back to article And it's off! NASA launches nuke-powered, laser-shooting, tank Perseverance to Mars to search for signs of life

Perseverance, the heaviest and most complex Martian rover yet, is on its way to the Red Planet aboard an Atlas V rocket that blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Thursday. NASA had a small launch window until the end of August to send the nuclear-powered bot off into space before Earth started moving away from Mars in …

  1. Peter X


    First up, +1 to everyone involved in this - it's awesome!

    However, regarding "RIMFAX", I guess we have to accept some bits of tech have to be developed years in advance and may actually be a bit out of date by the time they are used; I'm sure I'm not alone in hoping for something a bit better than faxed copies of crater rims... ;-)

    1. Roger Kynaston Bronze badge

      Re: RIMFAX

      This will only work for Brits but could this be Rimmer and so be a smeghead?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: RIMFAX

        You think only Brits have seen Red Dwarf? That'd be incorrect. In fact, I'll bet you a plugged nickle that more Yanks have watched it than Brits.

        1. Youngone

          Re: RIMFAX

          Is a plugged nickel something like a ha'penny?

          1. Dr AntiSol, astrophysicist

            Re: RIMFAX

            I think it's more like a Triganic Pu

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: RIMFAX

            No, no, no. You are thinking of a wooden nickle.

            However, if you shoot a hole in it you'll get a fair approximation.

          3. Blake St. Claire

            Re: RIMFAX

            Is a plugged nickel something like a ha'penny?

            More like a farthing.

      2. Gary Stewart

        Re: RIMFAX

        Long time listener, first time caller.

        "This will only work for Brits"

        Au contraire, I live in the city where PBS (the Public Broadcast System) first introduced British Comedy in the form of Monty Python's Flying Circus to the US in the mid 70's. Since that time I have watched so many Britcoms on PBS, including Red Dwarf, that I have trouble remembering them all but here is a list of the ones I remember, some better than others:

        Monty Python's Flying Circus, The Two Ronnies, Butterflies, Are You Being Served, Red Dwarf, Black Adder, To The Manor Born, Benny Hill, Ripping Yarns, The Good Life/Good Neighbors, Open All Hours, Only Fools and Horses, Mr Bean, The Young Ones, My Hero, Absolutely Fabulous, Yes Minister/Prime Minister, 'Allo'Allo!, Chef!, The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, Fawlty Towers, French and Saunders, Goodnight Sweetheart, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Jeeves and Wooster, Keeping Up Appearances, Up Pompeii!, Waiting for God, The Vicar of Dibley

        I'm sure they didn't show all episodes from all the years that some of these shows ran but at least I got a good sampling of them. I stopped supporting and watching PBS many years ago after they started airing commercials, and pretty much all TV shortly after that so I don't know about any of the more recent ones that they might have aired. Judging by my previous experiences with Britcom, I'm sure there are more than a few I wish I did know about.

        P.S. I am currently designing a talking toaster with on the edge AI. Any suggestions?

        1. Dr AntiSol, astrophysicist

          Re: RIMFAX

          Black Books is conspicuously absent from that list

          1. Gary Stewart

            Re: RIMFAX

            "Black Books is conspicuously absent from that list"

            As far as I know it was never shown in the US, at least not on PBS when I was watching it.

            "Shoot yourself, before it is too late."

            OK, but wouldn't you like some toast first?

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: RIMFAX

              I never noticed Black Books on DearOldTelly here in the US, either. However, most (all?) of it looks to be available on youtube.

              ::adds to mental "to be viewed as time presents itself" listie::

              A toast, then.

              1. Dr AntiSol, astrophysicist
                Thumb Up

                Re: RIMFAX

                I'm sure that those people who say "yar" and hang out in a bay would be happy to share a good quality copy. Hypothetically speaking. And then once you know it's worth the money (it totally is) you can order the DVDs. If DVDs are still a thing.

                Personally I'd rate Black Books as a "make the time: take a day off work" level priority. But to each his own. ;)


                1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                  Re: RIMFAX

                  "you can order the DVDs. If DVDs are still a thing."

                  Yes, DVDs are still a thing. But. There's a always a "but". But, if it's not currently available on, you might as well forget about it. Friends in the USA tell me ordering DVDs from is currently not viable. Some orders have taken months to arrive, others are now no longer available to order from the UK to USA and those which are still available have prohibitive shipping charges. If the US ever gets COVID-19 under control and flights resume between the UK and USA, orders may return to a semblance of normality but for the time being, assume that non-essentials are not going on cargo aircraft (a lot of cargo normally goes on passenger aircraft too, and they ain't flying)

                  1. Dr AntiSol, astrophysicist

                    Re: RIMFAX

                    Well then I'm thankful for JB Hi-Fi right about now. I've ordered a couple of things lately and they've been delayed, but not by much (~7-10 days instead of the usual 3-4). Thank bob for local retailers with local stock, I guess.

                    Might not work if you're buying something obscure or not available in your country, though.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: RIMFAX

          "Any suggestions?"

          Shoot yourself, before it is too late.

        3. SteveCarr

          Re: RIMFAX

          Ah, but can you list, in all honesty, "The Gnomes of Dulwich"?

          Thought as much....

        4. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

          Re: RIMFAX

          And we have the likes of PBS and other foreign broadcasters to thank for help preserving some programmes as the BBC used to wipe and reuse tape...

        5. aregross

          Re: RIMFAX

          The Young Ones was a fav of mine, uproariously over the top. The only episode I remember was when somebody (can't remember his name now) found a bicycle in the horribly disgusting bathtub, while taking a bath in the same! Good Stuff!

          Edit: It was Neil, just looked it up. I kinda Identified with Rick, not sure if that's good ro bad....!

        6. David Lewis 2

          Re: RIMFAX

          P.S. I am currently designing a talking toaster with on the edge AI. Any suggestions?

          Yes. Take great care with the diodes down the left side!

      3. Tessier-Ashpool

        Re: RIMFAX

        Could this in any way be related to the fine office tradition of photocopying your arse?

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: RIMFAX

      RIM is from rime, meaning frost. FAX is from an Old Norse word meaning mane (as in horse). The rover is named after one of the horses in Norse mythology, Hrímfaxi ... Thus William Morris' Silverfax (from The Well at the World's End), which in turn brought us Tolkien's Shadowfax.

      Back in March '94, when we were inspecting The Dish at Stanford after an accident sent it nose-first into the ground, one wag commented that ground-penetrating radar would have to be a lot smaller in order to become useful technology ... I guess he was right. Now it's small enough to send to Mars.

  2. Detective Emil

    23 cameras, microphones and a helicopter …

    Lasers too! Sounds like Samsung's next flagship phone. Well, maybe without the helicopter.

    Mine's the one with something heavy in the breast pocket …

    1. DubyaG

      Re: 23 cameras, microphones and a helicopter …

      Lasers? But no sharks? I have chum in my pockets.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: 23 cameras, microphones and a helicopter …

      Funny. My daughter bet me that one of the high-end phone manufacturers would offer a drone with their phone before the end of 2021 ...

  3. richardcox13

    Two two laser armed, nuclear powered robots...

    Clearly time for Robot Wars in SPAAAAAAAAAAAACE!

    In the red corner we have Curiosity, and in the other red corner we have Perseverance!

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Two two laser armed, nuclear powered robots...

      Sgt Bash could take both of them at once!

  4. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  5. Paul Herber Silver badge

    can't get my head around ..

    That mass going from 0 to supersonic in just over 30 seconds! Awesome.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: can't get my head around ..

      Saturn V (just under 3,000 tons) did it in about a minute on the way to the moon ... Just a historical reference, not a competition.

  6. Brian 3

    What is lightweight teflon? I'm only familiar with the ordinary kind which is considerably dense for a polymer.

    1. jake Silver badge

      A guess.

      It's a small piece of thin material. "Lightweight" in this case is a marketing term, to sell her experiment to manglement.

  7. LucreLout Silver badge

    Roll on the test flight....

    ... I'm stupidly excited abut the helicopter drone, almost as much as about the science the main vehicle will be doing.

    Well done NASA!!!

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Roll on the test flight....

      It's all very well. But who's going to explain it to Martian police when they have to shut down the local airport - due to unauthorised drone flying within its perimeter?

      We don't want to discover alien life by crashing an alien plane full of holidaymakers...

      1. Stumpy

        Re: Roll on the test flight....

        So, they're sending a mini-nuke to Mars, and you're more worried about the drone shutting down the local airspace?

        I'd be more worried about it fireballing into a previously unknown city and frying all the inhabitants.

        Cue mankind's first (and possibly last) interplanetary war.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Roll on the test flight....


      2. TXITMAN

        Re: Roll on the test flight....

        It looks like the Martians shut it down already. They must have an insider at one of the sub contractors.

  8. 0laf Silver badge

    I for one....

    Wish NASA's lastest nuclear tank all the best.

    Mars missions, yay.

    My boy is 9 and super interested in space and space science. I'd much rather have these fantastic missions to interest him than his other ambition which is to be a fucking Youtuber.

    Pints for all the steely eyed missile men and women (and anyone identifying in any other way but being a productive asset on the mission) on the project.

    1. Snowy

      Re: I for one....

      Is this the future todays children want

      1. KBeee

        Re: I for one....

        From last nights QI, there's somebody earning about $200,000 a month from playing with slime, and seeing how many chicken nuggets she can cram into her mouth. So I can see why YouTube looks tempting to a kid. Fuck! It looks tempting to me! (as the World circles round the plughole)

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: I for one....

          On the other hand, restaurants seem to be finally getting the message and telling "influencers" to fuck off when they ask for freebies in return for "exposure". I hope that attitude spreads to all other "influencer targets".

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    hopeful, but nervous

    I'm hopeful and excited for the mission, but nervous about the landing.

    7 minutes of terror sounds about right. Lots of complexity, lots of things that can go wrong, lots of automation (pros and cons to automation, of course). I'm thinking there will be a lot of blue faces at mission control during the landing sequence. Wishing craft and designers the best of luck!

    1. Tessier-Ashpool

      Re: hopeful, but nervous

      Should be ok. Retro rockets are tried and trusted technology, critical to every soft landing of astronauts returning to Earth on Soyuz capsules.

      I’m looking forward to the day when we get to see real video of it happening rather than CGI. Surely that’s worth the few million dollars it would take to do that.

  10. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    Well, I am glad that they were able to launch the mission during the current launch window

    And I am sure that H.G. Wells is having a chuckle somewhere about mankind sending yet another heat-ray bearing mechanical invader to Mars!

    So, let's hope that NASA is able to land the rover in one piece and get some more great science out of it. However, their track record for successful Mars missions has been pretty good now that they have figured out the whole metric/English measurement system conundrum and successfully used the "Seven minutes of terror" landing system already.

    1. HildyJ Silver badge

      Re: Well, I am glad that they were able to launch the mission during the current launch window

      "they have figured out the whole metric/English measurement system conundrum"

      If that was the case, shouldn't it be 4.86 decimal minutes of terror?

      Whatever the length, I hope for a safe landing in February=.

      1. Blake St. Claire

        Re: Well, I am glad that they were able to launch the mission during the current launch window

        Decimal minutes? Next you'll be proposing ten months: five with 36 days and five with 37 days. Or maybe all with 36 days and five days of holiday at the end of the year.


  11. Blake St. Claire

    in living technicolor

    To paraphrase Henry Ford: You can have it in any color as long as it's red.

  12. H in The Hague Silver badge


    Here's some more info about the microphones:

    The mics and preamp only required slight modifications for this application. These DPA mics are based on the Bruel & Kjaer measurement mics.

  13. Dom 3


    A very hand-wavey argument:

    If you want to be 95% sure that all of your rover's modules are still working after 90 days, you need to ensure that each one has a 99% chance of still working after 90 days. And if that's the case then there's a 66% chance that a component will be working after ten years.

    Which is more or less what we saw - some bits stopped working.

  14. ian 22

    War of the Worlds?

    It seems an entire FLEET of spacecraft are sailing towards Mars. Some armed with lasers and nuclear engines. It’s not "Mars Attacks", but Mars Attacked.

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