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posted by Fnord666 on Sunday March 28, @07:39PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the First-Post-on-Mars! dept.

Salon has an article on Ingenuity.

In 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright flew a plane for 12 seconds, 120 feet in the air, on what is now known as the first powered-controlled flight on Earth. Now, 118 years later, the first powered-controlled attempt at a flight on another planet is about to take place.

According to NASA, Ingenuity — the four-pound rotorcraft attached to Perseverance — is on its way to its "airfield" on Mars.

The space agency announced that its target for its first takeoff attempt will happen no earlier than April 8, 2021.

Ingenuity was designed as an experiment to see if it is possible to fly on Mars as we do here on Earth. And the process leading up to the takeoff is a very meticulous one. Consider how long it took humans to stick a powered-controlled flight on Earth; given Mars' thin atmosphere and a twenty-minute delay in communication, it is arguably more challenging on Mars.

"As with everything with the helicopter, this type of deployment has never been done before," Farah Alibay, Mars helicopter integration lead for the Perseverance rover, said in a press statement. "Once we start the deployment there is no turning back."

Every move for the next couple of weeks could make or break Ingenuity's success — starting with precisely positioning the rotorcraft in the middle of its 33-by-33-foot square airfield, which is actually a flat field on the Martian surface with no obstructions. From there, the entire deployment process from Perseverance will take about six Martian days, which are called sols. (The Martian sol is thirty-nine minutes longer than an Earth day.)

Good luck, little chopper!

Previously:
NASA Lays Out Plans for its First Flights on Mars
How NASA Designed a Helicopter that Could Fly Autonomously on Mars
NASA is Sending a Helicopter to Mars, but What For?


Original Submission

Related Stories

NASA is Sending a Helicopter to Mars, but What For? 34 comments

NASA is sending a helicopter to Mars, but what for?:

NASA's mission to send another rover to Mars is set to culminate in a successful landing on February 18, 2021, but that's not all the agency is sending to the Red Planet.

The Perseverance rover – once it lands next month – will begin scouring a section of Mars that astronomers believe could have hosted and supported microbial life in the past.

But a second passenger aboard the lander vehicle will be meant to do something else entirely.

The Mars Helicopter – also known as Ingenuity – will deploy alongside the rover, and will be NASA's attempt at trying to achieve successful controlled flight on Mars for the very first time.

Ingenuity weighs only four pounds, and is described as a "small, but mighty passenger". Though it has a fuselage (main body) no bigger than a tissue box, it's supposedly strong enough to brave the harsh weather conditions on the planet during flight.

Started as a wishful project about six years ago, the engineers behind Ingenuity understood that while it was theoretically possible to fly in Mars' super-thin atmosphere, there was no real conviction that they'd be able to build a vehicle that could fly, communicate, and survive on its own on Mars.

But after rounds of research and testing, the team have managed to create a flying vehicle that has so far survived all tests emulating Mars' environment, and the next step is to make it fly on the Red Planet for real.


Original Submission

How NASA Designed a Helicopter that Could Fly Autonomously on Mars 23 comments

How NASA Designed a Helicopter That Could Fly Autonomously on Mars:

Tucked under the belly of the Perseverance rover that will be landing on Mars in just a few days is a little helicopter called Ingenuity. Its body is the size of a box of tissues, slung underneath a pair of 1.2m carbon fiber rotors on top of four spindly legs. It weighs just 1.8kg, but the importance of its mission is massive. If everything goes according to plan, Ingenuity will become the first aircraft to fly on Mars.

In order for this to work, Ingenuity has to survive frigid temperatures, manage merciless power constraints, and attempt a series of 90 second flights while separated from Earth by 10 light minutes. Which means that real-time communication or control is impossible. To understand how NASA is making this happen, below is our conversation with Tim Canham, Mars Helicopter Operations Lead at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

It's important to keep the Mars Helicopter mission in context, because this is a technology demonstration. The primary goal here is to fly on Mars, full stop. Ingenuity won't be doing any of the same sort of science that the Perseverance rover is designed to do. If we're lucky, the helicopter will take a couple of in-flight pictures, but that's about it. The importance and the value of the mission is to show that flight on Mars is possible, and to collect data that will enable the next generation of Martian rotorcraft, which will be able to do more ambitious and exciting things.

NASA Lays Out Plans for its First Flights on Mars 9 comments

NASA lays out plans for its first flights on Mars:

On Tuesday, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) hosted a press conference where it detailed the plans for the Ingenuity drone that hitched a ride to Mars attached to the underside of the Perseverance rover. The scientists and engineers behind the drone announced that they've now picked a site for what is expected to be the first powered flight on another planet. With the site settled, they're now targeting April 8 for the flight, which will be the first in a month long series of test flights to validate the technology.

[...] Håvard Grip, Ingenuity's chief pilot, said that the test flights required two distinct areas, both of which needed to be flat. The inner part, which he called the airfield, had to have very little material that could interfere with landings. That needed to be surrounded by a larger area, called the flight zone, that had to have enough material in it that the drone's onboard image-processing system could track individual features in order to assist with navigation.

Grip said the search for an appropriate area started within a few hours of Perseverance's landing. That's because knowing where Perseverance was helped Grip and his colleagues search satellite imagery of the surrounding area. Once the rover was operational, the drone provided higher-resolution imagery of potential sites.

In the end, things couldn't be much more convenient, as the rover landed on what will be the edge of the flight zone, which extends north from the landing site.

[...] If everything goes well with depositing Ingenuity and its systems check out, the earliest we could see a flight is in two weeks, on April 8. A month has been set aside for five flights, with extensive checkouts of the system between each. During this time, however, Perseverance won't be able to move on to its main science mission.


Original Submission

NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter Survives First Freezing Night on Mars 19 comments

News at CNN:

(CNN) The Ingenuity helicopter survived its first night on the freezing-cold surface of Mars, a major milestone in the rotorcraft's journey ahead of its historic first flight.

Jezero Crater, an ancient lake bed on Mars and the current site of the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter, can drop to temperatures of minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit. That's low enough to do significant damage to the helicopter's electrical and battery components.

The 4-pound helicopter finally separated on April 3 from the belly of the Perseverance rover, where it has been stashed since before the rover launched from Earth in July.

Ingenuity went through a series of movements to unfold from beneath the rover, which looked like the metamorphosis of a butterfly, before dropping the final 4 inches to the Martian surface.

[...] "This is the first time that Ingenuity has been on its own on the surface of Mars," said MiMi Aung, Ingenuity project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, in a statement. "But we now have confirmation that we have the right insulation, the right heaters, and enough energy in its battery to survive the cold night, which is a big win for the team. We're excited to continue to prepare Ingenuity for its first flight test."

When Ingenuity does fly, which could happen as soon as April 11, it will be the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. In a nod to the first such feat conducted on Earth, Ingenuity carries a swatch of fabric from the Wright brothers' plane, Flyer 1.

Ingenuity, the first rotorcraft sent to Mars, presented a challenge to the engineers who designed it for several reasons. It needed to be small enough to tuck up under the rover without endangering Perseverance's mission, which is the first to search for evidence of ancient microbial life on Mars.

April 11, or 4-11! Or later.

Previously:>br> NASA’s Mars Rover Drops Off Ingenuity Helicopter Ahead of Historic Flight
First Flight on Mars? Ingenuity Helicopter Preps for Takeoff
NASA Lays Out Plans for its First Flights on Mars


Original Submission

NASA's Mars Helicopter Ingenuity Set for 7th Red Planet Flight on Sunday 9 comments

Never Say Never Again

NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity set for 7th Red Planet flight on Sunday:

NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity will take to the air again this weekend, if all goes according to plan.

Ingenuity's handlers are prepping the 4-lb. (1.8 kilograms) chopper for its seventh Martian flight, which will take place no earlier than Sunday (June 6). The plan is to send Ingenuity to a new airfield, about 350 feet (105 meters) south of its current location on the floor of Jezero Crater.

"This will mark the second time the helicopter will land at an airfield that it did not survey from the air during a previous flight," NASA officials wrote in an update on Friday (June 4). "Instead, the Ingenuity team is relying on imagery collected by the HiRISE camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that suggests this new base of operations is relatively flat and has few surface obstructions."

Data from the flight will be beamed home to Earth over the three days following the flight, they added.

Video:See the view on Mars from Ingenuity helicopter's fourth flight

Previously:
Surviving an In-Flight Anomaly: What Happened on Ingenuity's Sixth Flight
Mars Helicopter Suffered Glitch During Flight, Forced Emergency Landing
Mars Helicopter Flight Delayed to No Earlier than April 14
NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter Survives First Freezing Night on Mars
NASA's Mars Rover Drops Off Ingenuity Helicopter Ahead of Historic Flight
First Flight on Mars? Ingenuity Helicopter Preps for Takeoff
NASA Lays Out Plans for its First Flights on Mars


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2) by progo on Sunday March 28, @08:00PM (70 children)

    by progo (6356) on Sunday March 28, @08:00PM (#1130413) Homepage

    I'm not saying they're doing it wrong, but wow -- things really run slow when you're operating robots remotely on Mars. All this time since the mission landed, the helicopter team is waiting on the edge of their seat to see if it works.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Socrastotle on Sunday March 28, @08:16PM (68 children)

      by Socrastotle (13446) on Sunday March 28, @08:16PM (#1130419) Journal

      One thing I like to emphasize is how rovers and probes have helped us make some absolutely critical and shocking discoveries. For instance in 2013 it was discovered that the Martian soil oddly enough has a fair amount of water in it, about 2% per volume. So a cubic foot of soil gets you about a liter of water. Now think about something. The first successful probe was sent to Mars in 1964. So it only took us about 50 years of probes and rovers to learn that the soil is somewhat moist...

      Within a week of landing a human on Mars, we will likely have learned exponentially more about the planet than half a century of probes and rovers have taught us.

      • (Score: 4, Funny) by pe1rxq on Sunday March 28, @08:21PM (60 children)

        by pe1rxq (844) on Sunday March 28, @08:21PM (#1130422) Homepage

        Don't forget that the survival of this first human relies heavily on the 50 years of lessons learned with probes....
        Plenty of mistakes have been made in those years, luckily no humans where on board when some idiots started using inches, feet and pounds (probably while chanting 'USA! USA! USA!')

        • (Score: 2, Touché) by khallow on Sunday March 28, @08:32PM (47 children)

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 28, @08:32PM (#1130424) Journal

          Don't forget that the survival of this first human relies heavily on the 50 years of lessons learned with probes....

          How many more decades of "learning with probes" will we have to endure? At some point, survival of the first human will have to rely heavily on that first mission.

          • (Score: 2) by PartTimeZombie on Sunday March 28, @09:27PM (32 children)

            by PartTimeZombie (4827) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 28, @09:27PM (#1130449)

            Lots apparently.

            Every time I moan about the lack of manned missions to Mars people try to tell me how dangerous it is but none of those dangers seem like something that should stop a determined effort.

            I'm not claiming it would be easy, but that doesn't sound like a reason to not do it either.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 28, @09:50PM (26 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 28, @09:50PM (#1130458)

              How about they clean up their units first before trying to send people to other planets?

              E = hf

              In units that is:

              Joules = Joules * sec * cycles/sec
              J = J * cycles

              Which is false. The units of h must be J * s / cycle, ie plank's constant is the minimum quanta of energy that is constant across all wavelengths.
              https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planck%E2%80%93Einstein_relation [wikipedia.org]

              Everything goes bad from there leading to more and more bizarre deductions.

              https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325462944_Planck's_Constant_and_the_Nature_of_Light [researchgate.net]

              • (Score: 2) by PartTimeZombie on Monday March 29, @12:58AM (5 children)

                by PartTimeZombie (4827) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 29, @12:58AM (#1130529)

                Err, did you respond in the wrong thread?

                None of that has any bearing on sending people to Mars.

                • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @01:37AM (4 children)

                  by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @01:37AM (#1130548)

                  Yea it does. If you want safe and cheap interplanetary travel, then it would help if your system of physics didn't fail dimensional analysis.

                  All because men don't feel comfortable hearing the words period or cycle. They fudged physics 100 years ago redefined cycles per second as Hz to be 1/sec.

                  • (Score: 2) by PartTimeZombie on Monday March 29, @02:33AM (2 children)

                    by PartTimeZombie (4827) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 29, @02:33AM (#1130577)

                    Oh right. That's why GPS doesn't work.

                    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @07:16AM (1 child)

                      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @07:16AM (#1130656)

                      Who mentioned GPS?

                      How bizarre, it is like you have no idea how to respond so just said some default phrase. Bot?

                      • (Score: 2) by PartTimeZombie on Monday March 29, @07:58PM

                        by PartTimeZombie (4827) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 29, @07:58PM (#1130893)

                        You have no idea how any of that fits together do you?

                        The earth is not flat, no matter how hard you try.

                  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @01:07PM

                    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @01:07PM (#1130708)

                    Talking of periods, 1 period is the inverse of a cycle, which in turn (pun intended) is the tangent. Hence those nasty infinities that NOBODY wants to talk about.

              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday March 29, @05:15AM (19 children)

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 29, @05:15AM (#1130621) Journal

                Which is false. The units of h must be J * s / cycle, ie plank's constant is the minimum quanta of energy that is constant across all wavelengths.

                Which is false by proper dimensional analysis. Planck's constant, h is indeed Joules cycles. You're just moving units from f to h. It's irrelevant to the physics where the units lie.

                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @07:21AM (14 children)

                  by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @07:21AM (#1130660)

                  It isn't moving anything. It is using the correct units for frequency of cycles/sec instead of 1/sec. While no numerical predictions are altered, this has many consequences such as reinterpreting the "uncertainty principle" as telling us the minimum allowed energy change per cycle. This is described in the link.

                  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday March 29, @02:37PM (13 children)

                    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 29, @02:37PM (#1130760) Journal

                    It isn't moving anything. It is using the correct units for frequency of cycles/sec instead of 1/sec.

                    In other words, you moved the unit of cycles from h to f. It doesn't change anything. That numerical predictions aren't altered is an indication that nothing has changed.

                    In the linked paper above, equation 15 is not based on anything ("Again, using the logic from equation (4), the position-momentum relation is written as"). Look at the difference between equation 11 which is a valid expression of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and equation 15 which is not: \delta x * \delta p >= h. (11)

                    \delta x * \delta p >= h_{\delta} * \delta t. (15)

                    Where did that \delta t come from? Why are we to suppose that h_{\delta} is a constant? Another leap of logic is to then assign \delta E = (\delta x * \delta p)/\delta t (in (17)), and claim that there is a minimum energy step as a result.

                    The Heisenberg uncertainty principle is a special case of a general idea [wikipedia.org] involving the Fourier transform of noncommuting operators (the momentum p and the energy E are Fourier transforms of the respective position x and time t). This Fourier transform is unique (meaning the transform can be reversed and the inverse Fourier transform also happens to be unique). Energy E already has a Fourier transform t. It can't also have a different second Fourier transform of a constant h. Thus, the inequality of (17) doesn't have a basis in the Fourier transform unlike the other inequalities.

                    Of course, this is due to a traditional quantum model that is unlikely to hold at extremely small scales of x and t. It is possible that there is a minimum energy step (a discretization of energy) and it may well be your adjusted h in size (as a cycle), but this has not been shown.

                    Any new, better model, discretized or not, will need to have some sort of Fourier-like transform appearing at the macroscopic level. One big caution is that due to relativity, we are unlikely to have a nice grid pattern of parameters like position and momentum, possibly time and energy too. There will probably be strong limits to what we can discretize.

                    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @03:41PM (12 children)

                      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @03:41PM (#1130779)

                      The SI units of h are J*sec, if you don't even know that I wont bother with the rest.

                      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday March 29, @04:28PM (11 children)

                        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 29, @04:28PM (#1130804) Journal
                        You aren't saying anything relevant.
                        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @05:29PM (10 children)

                          by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @05:29PM (#1130845)

                          How did I move the unit of cycles from where they don't exist?

                          The problem is that those units are missing from *both* h and f.

                          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 30, @03:57AM (9 children)

                            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30, @03:57AM (#1131061) Journal

                            The problem is that those units are missing from *both* h and f.

                            Which is fine as long as they are either both missing or both present. Multiply and divide by the same unit cancels.

                            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, @04:34AM (8 children)

                              by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, @04:34AM (#1131071)

                              No, it is not fine if the cycle unit is missing. It misleads people to interpret the equations incorrectly.

                              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 30, @08:10AM (7 children)

                                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30, @08:10AM (#1131117) Journal

                                No, it is not fine if the cycle unit is missing.

                                What's missing about a "cycle unit" that automatically cancels out? It's never present in the first place!

                                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, @11:46AM (1 child)

                                  by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, @11:46AM (#1131150)

                                  It doesn't "automatically cancel out".

                                  We choose the units of the constant so that it does. And those units tell us the meaning of the constant.

                                  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 30, @03:23PM

                                    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30, @03:23PM (#1131224) Journal

                                    It doesn't "automatically cancel out".

                                    We choose the units of the constant so that it does.

                                    It would not be E= hf, otherwise.

                                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, @01:24PM (4 children)

                                  by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, @01:24PM (#1131182)

                                  By dropping cycles from the units of frequency you have changed the meaning of Planck's constant (and probably others as well).

                                  All the math works out the same but now everyone is confused about what the numbers mean so everything seems "spooky" and non-intuitive.

                                  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 30, @03:26PM

                                    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30, @03:26PM (#1131226) Journal

                                    By dropping cycles from the units of frequency you have changed the meaning of Planck's constant (and probably others as well).

                                    All the math works out the same but now everyone is confused about what the numbers mean so everything seems "spooky" and non-intuitive.

                                    "All the math works out the same" says it all. This is irrelevant to the model and the math of that model.

                                  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 30, @03:36PM (2 children)

                                    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30, @03:36PM (#1131235) Journal
                                    Sorry, trying this again.

                                    By dropping cycles from the units of frequency you have changed the meaning of Planck's constant (and probably others as well).

                                    No, we haven't!

                                    All the math works out the same but now everyone is confused about what the numbers mean so everything seems "spooky" and non-intuitive.

                                    "All the math works out the same" says it all. This is irrelevant to the model and the math of that model.

                                    I can't believe there's all this noise over a simple two factor equation, much less in a rocket discussion where even the equation is completely irrelevant. Let me guess, this was all about just dropping a link to that paper?

                                    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, @04:09PM (1 child)

                                      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, @04:09PM (#1131247)

                                      The units of a constant tell you what it represents.

                                      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 30, @04:54PM

                                        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30, @04:54PM (#1131270) Journal

                                        The units of a constant tell you what it represents.

                                        Again, irrelevant since it doesn't matter if "cycles" is or isn't part of those units.

                • (Score: 2) by PartTimeZombie on Monday March 29, @08:00PM (3 children)

                  by PartTimeZombie (4827) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 29, @08:00PM (#1130894)

                  Don't bother.

                  That A/C is a flat earther, and is attempting to prove the earth is flat and that we don't know how rockets work. (Or something. He's a weirdo)

                  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, @11:49AM (2 children)

                    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, @11:49AM (#1131153)

                    No one mentioned flat earth or rockets not working. You might be the dumbest person posting here, dumber than deathmonkey who can do nothing but parrot talking points. You parrot standard "debunkings" about unrelated topics.

                    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 30, @03:38PM (1 child)

                      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30, @03:38PM (#1131236) Journal
                      Even if that were somehow true, it doesn't mean that PartTimeZombie got this wrong. It's pretty weird to bring up the completely irrelevant photoelectric model in a discussion about rockets. Flat Earthing is a good explanation for the weirdness.
            • (Score: 2) by EvilSS on Monday March 29, @02:32PM (3 children)

              by EvilSS (1456) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 29, @02:32PM (#1130756)
              We have very few rovers but lots and lots of people. Why don't we stop with the rovers and start sending people instead. Eventually one group will manage to not die. Probably.
              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday March 29, @03:20PM (2 children)

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 29, @03:20PM (#1130774) Journal

                Why don't we stop with the rovers and start sending people instead. Eventually one group will manage to not die.

                Odds are good that it'll be the first group too that survives. We have figured out problems like this before. Rovers have their place, when they are used sensibly. But sending one or two rovers roughly every decade is not such use.

                Unmanned vehicle use in the Apollo Program is instructive. They sent 21 probe missions (7 impactors (plus two that failed on liftoff), 5 to the Moon as part of the Apollo program over an eight year period (1961-1968), 5 [wikipedia.org]orbiters [wikipedia.org], and 6 landers [wikipedia.org]) to scout out potential landing sites. Mars has longer waits between launch windows (2 years instead of a month), but the above tempo would still be feasible.

                Any effective attempt to land people will likely have a surge of unmanned missions prior to the first person landing, just because they'll need lots of information that isn't gathered now! And a number of plans for manned missions involve working unmanned infrastructure (like a methane extraction plant or deployed power plants, solar or nuclear) before the first manned mission launches.

                Let's not make the mistake that we're doing anything concrete towards manned exploration of Mars at present. It's hobby level. Hopefully, SLS will die in the next decade without replacement, and we can refocus the world's resources better towards important goals like eventual space colonization.

                • (Score: 2) by EvilSS on Tuesday March 30, @02:18PM (1 child)

                  by EvilSS (1456) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30, @02:18PM (#1131203)
                  Again though, landers are really expensive, people are a dime a dozen. Hell, you can hardly swing a dead cat and avoid hitting a few. It would be cheaper and faster to just lob humans at the rusty rock than expensive tech. Heck, we could rename the planet Marstralia and start sending prisoners. That would be a net profit!
                  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 30, @03:40PM

                    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30, @03:40PM (#1131238) Journal
                    The joke is ruined by noting that the cost of getting people off of Earth's surface alone is pretty expensive. You've already done much of the work of a proper mission.
            • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Monday March 29, @04:59PM

              by Freeman (732) on Monday March 29, @04:59PM (#1130830) Journal

              While I admit I'm one of those people that say, there's not much benefit or possibly any direct benefit to the population of Earth for sending some to Mars. An agency like NASA needs serious popular backing from the people of the country and those in charge and for those in charge to be serious about going to Mars. That happened with the Moon for a lot of reasons, but there is no driving purpose behind a mission to Mars. That is why the most likely candidate to actually make it to Mars is SpaceX. NASA might actually tag along once SpaceX has made it, but only because SpaceX already made it. Same story for the Moon. There's no money in getting to the Moon or Mars. There's plenty of money to had for saying you're going to build a rocket that could take you to the Moon / Mars, though. At a mere $1B per launch or whatever. NASA could have been there, could be leading, but hasn't and isn't. The rest of the rocket / space agencies in the world barely stack up in comparison. Russia's space agency has a serious legacy, but that is all they have, sadly. China doesn't have the legacy, but may get there. In the meantime SpaceX is hitting milestone after milestone and is seriously on track, more than any other agency or space company in the world.

              --
              Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
          • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday March 29, @11:42AM (13 children)

            by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 29, @11:42AM (#1130680) Journal

            How many more decades of "learning with probes" will we have to endure? At some point, survival of the first human will have to rely heavily on that first mission.

            Patience, khallow, that higher ground is not yet ready to start pooping onto it.
            Better do something about burning fossils on Earth first - maybe humanity will borrow enough time to get there

            --
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday March 29, @03:28PM (12 children)

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 29, @03:28PM (#1130777) Journal

              Better do something about burning fossils on Earth first - maybe humanity will borrow enough time to get there

              Didn't you just write [soylentnews.org]:

              True. 'xcept the storage prices come down fast lately and then one can move in storing all that's needed and feed-in nothing. Totally achievable with the rooftop area available. We're early on in the process; once it picks up speed it will accelerate the downfall into the death spiral for power utilities - the more money you try to squeeze, the less participants to squeeze will choose to stay with you.

              Sounds like the box is checked off already.

              So why shouldn't we be tackling more interesting problems now?

              • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday March 29, @04:30PM (11 children)

                by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 29, @04:30PM (#1130806) Journal

                Sounds like the box is checked off already.

                On the way there, the story didn't end.

                So why shouldn't we be tackling more interesting problems now?

                True, true. [youtube.com]
                Like, how you get there enough power generation to support even a small human colony of a dozen?

                --
                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday March 29, @04:54PM (10 children)

                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 29, @04:54PM (#1130825) Journal

                  On the way there, the story didn't end.

                  We weren't going to Mars next Tuesday either. Sounds like if you're right, then the fossil fuel problem will be long gone by the time we get to Mars, even if we hurry up Mars activities right now.

                  Like, how you get there enough power generation to support even a small human colony of a dozen?

                  Like solar power? Sounds like you Aussies already have that figured out.

                  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday March 29, @09:46PM (9 children)

                    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 29, @09:46PM (#1130930) Journal

                    Like solar power? Sounds like you Aussies already have that figured out.

                    Now compute how many SLS-loads worth of solar panels one needs to get on Mars for a decent power budget and how long it will take given the Boeing speed of producing them (grin)

                    --
                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
                    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 30, @04:45AM (8 children)

                      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30, @04:45AM (#1131075) Journal

                      Now compute how many SLS-loads worth of solar panels one needs to get on Mars for a decent power budget and how long it will take given the Boeing speed of producing them (grin)

                      How about if someone else, more SpaceX-like makes them instead? Fuck Boeing. Their waste isn't going to get us anywhere.

                      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday March 30, @05:47AM (7 children)

                        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30, @05:47AM (#1131089) Journal

                        Ok, get on with that back of the napkin computation.

                        Given the first thing the... say... 25 colonist will need are shelters and that they're likely need to be protected by a layer of martian soil fast (not enough atmosphere and no magnetic field to protect against the radiation), probs 500kW installed power would be a minimum - soil is a bitch to move and compact. If what they say is true - some water present - drying it up to avoid corrosion may require even more.

                        --
                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
                        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 30, @08:06AM (6 children)

                          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30, @08:06AM (#1131114) Journal

                          probs 500kW installed power would be a minimum

                          I think more like 100 kW base load, but let's go with the above. On Earth, one can get roughly 1 kW of solar generation capacity for 100 kg of mass, including mounting infrastructure, (see here [energysage.com] for some numbers). Solar influx is halved for the more distant Mars, so that goes up to 1 KW for 200 kg (or 0.2 metric tons) of mass using said inefficient Earth system. 2000 kW of such capacity (using the rule of thumb that a quarter of that would base load power) would be 2000 kW*0.2 mT/kW=400 metric tons which isn't that much mass for a 25 person staff (I'd budget 100-200 mT per person for food, gear, spacecraft, shielding, and the above power generation).

                          So just buying Earth-side solar power systems off the shelf and putting them on rockets, means you can get a large amount of generating power for surprisingly little mass.

                          • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday March 30, @08:46AM (5 children)

                            by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30, @08:46AM (#1131130) Journal

                            Admitting the cargo is dropped in advance and the 25 get there afterwards - extra protection against radiation for more than 1 year journey, food, water, air etc will amount for something - how many SpaceX rockets for the PV alone?

                            --
                            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
                            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 30, @09:27AM (4 children)

                              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30, @09:27AM (#1131138) Journal
                              If they're using Falcon 9s, they probably could get a ratio of 20 tons of cargo and 40 tons of propellant/booster (I'm going with chemical propulsion on a Falcon 9 upper stage). So 60 Falcon 9 launches would handle putting that stuff in Mars orbit. It still needs to get to the ground near the desired landing point on Mars and some payloads would be lost. My take though is that you probably can get it done in 100 launches from Earth. using present day launch technology. At $80 mil per, that's $8 billion in launch costs (ignoring significant economies of scale).
                              • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday March 30, @11:22AM (3 children)

                                by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30, @11:22AM (#1131145) Journal

                                Batteries (yet to be invented - few chemistries -100C over the Martian night, cabling, equipment for transporting them in place (I doubt that the precision of Mars drops would be less than 10km radius) and assembly. And that's just the power.

                                Air, water, short term shelter, food, recycling facilities. Protective equipment - you ain't gonna be able to repair the spacelike suits soon. Local comms, transponders, satellite dish for orbit.
                                Binders to make bricks/beams/etc from Mars soil. Mini-earth moving equipment for building permanent shelters.
                                Medicine/bandages, surgical equip, sterilizers, etc. - get to the closest hospital in about a year travel time.
                                Entertainment - they'll be isolated.

                                Mate, we aren't going to see them in our life time. The programme is gonna take longer than two election cycles and the govts will interfere.

                                --
                                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
                                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 30, @03:31PM (2 children)

                                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30, @03:31PM (#1131231) Journal
                                  So you're telling me that the problem is hard, it might require a lot of mass from Earth, and someone will probably need to work to get that stuff to work? Who knew?

                                  I'll just note that there are people who deal with hard space problems now, we have launch vehicles capable of putting the necessary mass into space now, and it's going to be a 25 person settlement, which means we would have some man-power out there with which to put stuff together when we'll need it put together.
                                  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday March 30, @09:21PM (1 child)

                                    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30, @09:21PM (#1131364) Journal

                                    I'm telling you that is going to be a "super slow exploration".

                                    --
                                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
                                    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday March 31, @04:25PM

                                      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 31, @04:25PM (#1131668) Journal
                                      "Super slow" compared to a few token unmanned missions a decade? No way.
        • (Score: 2) by Socrastotle on Monday March 29, @04:29AM (11 children)

          by Socrastotle (13446) on Monday March 29, @04:29AM (#1130608) Journal

          What do you have in mind? I know of nothing we've discovered that would have doomed an otherwise well prepared mission. Many of the things we're learning about have more to do with long term colonization of the planet, which humans on the planet could be doing better and exponentially faster. Keep in mind that the first people on Mars will be living in the ship that brings them there, most likely for the entirety of their trip. And if they can survive in the dangers of space in that ship, they can survive in the relative utopia of Mars' surface in it.

          The prerequisites that actually exist are stuff that NASA has had 50 years to begin working on, and still hasn't started. The most obvious and critical here is retropulsive landing, similar how to SpaceX lands its boosters on Earth today. With the Rube Goldbergian machinations they continue to use to land rovers, you have extremely brittle systems that have negligible payload capacities.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday March 29, @06:31AM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 29, @06:31AM (#1130639) Journal

            With the Rube Goldbergian machinations they continue to use to land rovers, you have extremely brittle systems that have negligible payload capacities.

            The technology demonstration issue is a real problem here. Little of what they're doing now can translate over to a manned mission - such as airbags of the Pathfinder and Mars Exploration Rover missions and the present sky crane used by Curiosity and Perseverance. Those technologies will only be used a few times each. Any serious manned effort will have to develop from scratch landing (and many other) technologies, but they will be used dozens or more times.

          • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @06:36AM (6 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @06:36AM (#1130641)

            Any mission to mars has a built in 18 month stay without resupply or ability to return. That imposes severe minimum requirements for manned operations. The biggest problem is lack of budget, due to NASA being used as a vehicle to shove money at Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The Space Shuttle, Constellation, and now SLS, have all been hideously and needlessly expensive drains on NASA's science and exploration departments over the last 40 years. In every case that expense was imposed through political machinations to the detriment of science. Deliberation is a hard requirement for anything done in space, but it becomes much more difficult when you are hamstrung by a shoestring budget.

            • (Score: 2) by Socrastotle on Monday March 29, @08:56AM (2 children)

              by Socrastotle (13446) on Monday March 29, @08:56AM (#1130669) Journal

              I increasingly feel like this is claiming that the biggest problem with our education system is a lack of budget. [ed.gov] If you don't get my cynicism there, check the link. We spend more on education/capita than nearly anywhere in the world. Even "poor" districts in the US tend to have greater economic resources than well to do schools in most other countries, including those having far better educational outcomes than we are. So obviously there's a problem besides money.

              And so too for NASA. How much do you think the Apollo program cost? It cost $25.4 billion in 1973 dollars. That's about $150 billion dollars inflation adjusted. And that was spent over a period of 12 years (1961-1972). That's an average of $12.5 billion per year to go from basically no knowledge of human spaceflight, whatsoever, to walking on the moon. And today NASA's budget is $23.3 billion per year. That is damn sure not a "shoe-string budget." And they have the detailed recorded knowledge of absolutely everything we learned what's now 60 years ago. I mean even if they've lost all ability to innovate, they should at least be able to clone successes of sixties NASA for far less.

              I agree with you that the SLS, and other more general forms of corruption, are complete and utter wastes of money. But at the same time, you also can't just handwave away NASA's problems because of some pork. They're nothing but a shell of the organization that achieved great things a half century ago. The same organization that put a man on the moon in the past, is now trying to get people hyped about the launch of a toy drone on Mars. It's just getting somewhat absurd.

              • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @12:17PM (1 child)

                by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @12:17PM (#1130693)

                That is what the procedures of the US government optomizes.

                It takes something cheap and useful then over time makes it expensive and worthless. See college degrees and healthcare.

                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @01:14PM

                  by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @01:14PM (#1130712)

                  Fortunately that's where for-profit universities like Trump U and Liberty step in. The invisible hand reaches around and grabs the pussy.

            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday March 29, @04:49PM (2 children)

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 29, @04:49PM (#1130821) Journal

              Any mission to mars has a built in 18 month stay without resupply or ability to return. That imposes severe minimum requirements for manned operations.

              They're not that severe. It's just mass.

              The biggest problem is lack of budget, due to NASA being used as a vehicle to shove money at Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

              In other words, NASA gets an adequate budget, it's just flushed on bad efforts as Socrastotle noted.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, @03:20AM (1 child)

                by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, @03:20AM (#1131053)

                Mass costs money to deliver and they have payload limits to consider. SLS block 1 is expected to put 57k pounds into lunar orbit for 'only' $2 billion, and they hope to be able to launch once per year once they get production issues sorted out. That is over $35k per pound and only covers launch costs. Payload to Mars should be even less for the same money, and that one launch per year also covers lunar missions and other deep space operations. At that cadence and with a Mars launch window every 18 months then we can expect at most one Mars launch every three years. There are reasons that NASA is talking about going to Mars in the 2030's at the soonest. Frankly the 2040's is probably overly optimistic.

                For comparison: Assuming worst case pricing of $100 million per launch and limited to a single tower, for the same price as one SLS launch SpaceX should be able to launch 10 Starships, and 1 Starship tanker ten times, sending 1500 tonnes, or 3.3 million pounds, to Mars each 18 month window. That is the difference that flushing your money has on how much mass you can send.

                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 30, @04:14AM

                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30, @04:14AM (#1131067) Journal

                  For comparison: Assuming worst case pricing of $100 million per launch and limited to a single tower, for the same price as one SLS launch SpaceX should be able to launch 10 Starships, and 1 Starship tanker ten times, sending 1500 tonnes, or 3.3 million pounds, to Mars each 18 month window. That is the difference that flushing your money has on how much mass you can send.

                  And IMHO SpaceX could do that with a few year build up. No screwing around for another 30 years, start making it happen in say the 2024 launch window (there's a lot of build up that needs to be done to any serious Mars effort, including technology demonstrations).

          • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Monday March 29, @02:16PM (2 children)

            by HiThere (866) on Monday March 29, @02:16PM (#1130744) Journal

            There's a problem with the 2 year lag in supplies arriving once you know you need them.

            We don't yet have a "nearly closed ecosystem" for use in space. And it's both really slow and really expensive to send mass that far. This is one reason a Lunar base would make sense as a first step, even though it probably couldn't develop into something self-sufficient. (Well, actually it could, but it will take many more advances before it's practical.)

            FWIW, my eventual goal is mobile cities in space with "nearly closed ecosystems". Nearly closed enough that they can "live off the land". And don't think of mobile as fast. To avoid problems with meteors, etc. they will need to travel at close to the rate of the local drift, but to keep entering new areas with unused resources they'll need to travel at a slightly different speed. I'd like them to live in the Oort clouds until they decide to take off for other areas, but that will probably require controlled fusion. (Don't think James Blish, think George Zebrowski...but he put more speed on his Megalife than I think plausible.) And my answer to Fermi's paradox is that once they've lived a few decades in a space city, nobody wants to live on a planet. (But we might look for abandoned mines out in the Oort clouds.)

            --
            Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @06:39PM (1 child)

              by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @06:39PM (#1130883)

              A manned moon base can never be fully self-sufficient as there is no known source of chlorine, but you are correct that it is ideal both for practice and as a supply base for the materials it can provide. All airless bodies have similar issues. Mars can become self-sufficient given time but that is another major hurdle on its own.

              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 30, @04:42AM

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30, @04:42AM (#1131073) Journal

                A manned moon base can never be fully self-sufficient as there is no known source of chlorine

                While it is presently unknown, my take is that there's probably deep crust sources of chlorine in the Moon. All that volcanism is chemically similar to volcanism on Earth (which often has a lot of chlorine and fluorine in it, such as at Iceland), and we know from the dispersion of some lava eruptions on the Moon, that at one point it did have considerable volatiles in the magma source to cause that dispersion. So it is reasonable to expect that some of these volatiles are still trapped in the Moon or chemically bonded to igneous rock.

                A stronger case can be made for hydrogen and nitrogen which both are similarly scarce on the Moon's surface, but required in far greater quantities.

      • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 28, @09:09PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 28, @09:09PM (#1130441)

        Moron.. the results clearly demonstrate that it only rains every 50 years on Mars. Elon's going to be drinking his piss and wishing he'd stayed on Earth.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @06:40AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @06:40AM (#1130642)

          Every astronaut that stays on the ISS is drinking their own piss, but they've all been so impressed by the view that nobody seems to have noticed. I think Elon will be fine as long as he stays away from the Flavor-aid.

      • (Score: 3, Touché) by RS3 on Sunday March 28, @09:15PM (2 children)

        by RS3 (6367) on Sunday March 28, @09:15PM (#1130443)

        So a cubic foot of soil gets you about a liter of water.

        Stated another way, a cubic meter of soil gets you about 37.31662711 quarts of water.

        (large grin!)

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @05:07AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @05:07AM (#1130616)

          Liter and foot are are both regularly used in America, so it creates a nice clean metric that people can also intuitively understand the scale of.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @01:16PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @01:16PM (#1130714)

            It helps that a liter jug is about the same as a foot.

      • (Score: 2) by Beryllium Sphere (r) on Sunday March 28, @09:53PM (1 child)

        by Beryllium Sphere (r) (5062) on Sunday March 28, @09:53PM (#1130460)

        I seem to remember Steve Squyres saying that if he were on the planet he could do a rover's sol's work in 45 seconds.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @01:17PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @01:17PM (#1130715)

          If Steve Squyres were to go back in time 500 years, he would be the smartest man in the world.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Sunday March 28, @08:43PM

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Sunday March 28, @08:43PM (#1130428) Journal

      Curiosity was sped up considerably by giving it a degree of autonomy.

      The Mars Robot Making Decisions on Its Own [theatlantic.com]

      Curiosity selected rocks to zap. No human required. But the software update that allowed it to do so was made several years into the mission.

      Everything You Need to Know About NASA's Perseverance Rover Landing on Mars [ieee.org]

      Perhaps the most significant difference between the two rovers in software is that Perseverance is much more autonomous than Curiosity. It’ll be able to plan its own driving paths, traveling farther every day. We’ll be covering this in more detail in a separate post.

      How NASA Designed a Helicopter That Could Fly Autonomously on Mars [ieee.org]


      You can almost think of the helicopter like a traditional JPL spacecraft in some ways. It has a sequencing engine on board, and we write a set of sequences, a series of commands, and we upload that file to the helicopter and it executes those commands. We plan the guidance part of the flights on the ground in simulation as a series of waypoints, and those waypoints are the sequence of commands that we send to the guidance software. When we want the helicopter to fly, we tell it to go, and the guidance software takes over and executes taking off, traversing to the different waypoints, and then landing.

      This means the flights are pre-planned very specifically. It’s not true autonomy, in the sense that we don’t give it goals and rules and it’s not doing any on-board high-level reasoning. It’s sort of half-way autonomy. The brute force way would be a human sitting there and flying it around with joysticks, and obviously we can’t do that on Mars. But there wasn’t time in the project to develop really detailed autonomy on the helicopter, so we tell it the flight plan ahead of time, and it executes a trajectory that’s been pre-planned for it. As it’s flying, it’s autonomously trying to make sure it stays on that trajectory in the presence of wind gusts or other things that may happen in that environment. But it’s really designed to follow a trajectory that we plan on the ground before it flies.

      This isn’t necessarily an advanced autonomy proof of concept—something like telling it to “go take a picture of that rock” would be more advanced autonomy, in my view. Whereas, this is really a scripted flight, the primary goal is to prove that we can fly around on Mars successfully. There are future mission concepts that we’re working through now that would involve a bigger helicopter with much more autonomy on board that may be able to [achieve] that kind of advanced autonomy. But if you remember Mars Pathfinder, the very first rover that drove on Mars, it had a very basic mission: Drive in a circle around the base station and try to take some pictures and samples of some rocks. So, as a technology demo, we’re trying to be modest about what we try to do the first time with the helicopter, too.

      Better drones will be sent to Mars. But the best place to fly will be Titan [wikipedia.org]. It would be nice if we didn't have to wait until 2036 to see the first results though.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 28, @08:50PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 28, @08:50PM (#1130430)

    Ingenuity, inequity, it's all the same, right?

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by PartTimeZombie on Sunday March 28, @09:24PM (2 children)

    by PartTimeZombie (4827) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 28, @09:24PM (#1130447)

    I have a little drone at home but it cost a lot more than four pounds. I wonder what that is in dollars?
    Also, I wonder what its mass is?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 28, @09:38PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 28, @09:38PM (#1130454)

      1.8 cagey

    • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Monday March 29, @02:20PM

      by HiThere (866) on Monday March 29, @02:20PM (#1130747) Journal

      Didn't you say "a lot more than four pounds"?

      (Yeah, it's not made of silver. OK. So how many pounds per pound?)

      --
      Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 28, @10:31PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 28, @10:31PM (#1130472)

    I guess they aren't counting the Viking landers or the skycranes? They should just say the first helicopter.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anti-aristarchus on Sunday March 28, @10:51PM (1 child)

      by Anti-aristarchus (14390) on Sunday March 28, @10:51PM (#1130477) Journal

      the Viking landers or the skycrane

      Those were just falling, with style! But seriously, it is the taking-off part that is a first.

      --
      More truth to be done.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @02:20AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @02:20AM (#1130571)

        Well, what about some of the Russian probes, that threw themselves at the ground and missed? Surely that counts as flying.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 28, @11:35PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 28, @11:35PM (#1130487)

    After the tests are done Ingenuity gets abandoned like a bad droid

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @12:21AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @12:21AM (#1130510)

    Motorised vehicles have contributed to the ruination of Earth, and now we're exporting them to Mars?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @03:09AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @03:09AM (#1130585)

      Mars needs global warming.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @03:23AM (10 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @03:23AM (#1130590)

    I realize that both NASA and JPL have tremendous PR departments with bigger budgets than most laboratories, but the build up and hype for this is remarkable. It is a neat project, which they've gone out of their way to let you know they have zero requirements to declare success, and they're making it sound like this is the hardest thing that civilization has ever attempted. Have we all forgotten that on just this very mission they dropped a 1000 kg SUV-sized rover from a sky crane, all autonomously, and now flying a toy helicopter is the most amazing thing ever attempted by mankind? I'm WAY more impressed with the sky crane.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by khallow on Monday March 29, @05:52AM (9 children)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 29, @05:52AM (#1130629) Journal
      Keep in mind that the plane is flying in atmosphere that never gets higher pressure than about 1% of an Atmosphere, which is equivalent crudely to 100k feet at Earth. The manned, air breathing (that is, an aircraft that isn't propelled by rocket, which doesn't require atmosphere) aircraft altitude record on Earth is a bit over 120k feet [wikipedia.org]. Helicopters barely broke 40k feet.

      There are a couple of factors that work in favor of the vehicle - gravity is a third of Earths, and a CO2 atmosphere is significantly denser than the corresponding pressure nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere of Earth.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @06:45AM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @06:45AM (#1130645)

        I think you meant to say "denser at the same pressure", but otherwise spot on.

        • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @07:46AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @07:46AM (#1130665)

          I just love it when khallow attempts to do science! It smells like, . . . , well it just smells.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 30, @04:50AM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30, @04:50AM (#1131076) Journal
            Was there something wrong with my science? "and a CO2 atmosphere is significantly denser than the corresponding pressure nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere of Earth" is a little clunky writing-wise, but factually correct.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @12:13PM (5 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @12:13PM (#1130692)

        I understand all of that. I would hope that on this program they would have done some vacuum chamber testing to validate their computer modeling. I'm not saying that this is a trivial thing to do, I'm just saying that it is very over hyped, in my opinion. They know all the important principles to adapt a design. I'd be more impressed if they could do this on a planet like Mercury. Not THAT would be incredible!

        I would also take issue with the article suggesting that this is much harder than what the Wright Bros. did by saying that it took mankind thousands of years to finally get airborne and these guys have to do the same thing from scratch in just a few years. I won't bother going into the reasons why this is an asinine comment, but I would point out that the Wright Bros. had to figure the practical principles of aerodynamics out as they were going, AND they also put their own butts in the seat to try them out.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @01:30PM (3 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, @01:30PM (#1130719)

          A little perspective on overnight success... and a reminder how hard it is to really do something.

          1709 – Model glider design

          Bartolomeu Laurenço de Gusmao designs a model glider.

          1783 – Hot air balloon flight

          The first untethered manned hot air balloon flight was on 21 November 1783 in Paris, France in a balloon created by the Montgolfier brothers.

          1843 – Biplane design

          George Cayley’s biplane design is published.

          1895 – Biplane gliders

          Otto Lilienthal flies biplane gliders.

          1903 – First powered flight

          Orville and Wilbur Wright make the first recorded powered, sustained and controlled flight in a heavier-than-air flying machine.

          • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Monday March 29, @02:24PM (1 child)

            by HiThere (866) on Monday March 29, @02:24PM (#1130752) Journal

            I'm not sure the hot air balloons fit into the sequence. And you left out all the designs that didn't work at all, going back before Leonardo da Vinci. Daedalus fits in there somewhere.

            --
            Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
          • (Score: 2) by Tork on Monday March 29, @04:03PM

            by Tork (3914) on Monday March 29, @04:03PM (#1130789)
            1899 - First Combat Use
            Arthur Morgan and Sadie Adler successfully used a hot air balloon to break the notorious John Marston out of Sisika Penitentiary.
            --
            Slashdolt Logic: "23 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 30, @05:07AM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30, @05:07AM (#1131077) Journal

          I'd be more impressed if they could do this on a planet like Mercury. Not THAT would be incredible!

          You would get your helicopter to fly by using rockets. Remember, Mercury doesn't have a buoyant atmosphere in which a helicopter can fly. Mars barely does, only during the summer at low altitude.

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