Join 3,422 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Send Your Name For Great Victory Against The Red Planet
April 6, 2011 8:09 PM   Subscribe

Scheduled for November 25th, the Mars Science Laboratory - Curiosity Rover will launch on an 8.5 month journey to Mars. Upon arrival, it will plummet through the atmosphere in a flying-saucer-like aeroshell and execute a most unusual landing via skycrane. Curiosity carries a dizzying array of cameras and sensors, but more importantly a high powered laser to teach Mars who is boss, and oh, maybe your name if you let it.
posted by pashdown (21 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I can't let any Mars Rover post go by without including this obligatory poem from John Updike.
posted by hippybear at 8:14 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn't expect to see Iran so high up on the list of countries participating. It's outregistered most of Western Europe.
posted by MimeticHaHa at 8:16 PM on April 6, 2011


I think they should have sent two, so you can do races.
posted by joannemullen at 8:17 PM on April 6, 2011


Curiosity has already been "cursed" with problems. They should have called it Succor for a "success"-ful mission, or something. These things matter for some reason.
posted by stbalbach at 8:22 PM on April 6, 2011


I wonder if they're going to cull through the microchip names for joke names?
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:24 PM on April 6, 2011


I'd enter "The Doctor" but that would ultimately doom the mission.
posted by greenland at 9:28 PM on April 6, 2011


This seems almost too complicated to work well....IANANASAE though. I wish them luck in landing.
posted by dibblda at 9:49 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


When my planetary-scientist friend described the winch to me, I didn't believe her.

When I laughingly described it to my advisor, he sort of shrugged and said, "You wouldn't have put money on the bouncing idea either." He has a point.
posted by you're a kitty! at 10:20 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


5m30s animation video depicting the Mars Rover mission and how it should work.
posted by hippybear at 10:35 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can someone explain to me the motivation for the skycrane? It seems … needlessly elaborate to me. (Nifty, but needlessly elaborate.)
posted by hattifattener at 10:38 PM on April 6, 2011


I Am Not A Rocket Scientist, but I do watch a lot of NASA videos...

I think the point of the skycrane is, in part, to help develop alternate methods of landing on a hard planet surface. For Opportunity and Spirit, they used bouncy airbags, which worked just fine but didn't allow for very precise choice of landing spot. On Earth, there are oceans for things to fall into. But on Mars, if you want to do a remote landing on a hard surface, you don't have a lot of choices about how to slow down something enough to have it survive the landing.

If they build the thrusters and fuel systems into the rover itself, the device is crippled by having all this extra cruft built on which it doesn't need after it lands. So logically they want to detach the thrusters and fuel required to finish slowing the rover from interplanetary speeds to a soft landing. But how do you do that, exactly?

I can't find any of the videos right now, but about a year ago I saw a whole string of videos where they were testing the sky crane device itself. I mean, actually dropping the thruster/fuel module out of balloons or helicopters or something and having it slow to a standstill hovering in the air and then lowering weight to the ground beneath it. Watching those videos was really like seeing something from a science fiction film. It just looked so... high tech.

Anyway, I'll keep looking for those videos. I'm sure someone else here is more attached to actual science / NASA stuff than I am. But that's the reasoning as far as I understand it.
posted by hippybear at 10:47 PM on April 6, 2011


Curiosity has its own twitter account.
posted by hippybear at 11:03 PM on April 6, 2011


a high powered laser to teach Mars who is boss

Horsell Common shall be avenged!
posted by Major Clanger at 11:52 PM on April 6, 2011


Oh, when I saw that Curiosity might teach Mars a lesson, and your name, I thought "Are they going to tag Mars?"

Thanks for the twitter acct, hippybear.
posted by Lukenlogs at 12:12 AM on April 7, 2011


There's also a live ustream feed from JPL of the high bay where Curiosity/MSL is being assembled and tested.

If you'd like to ask questions there will be a live chat on Thursday morning 10-11am Pacific.
posted by brism at 12:34 AM on April 7, 2011


For Opportunity and Spirit, they used bouncy airbags, which worked just fine but didn't allow for very precise choice of landing spot

Indeed. Opportunity landed in a small crater - much deeper, and the rover wouldn't have roved. (err...) The Skycrane lets them put it down in a very specific spot, the airbags mean rolling a big die and hoping you don't roll a one.

Worse, when you look at how it folds up, you realize you're rolling 1d4. (kidding....)
posted by eriko at 2:55 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Awesome, awesome endeavor. A bitchin' Camaro on Mars! I hope it works. But couldn't they have at least sprung for a microphone, finally?
posted by steef at 5:33 AM on April 7, 2011


Aeroshell? That thing is a flying saucer! C'mon, Lockheed, where's your sense of humor?
posted by Quietgal at 9:26 AM on April 7, 2011


I submitted IRFACE so that when the moon and Mars are aligned just right...
posted by Spatch at 12:49 AM on April 8, 2011


MimeticHaHa: I didn't expect to see Iran so high up on the list of countries participating. It's outregistered most of Western Europe.

Despite the politics of its government, Iran has a very well-educated and and active science community. I remember talking to a Nobel laureate (Burton Richter, I think) a few weeks after he took a trip there for science outreach with one of the universities in Tehran, and he said that the professors and students there were doing scientific research on par with any western university.
posted by thebestsophist at 8:32 PM on April 22, 2011


We are the Aliens
posted by jpdoane at 9:21 PM on April 22, 2011


« Older 1-3 percent of the population may be natural "shor...  |  "[T]he real target of Western ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments