests they have been doing...

  4. Blofeld's Cat


    "a hundred days... 191 million kilometres (119 million miles*) ... early in the morning ... one-ton ... 13,000MPH (21,000PH) ... two years ... eight and a half months"

    Somewhere a NASA engineer is reading this, tapping at a calculator, thumbing through a table of conversion factors, and looking decidedly worried.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: Units...

  5. Code Monkey


    "Landing an SUV-sized vehicle next to the side of a mountain 85 million miles from home is always stimulating."

    Lovely understatement, Mr Boffin, sir.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Stimulating

      Even more "stimulating" when you consider the "dangle it on a string and hope to Christ that all the suspension latches disengage on cue" approach that they have gone for. That's assuming that the "Skycrane" bit it'll be dangling from works flawlessly too.

      An 85 million mile trip leading up to the Great-Grandmother of all squeaky bottom moments.

      1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

        Re: Stimulating

        "An 85 million mile trip leading up to the Great-Grandmother of all squeaky bottom moments."

        remark like that/keyboard/coffee/chuckle

        Not a mix conducive to the longiveity of said hardware.

  6. Norman Hartnell

    Fingers crossed

    Surely: "There are now fewer than a hundred days until the Mars rover Curiosity attempts to touch down on the surface of the Red Planet..."? Looking at the complexity of the retro-rockets-and-skycrane landing system I would say it's 50-50 at best if they make it down in one piece.

    1. Franklin

      Re: Fingers crossed

      Oh, it'll touch down, all right. One way or the other.

  7. Wam


    In 50 days time, you can have a news item saying they have only 50 days to go - and they are boning up even harder

  8. Bronek Kozicki

    driving with 8 minutes one-way latency

    this is sure to raise blood pressure.

  9. P.Nutt

    Good Luck

    So either they will be driving a 1 ton bug around Mars in 100days or updating Mars maps for future missions to avoid the radioactive hole they left where the buggy impacted.

  10. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Hello World ...... Ru2die42

    "Every day is one day closer to the most challenging part of this mission," said Pete Theisinger, project manager at JPL.

    And the mission objectives are ...... similar in Sino Soviet Search Patterns?

    The Zeroday Trader Gold Metadata Mine Mind Field .......... AI Virtualised Playground where One is SMARTR Enabled and Field Testing Invisibly New Silent Secret Weapons ..... MaJIC Force Fields.

    Do you ever get the picture that governments are not telling you anything constructive about all that is really going in Intelligence Fields, Courtesy of the See Change to Digital Means for Meme Control?

    Although, It would be unfair to suggest that they would have that under wraps anywhere unclassifiable, for that would be somewhat insane in so many parallel realities.

    Curiosity killed the Cat and Satisfaction Brings Them Back for More is a Valuable Lesson Well Learnt and Sublimely Practised in Silenced Communities and Grateful Dead Head Quarters for Generations of Thought Generators....... Advanced Virtual Turing Machines taking care of your Futures with the AIDerivative Virtual Ventures Trading Body of Cyber Intelligent Assets?

    Have to get back to you on that one, folks, for those spooks are strangely quiet on the HyperRadioProActive IT Front Page with News from the Less Generally Well Known but Indisputable.

    Ok, I,m going to have a little lie down now. That was all quite exciting :-) .....and not a single word or sentiment of it a lie and unreal, which presents all manner of available future opportunities ..... today.

    In earlier days would the cry have been ........ Hold the Front Page! ....... whereas what do we have here now in its place apart from official smotherings and acres and acres of black pen and red tape?

    Enlighten us with SMARTR Silent Secrets.

  11. mark fernandes

    Big Bang Theory comment

    Just don't let Wolowitz near the rover controls...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Landing an SUV-sized vehicle next to the side of a mountain 85 million miles from home is always stimulating."

    Always? How many times has anyone had that opportunity?

  13. JeffyPooh

    'Mars Attacks'

    "Ack-ack. Ack. ACK!" (Ready. Aim. FIRE!)

    Have the bookmakers offered odds of a successful landing yet?

  14. Brezhnev's Shadow

    one-tonne SUV

    Is it a particularly small SUV, or fullsize, but made of made of papier mache? Are there any icy ditches where it can slide in nose-down like the real thing? ;)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Science wins again

    Science: 1

    Bronze-age beliefs: 0

    1. rciafardone

      Re: Science wins again


  16. h4rm0ny

    Pics (or at least Playmobile)

    Really? Not a single graphic or illustration?

    Here is rover being fussed over before launch:

    And here's a Dramatic Artists Impression with Visible Laser Beam of it in its future habitat:

    It's a beautiful thing!

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