I totally expect to see a Metafilter window on one of those screens.
All the engineers and everybody else at NASA in Houston were working hard at recovering the moonshot, and they were in real trouble, weren't sure they could get it back. They got a phone call from a grad student at MIT who said he knew how to get them back. They put engineers on it, tested it out, by God it worked. Slingshotting them around the moon. They successfully did. They wanted to present the grad student to the President and the public, but they found him and he was a real hippy type - long hair and facial hair. NASA was straight-laced, and this was different than they expected, so they withdrew the invitation to the student. I think that is a disgrace.
his mission is meant to find out whether there's ever been any kind of life on Mars and whether there's any way Mars could support human life long enough for a manned mission there.
I love the robots,
I love the Martian skies,
I love the techies
Who helped the Rover fly,
I love the peanuts
You eat when things go right,
Boom-de-yada, boom-de-yada, boom-de-yada, boom-de-yada…
For example, updates to NASA Policy Directive 2540.1 included replacing the word "teletypes" with "Facebook." That change, combined with other modifications, resulted in the current NPD 2540.1G revision that allows the use of government equipment to go to sites like Twitter and Facebook, as long as it isn't impacting your work duties.
Beautiful HiRISE image of MSL on the parachute! Public will get to see it in the morning.
Yes, it will available at the morning NASA press conference.
Steltzner's path to becoming team leader for this new Mars lander was hardly direct. Unlike many successful engineers, he struggled at school. An elementary school principal told him he wasn't very bright. His high school experience seemed to confirm that.
"I passed my geometry class the second time with an F plus, because the teacher just didn't want to see me again," he says.
His father told him he'd never amount to anything but a ditch digger, a remark he still carries with him years later.
Maybe that's because school wasn't a priority, particularly with the distractions of the flower-power era in the Bay Area.
"I was sort of studying sex, drugs and rock and roll in high school," says Steltzner. It wasn't just the long hair. "I liked to wear this strange Air Force jump suit. And my first car was a '69 Cadillac hearse. I put a bed in the back."
Talk about a night to remember. "Well, I was younger. It was a different time," says Steltzner.
After high school, the plan was to be a rock star. While he waited for stardom, Steltzner played bass guitar in Bay Area bands, watching his friends graduate and go off to college.
But then something happened. As Steltzner tells it, he was on his way home from playing music at a club one night when he became fascinated with the stars, especially the constellation of Orion.
"The fact that it was in a different place in the sky at night when I returned home from playing a gig, than it had been when I'd driven out to the gig," he said. "And I had only some vague recollection from my high school time that something was moving with respect to something else, but that was it."
As crazy as it sounds, that experience was enough to motivate him to take a physics course at the local community college. That did it. He was hooked.
The fog of sex, drugs, and rock and roll lifted. He had to know all about the laws that govern the universe. The rocker wound up with a doctoral degree in engineering physics.
Now that the image has leaked out, we can post it too... MRO captures #MSL pic.twitter.com/zK7iTCjX
Rumor is grocery stores in the vicinity of JPL were selling out of peanuts today. But don't call us superstitious :)
No, we want to see the wheel on the ground, because this isn't a moment for science, it's a moment for engineering. When you see that wheel on the ground, you know you've landed on Mars. No semaphore tones, no people jumping up and down, you actually see a picture of the surface of the planet with a spacecraft on it. And that is the miracle of engineering.
"What we need is a roving vehicle with advanced experiments in biology and organic chemistry able to land in the safe but dull places and wander to the interesting places. ... Imagine a rover with laser eyes like this one but packed with sophisticated biological and chemical instruments, sampler arms, microscopes, and television cameras wandering over the Martian landscape. It could drive to its own horizon every day. A distant feature it barely resolves at sunrise it can be sniffing and tasting by nightfall. Billions of people could watch the unfolding adventure on their TV sets as the rover explores the ancient river bottoms or cautiously approaches the enigmatic pyramids of Elysium. A new age of discovery would have begun."
—Carl Sagan. Cosmos, Episode 5. "Blues For A Red Planet."
When the abort switch aboard the Apollo 14 Lunar Module Antares jammed, preventing descent to the moon’s surface, Eyles wrote a software patch instructing the onboard computer to ignore the spurious abort signal. He completed the task in 2 hours and the code was read out loud to Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who keyed it into the computer.
Apollo 14 brought the author a brief notoriety. The abort switch on the instrument panel was sending a spurious signal that could have spoiled Alan Shepard and Ed Mitchell's landing. I had written the code that monitored this discrete. The workaround simply changed a few registers, first to fool the abort monitor into thinking that an abort was already in progress, and then to clean up afterward so that the landing could continue unaffected. The procedure radioed up and flawlessly executed by the astronauts involved 61 DSKY keystrokes.
Every couple of centuries we have to expand our concept of what "the world" consists of. Today seems like a perfect day to add Mars.
While the rover landing was amazing, it was also flat out adorable. Below, we’ve picked out some of our favorite small moments from the evening.
You're serious? You're not making a joke about that? Within 15 minutes of going from 10,000 mph to the surface of Mars, a picture is sent over 100 million miles, right to your computer, and you're dissatisfied with the resolution? This isn't a joke on your part?
We are so fucked as a species.
LUMINARY was never completely bug free. Allan told me about a fascinating series of events that could have easily prevented the first moon landing and might have caused disaster…
Navigation camera pictures are expected to begin arriving on Earth about three days after landing if the mast is deployed on schedule. ... Also, about three days after landing, the narrower field-of-view Mast Cameras (Mastcams) are expected to start snapping their first shots.
At the heart of Curiosity there is, of course, a computer. In this case the Mars rover is powered by a RAD750, a single-board computer (motherboard, RAM, ROM, and CPU) produced by BAE. The RAD750 has been on the market for more than 10 years, and it’s currently one of the most popular on-board computers for spacecraft. In Curiosity’s case, the CPU is a PowerPC 750 (PowerPC G3 in Mac nomenclature) clocked at around 200MHz — which might seem slow, but it’s still hundreds of times faster than, say, the Apollo Guidance Computer used in the first Moon landings. Also on the motherboard are 256MB of DRAM, and 2GB of flash storage — which will be used to store video and scientific data before transmission to Earth.
On the software side of things, NASA again stuck to tried-and-tested solutions, opting for the 27-year-old VxWorks operating system. VxWorks, developed by Wind River Systems (which was acquired by Intel), is a real-time operating system used in a huge number of embedded systems. The previous Mars rovers (Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity), Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft all use VxWorks. VxWorks also powers BMW iDrive, the Apache Longbow helicopter, and the Apple Airport Extreme and Linksys WRT54G routers (really).
In its final seconds, Curiosity would require a correction of less than 10 feet, startling accuracy after a journey of 352 million miles. Curiosity also "knew" its velocity to within three feet per second.
Twenty-four seconds later, Curiosity released its heat shield. This was critical; the heat shield had been acting like a lens cap on a camera, blocking Curiosity's radar from seeing the ground to pinpoint its landing. With the radar on, scientists would now know in seconds whether the spacecraft was where it "thought" it was based on a course calculation that had begun with a relatively rudimentary alignment of the sun and stars.
Miguel San Martin, the chief engineer of Curiosity's guidance and control, glanced at his screen to see the results, and was dumbfounded. In its final seconds, Curiosity would require a correction of less than 10 feet, startling accuracy after a journey of 352 million miles. Curiosity also "knew" its velocity to within three feet per second.
This picture of Mars cost many times the cost of a Van Gogh or Rembrandt...and you paid for it... pic.twitter.com/jDnVJ4wZ
And ours may be headed the same way.
The colors in the main image are unmodified from those returned by the camera. While it is difficult to say whether this is what a human eye would see, it is what a cell phone or camcorder would record since the Mastcam takes color pictures in the exact same manner that consumer cameras acquire color images. The colors in a second version linked to the main image have been modified as if the scene were transported to Earth and illuminated by terrestrial sunlight. This processing, called "white balancing," is useful for scientists to be able to recognize and distinguish rocks by color in more familiar lighting.
The most agreed upon theory today is that Valles Marineris was formed by rift faults like the East African Rift, later made bigger by erosion and collapsing of the rift walls.
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