mars navigation history
January 4, 2004 4:07 PM   Subscribe

The most accurate navigation in history. "We had to know everything from how the iron molten lava in the center of the Earth was churning to how plate tectonic movements were affecting the wobble of the Earth to how the plasma in the atmosphere delayed the radio signals to and from the Deep Space Network stations". ..even the seemingly insignificant solar radiation pressure and thermal radiation forces acting on the spacecraft to a level equal to less than a billionth of the acceleration of gravity one feels on the Earth needed to be taken into account. This mission set a new standard for navigation accuracy for all future interplanetary missions.
posted by stbalbach (2 comments total)
...and look where they landed: on a big, flat, empty plain covered with sand and rocks. Here, they will discover no signs of life, and probably verify one or two obvious geological conclusions already arrived at on earth. It will cost our broke government hundreds of millions of dollars. I admire the perfection of that navigation, but it's ultimately a sterile achievement -- as sterile as that dead, lifeless Martian soil.
posted by Faze at 7:50 AM on January 5, 2004

Not according to the Nova program broadcast last night. This was the scientists' #1 site, and the engineers sweat blood to get them there, in the sediments at the bottom of an ancient lake, or so they suspect. Maybe we should just move New York there, safe from wandering bombs? Or maybe give the scientists a chance, before we start second-guessing them.
posted by anewc2 at 2:27 PM on January 5, 2004

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