NASA's Curiosity Mars lander settled down on the Red Planet as scheduled, no problems, thank you ma'am, nothing to worry about ... oh, what is it? a quarter of a billion miles from here or so? Nice job, mates. A news conference is being held as we post this note, but we thought you might enjoy a few images from the live feed …
It was quite interesting to watch the people from various teams taking turns being excited with anticipation, then highly stressed and joyously relaxed again as their part of the entry/landing came and went.
The 'hippy guy' and the 'mohawk guy' two seats up from him were noted by several people, but as I said, 'if you are smart enough to work at JPL, you can do your hair any way you damn well like!"
My manager was surprised that the movie representations of the 'NASA' room were more accurate than she had ever expected.
...The 'hippy guy' and the 'mohawk guy' two seats up from him were noted by several people, but as I said, 'if you are smart enough to work at JPL, you can do your hair any way you damn well like!"
I always liked watching JPL Mission Control during the Pathfinder, MER and now the Curiosity landings, for the huge differences in appearance and "culture" between JPL Mission Control and the MSFC Mission Control in Houston. The guys in the "big room" in Houston are all clean-cut, straight-arrow-looking engineering types, and the JPL guys look like a bunch of old hippies.
#1 Before my local (Holland) news media picks up online.
#2 Really putting your alias into glory: cynical and critical where it counts.
No; even if all of that turns out to be untrue ('a billion miles after the intended place'?) (as I read it) it still doesn't matter to me because in all honesty your site description leaves little to guess. I /know/ before even reading the article you'll question whatever comes before you. Most often you're right, sometimes you're not, and sometimes you're tricked.
No one can accuse you guys for never trying. Lets not forget: "Sometimes you're not" can also easily occur due to the source changing its story (seriously meant, it honestly it happens sometimes BUT.. in "El Reg style": How is THAT for a fanboy comment?!).
I'm glad to see the skycrane idea worked - and am clearly not the only one!
I saw the BBC Horizon program last week about the mission and the sky-crane landing system. Flipping amazing stuff.
If only we could have had a video feed of that decent and landing. That would have been one awesome sight.
...If only we could have had a video feed of that decent and landing. That would have been one awesome sight.
When the Curiosity next-gen rover project was announced, my first thought was that maybe this would be the rover with the ability to capture and transmit full-motion video, even if it was only 320x240 grayscale clips. Oh, well, too bad, would've been cool. Still, this little hot rod's made of awesome, anyway.
I was never sure what kind of camera system -- if any -- the sky crane had. Pathfinder and MER, iirc, had low-res downward-pointed cameras that worked as part of the ground acquisition system for descent and landing. Some of the first images to come back from Pathfinder (and MER, if I remember) were ground-acquisition camera images looking straight down at the surface transmitted some seconds before touchdown.
I guess if Curiosity's sky crane had a system like that, we'd have gotten some really dramatic images back by now, of the newly-landed rover viewed from above as the sky crane flew off to auger itself in a safe distance away.
Speaking of which... shame, really, that the presence of spilled excess fuel at the sky crane's crash site preclude a visit by the Rover. Those would've been some really interesting images, especially for the engineers. Some of my favorite fotos from Spirit and Opportunity were the close-up shots of their crashed heatshields and backshells taken for the benefit of the engineers.
And now, I'll just finish with a song...
NASA realise the public is interested in this stuff and give what the people want. The people in the control room want to see the facts and figures, not pretty pictures, but they have a CGI parachuting probe on a big screen so the less technical public can get some visualisation of what's happening up there. The first picture was almost instantly downloaded, more for the press than the scientists I'm sure. And a substantial portion of the earth's population getting interested in science.
Contrast this with the startup of the LHC a few years ago. A room full of people staring blankly at screen full of figures. Cameramen desperately looking for something interesting to film. And now a public who can't be bothered to understand what the LHC is all about.
well, in all fairness, the LHC presents something that is a whole lot more abstract then Curiosity.
Curiosity is something the average person sitting in front of the TV can picture in their mind whereas when you tell them that at the LHC 2 beams are colliding at godknowshowmany TeV they will just stare at you blankly not knowing what the hell you're talking about.
also, what would you imagine an animation of what goes on at the LHC is going to look like ? 2 beams hitting each other and then suddenly a burst of pixels ... not very interesting to watch.
I thought they said the Rover itself used VxWorks?
OSX no doubt useful as it is a proper Unix.
(Plus it makes them look like Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day. Maybe if the Rover comes across some malevolent alien tech, they can use their Macbooks to upload a virus and save the day?)
Given that this was an automated landing, those Macs wouldn't have been doing anything more than consuming a datafeed and displaying it. Something which could be done of pretty much any hardware.
It's not like they're actually going to trust the piloting job to a commercial laptop, although I wouldn't have minded having a go, I used to be good at Lander back in the 80s... Although the latency might make this version a bit more challenging.
If you have a look at one of the other Reg curiosity articles you'll notice that JPL does not appear to be partisan about their choice of software.
Quite right. On the video feed, there were quite a few recognizable Thinkpads and other laptops than just Apple kit, even at that table. So which OS is preferred by The Best and the Brightest? Whichever one is the right tool for the job at hand, no more, no less.
Congrats to all a NASA and JPL. Fantastic work!
I sat here riveted to my monitor, amazing leap in technology.
Need manned missions, we need to expand our human footprint that way if we are going to have any assurance of our continued existence in the long term sense of things.
A ton of reasons! First off, the bottom of craters is where residual water would have collected before it all evaporated, so it's a good place to look for traces. And then you have your reason - an impact crater has a good chance to expose rock strata. Also, there's going to be lots of loose rock around from many different eras to zap with the frickin laser.
I believe they intend to drive out of the crater during the primary mission, and this thing will be able to cover a lot of ground.
The final destination is Aeolis Mons, a five-kilometre high mountain in the middle of Gale Crater. Gale is an impact crater, but is thought to have been full of water for hundreds of millions of years. As Curiosity climbs Aeolis Mons, it should encounter layers of sediments revealing what mission leader John Grotzinger calls "the dimension of deep time" (New Scientist web site)
Biggest US Mars probe *ever* x new wheel system x new landing mode x Martian probe failure rate (not to mention the odd Nautical Miles vs metres FUBAR) = cheeks squeezed so tight only a dog will hear your bottom burps.
A hell of a lot of people worked very hard to ensure there was *no* drama today. This could have gone pear shaped right till the end. Strictly the crane *could* have turned round and dropped right on the rover, a real BOFH way to end the mission.
But it didn't.
Congratulation to everyone involved. I hope the data it collects will be every bit as spectacular as its landing.
And future missions should work even better.
One of the issues with Martian lander design is the *exact* atmospheric profile you design them for. On Earth the top of the atmosphere can vary 10x and I'd guess Mars is somewhat similar.
So taking atmospheric density data on the way down may help them design the *next* generation of heat shields to need somewhat less ablative thickness, depending on when they arrive at Mars.
Every Kg of ablative you don't carry to Mars -> 1Kg more of instruments (or a smaller rocket) which at these kinds of prices is pretty important.
Oh how im going to suffer later today, despite setting the alarm my body woke me up to check the clock every hour since midnight, but at 6, my lads and I were up and watching the stream. We all watched as it was being built, taken off and now landing (to some degree)
We live in such a great time for technology.
Best Monday morning in years
The skycrane crash site will be leaking fuel and oxidiser from the rocket motor tanks and that could contaminate the instruments on Curiosity. They will be keeping the rover well away from it for that reason -- it's why they didn't simply land the rover on retro-rockets in the first place as that would have covered the payload in dust and chemical residues. There's no point other than, obviously, curiosity to go and look at some wreckage, no Science! in it, instead they're looking for pristine bits of Mars to crush and blast into teeny tiny fragments under the wheels of their fully operational nuclear-powered laser-armed supertank.
... bravo, NASA chaps. Shame you aren't getting the coverage you deserve (at least on UK news), but it's not your fault some shitwit thought it would be a good idea to massacre those poor folks in the Sikh temple. The rest of the headlines could be pushed down the importance list though.
Natural History Museum this morning, which put on a bit of a show with a live feed (and a Skype call) to NASA, simulated imagery and guest speakers giving presentations on the craft, the geology to be done, etc - about 200 people managed the early wake up to get there.
As for NASA - fantastic effort, good show, gin and tonics all round!
How do we know if Mars isn't a densely populated planet of femtoscopic people who live for nano seconds but to them is hundreds of years and like a scene from many a sci-fi movie they are being subjected to (again) a massive alien monster driving around destroying houses and factories firing laser beams and scooping up the ground. Has this been looked into?
look at the Motif look-alike interface of their image viewer.
Looks like being in space also means being 15 years back in time.
Which, if you think about it, makes sense. If your kit is going to work for years, without any chance of upgrade, you might as well start with technology that is several years old. If not shiny, it's at least sufficiently well-tested.
There is a standing rule in American politics, Any win that takes place under a Republican, is considered 100% the Presidents victory, any win under a Democrat is considered the win of anybody and everybody else, especially minority party politicians who usually voted against it. Faux News likes to call this "Fair and accurate reporting"
...the longest chain of dominos the species has set up that executed flawlessly? Even the Odyssey link they dreamed up near the end that required a new twist worked out. Heck, the weather cooperated, too. They definitely stuck that landing. Oh, and that descent shot with the parachute, too.
How do we take the global financial systems away from the blokes responsible and give the contract to JPL?