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Mars Exploration Rover Spirit lands on Mars
January 7, 2004 7:58 AM   Subscribe

We landed on Mars. The Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has captured its first color image of Mars. It is the highest resolution picture ever taken of another planet. Fascinating.
posted by mad (27 comments total)

 
The rover had to break through the martian atmosphere, deploy a parachute, stabilize with rockets, inflate impact absorbing balls and inner bladder, crash land, and then emerge from its cacoon to contact earth via solar power. Hats off to the JPL and NASA.

It landed in Gusev crater, believed to have held water at one time. We'll learn a lot more in the next few weeks when it leaves it's landing pad and starts navigating the crater.
posted by mad at 8:32 AM on January 7, 2004


An obvious fake.
posted by Fupped Duck at 8:36 AM on January 7, 2004


Yeah. If it was real, that 'Tourist Guy' from the World Trade Center probably would be standing somewhere in the picture.
posted by LeLiLo at 8:59 AM on January 7, 2004


Indeed a very interesting expedition and the other twin is hopefully landing in a couple weeks. Too bad for Beagle, it appears that it may have landed into a one km crater. Well even one out of three (so far) is a good ratio, considering the target.

on preview: fake as britney spears boob and marriage or fake as Fauxnews ?
posted by elpapacito at 9:01 AM on January 7, 2004


The accumulation of martian dust on the solar panels is expected to put Spirit out of business in about 90 (martian) days. It is said that this limits the rover to the ability to do, in 90 days, what a live geologist could do in about 90 minutes.

Do we have MeFi aerospace expert who can explain why, since the dust accumulation was expected, the rover was not equipped with a brush or blower to keep the panels clear and allow longer operation?
posted by beagle at 9:01 AM on January 7, 2004


It landed in Gusev crater, believed to have held water at one time.

In that case I would expect the rocks to be more polished. Right now all that we can see is some wind polishing. Image walking or using tires on this kind of surface.
posted by MzB at 9:18 AM on January 7, 2004


Oh, yeah, totally worth half a billion dollars.

"Look! It's red! And barren! What a breakthrough."

And don't tell me about hindsight. We all knew this is the way it would look.
posted by jon_kill at 9:18 AM on January 7, 2004


I believe that the point of the mission is to find out what's under the surface, my friend.
posted by BobFrapples at 9:21 AM on January 7, 2004


The only dust brushes they could find were metric, and they'd already done the whole thing imperial...
posted by greensweater at 9:36 AM on January 7, 2004


You mean, I posted that color picture in the wrong thread?
posted by y2karl at 9:43 AM on January 7, 2004


I wonder why we can't seem to get back to the moon, but we can go to Mars every five minutes. Is there something up there that we shouldn't know about?
posted by internook at 9:51 AM on January 7, 2004


You're kidding, right?
posted by adamgreenfield at 10:03 AM on January 7, 2004


Er... yeah jon_kill. Actually, the pretty pictures are primarily to keep tax payers "fascinated" so NASA's funding will continue. The pages on mission science and the other onboard instruments will fill you in on the real point of all this.

internook - The ESA is now reconsidering their goal of doing a manned Mars mission by 2025 and perhaps doing a lunar mission instead. I think the Chinese are interested in doing moon missions as well. As far as NASA is concerned, the moon is kind of "done", at least until we're ready to seriously consider habitation, resource exploitation, or a telescope on the dark side.
posted by badstone at 10:06 AM on January 7, 2004


kidding about this being FPP-worthy? Maybe some people are slow to catch up on their news after the long holiday...
posted by badstone at 10:07 AM on January 7, 2004


Actually, "we" didn't land on Mars. Our robot landed on it. I only feel like clarifying because with the coming of each new year I get steadily more and more disappointed with the Future that I'm in. Human beings are still stuck on Earth, dammit, without so much as a flying car for consolation. Sigh.
posted by kevspace at 10:43 AM on January 7, 2004


As much as I love NASA and am excited about space exploration, I wouldn't be too thrilled about their budget getting much bigger before we solve some more important problems down here on the surface. Robotic landers are a great compromise and through them we can achieve our science goals much more quickly and efficiently then we could if we had to accomodate a living human along for the ride. Let's wait for everybody to be fed and disease-free on Earth before we move on to other planets. We have a whole lot of fundamenetal research to do on new propulsion systems before manned spaceflight goes much further, anyway, so the time is not being wasted.
posted by badstone at 10:59 AM on January 7, 2004


Badstone: The only thing worse than a reformed drunk is a NASA apologist.
posted by jon_kill at 11:03 AM on January 7, 2004


I wouldn't be too thrilled about their budget getting much bigger before we solve some more important problems down here on the surface.

People have been saying that since NASA's inception. No money is being diverted to NASA that would otherwise be used to feed people. The United States is a very rich country, and NASA's budget (even if it increased ten-fold) is very small.

I don't think manned missions to Mars should be our nation's top priority, but accepting a sluggish space program because we have problems here on earth is misguided.
posted by jpoulos at 11:07 AM on January 7, 2004


Oh, yeah, totally worth half a billion dollars.

The only thing worse than a reformed drunk is a NASA apologist.

Did an astronaut kill your dad, or something?
posted by jpoulos at 11:09 AM on January 7, 2004


other than the manned part, which we agree is a waste of time and money no matter what right now, what about the space progam do you find sluggish? what science are we failing to do?
posted by badstone at 11:49 AM on January 7, 2004


"Did an astronaut kill your dad, or something?"

Worse. An astronaut reformed his drunken dad.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:53 AM on January 7, 2004


PS - NASA's "tiny" budget is nearly 1/3 the size of the education budget.
posted by badstone at 11:54 AM on January 7, 2004


Is that the Federal Education budget or all state/county/federal education budgets combined? I'm canadian and not really sure how education funding works down there but isn't education mostly a state resposibilty paid by property taxes? And a portion of NASA funding is education funding as they support research at universities.
posted by Mitheral at 12:55 PM on January 7, 2004


There have been less than half a dozen explorations of the deep ocean floors - I think we need to spend less resources on exploring barren rocks in the sky and more on exploring the almost 70% of our own planet's (sub-liquid) surface that we know next-to-nothing about.
posted by meehawl at 2:14 PM on January 7, 2004


Orbiter Photographs Viking 1 and Pathfinder Landers on Mars' Surface
posted by homunculus at 9:34 PM on January 7, 2004


Two words for ya:

Capricorn.

One.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 1:02 AM on January 8, 2004


As in Capricorn One, can we try sending OJ to Mars, but for real?
posted by cnx at 1:30 AM on January 9, 2004


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