Mars Phoenix Landing
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    Registered User Exalted Member Fireand'chutes77's Avatar
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    Mars Phoenix Landing

    I don't know how many people have been tracking this, but the Mars Phoenix lander is set to touch down on the Martian surface little more than 20 hours from now. Aimed toward the frozen north pole, if successful the lander will scratch into the ice and soil and try to test for life using an onboard laboratory, much like the Viking landers.

    The nail-biting factor: it will be the first landing since the Viking missions in the 1970's to use powered thrusters to settle down onto the surface. All of the programming and sensors and specific timing mechanisms must work perfectly, or we'll wind up with a billion-dollar crater.... again. Mission planners are calling the final moments of descent into the atmosphere "seven minutes of terror."

    I have my empathy for them - although the autonomous mode in our F.I.R.S.T. robotics competitions lasts only 30 seconds, we're still leaving nail-marks in our cheeks while pleading, "Work, baby, work...!" I have some inking of what they're going through.

    http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/
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    Administrator Honored Elder jeriddian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fireand'chutes77 View Post
    I don't know how many people have been tracking this, but the Mars Phoenix lander is set to touch down on the Martian surface little more than 20 hours from now. Aimed toward the frozen north pole, if successful the lander will scratch into the ice and soil and try to test for life using an onboard laboratory, much like the Viking landers.

    The nail-biting factor: it will be the first landing since the Viking missions in the 1970's to use powered thrusters to settle down onto the surface. All of the programming and sensors and specific timing mechanisms must work perfectly, or we'll wind up with a billion-dollar crater.... again. Mission planners are calling the final moments of descent into the atmosphere "seven minutes of terror."

    I have my empathy for them - although the autonomous mode in our F.I.R.S.T. robotics competitions lasts only 30 seconds, we're still leaving nail-marks in our cheeks while pleading, "Work, baby, work...!" I have some inking of what they're going through.

    http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/
    Hopefully they'll realize and repeat the success of the Mars Rovers. It will be an awesome achievement for sure.
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    Registered User Exalted Member Fireand'chutes77's Avatar
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    20 minutes to touchdown! I'm watching a live feed of NASA's JPL mission control.

    Yaaaaaa! Fingers crossed, here we go! (Hope this works!)



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    TOUCHDOWN!!! Booyaaahhhhhh!!!
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    Registered User Exalted Member Fireand'chutes77's Avatar
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    Speaking of Mars, I've got a few questions for a NASA grant program that I've come up with, and I'm wondering about your take on them (*cough*Lunchmeat*cough*):


    Question #1- Geology – how can we make the water on Mars useful? If we put a pressurized “dome” over a prospective spot, increase the atmospheres inside the dome, and then melt the ice, will it stay liquid?

    Question #2 – Climate – how damaging are Mars’s dust storms? They can be huge, and spawn dust devils, but with such a thin atmosphere, how powerful can they get?

    Question #3 – what would the protocols be if we found life of some sort?
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    Administrator Honored Elder jeriddian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fireand'chutes77 View Post
    20 minutes to touchdown! I'm watching a live feed of NASA's JPL mission control.

    Yaaaaaa! Fingers crossed, here we go! (Hope this works!)



    -----------



    TOUCHDOWN!!! Booyaaahhhhhh!!!
    Cool! You know it kind of reminds me of when I stayed up 7/20/1969 to watch the Eagle land and see Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. I was 14 years old and it was about 2:30 in the morning. The whole family (and everyone else in America I think) stayed up to watch that on television. Good times.......Good times..........
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    Registered User Exalted Member Fireand'chutes77's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeriddian View Post
    Cool! You know it kind of reminds me of when I stayed up 7/20/1969 to watch the Eagle land and see Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. I was 14 years old and it was about 2:30 in the morning. The whole family (and everyone else in America I think) stayed up to watch that on television. Good times.......Good times..........
    Funny, I didn't know it took place at night. I guess if you weren't there, you tend to picture these things happening during the day (but then, everyone likes to picture everything happening during the day).

    EDIT: Odd, it didn't sink in until just now - We've got a human-made robot operating on Mars. So far away it takes 15 minutes to get there at the speed of light. As I sit in this computer chair, we've got a piece of machinery sitting on the surface, cheerfully humming to itself, activating solar panels and running its sensors. The robot and its computers did the entire thing, from atmospheric entry to touchdown - and all the people back at JPL (is that you, Mr. Dr. P.?) were just along for the ride.... Wow......
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    Registered User Exalted Member lunchmeat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fireand'chutes77 View Post
    Speaking of Mars, I've got a few questions for a NASA grant program that I've come up with, and I'm wondering about your take on them (*cough*Lunchmeat*cough*):


    Question #1- Geology – how can we make the water on Mars useful? If we put a pressurized “dome” over a prospective spot, increase the atmospheres inside the dome, and then melt the ice, will it stay liquid?

    Question #2 – Climate – how damaging are Mars’s dust storms? They can be huge, and spawn dust devils, but with such a thin atmosphere, how powerful can they get?

    Question #3 – what would the protocols be if we found life of some sort?

    1: Depends on how much of it there is, which is part of what this probe is suppossed to find out. I suspect we'll find at least enough to support research colonies. Whether there is enough to support permanant residents remains to be seen. I remain firmly hopeful, if there isn't a lot on Mars, itself, there is the potential to mine comets for it.

    2: Potentially pretty rough, however, that is a surmountable engineering problem. On the plus side robust systems such as sevonius rotors could harvest the energy in them through electrical generation.

    3: We'd have to culture it to find out what it's nature is, then conduct biochemical analysis to determine if it has DNA sequences such as we are familiar with and start figuring out how it functions and determine what commonality it has with life as we know it. This would probably be conducted under isolation conditions or by additional robotic probes. Isolation facilities would probably be established either in orbit, here or around Mars, or on the moon. If the life forms were determined to be non-threatening surface surveys would then be conducted to determine how extensive it's geographic distribution was and start cataloging it's forms. I expect NASA's budget would increase rather dramatically.
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    Registered User Exalted Member Fireand'chutes77's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lunchmeat View Post
    ....robust systems such as sevonius rotors could harvest the energy in them through electrical generation.
    What are those?

    I expect NASA's budget would increase rather dramatically.
    Indeed.
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  9. #9
    Registered User Exalted Member lunchmeat's Avatar
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    Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto - “You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind each blade of grass.”

  10. #10
    Moderator Venerated Elder TransWarpDrive's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fireand'chutes77 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by jeriddian View Post
    Cool! You know it kind of reminds me of when I stayed up 7/20/1969 to watch the Eagle land and see Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. I was 14 years old and it was about 2:30 in the morning. The whole family (and everyone else in America I think) stayed up to watch that on television. Good times.......Good times..........
    Funny, I didn't know it took place at night. I guess if you weren't there, you tend to picture these things happening during the day (but then, everyone likes to picture everything happening during the day).
    Well, actually, the lunar module "Eagle" touched down on the moon at about quarter after three (CDT) in the afternoon, give or take a few minutes. I remember that because it was a bright, sunny day in Chicago, and after they landed I borrowed my dad's binoculars and went outside to see if I could spot the command module orbiting the moon, which was high in the afternoon sky (I couldn't see it, of course... :P).
    The astronauts were originally scheduled to take a four-hour rest period after landing, then proceed with the moonwalk. But Armstrong and Aldrin chose to eat a quick dinner after which they began putting on their backpacks, helmets, gloves and overshoes. Mission Control agreed with their change of plans, and so Neil Armstrong took that first step on the moon at 9:56 PM CDT.
    The reason so much time elapsed between their landing and the moonwalk was they first had to prep the LM for immediate takeoff in case some emergency arose requiring them to do so. Then after dinner, the astronauts helped each other on with their lunar exploration gear. That was time-consuming because: A) they had to make sure their helmets, gloves and oxygen hoses were properly connected and sealed; and B) they were working in a small cabin which was roughly the size of two telephone booths set side by side. They had to move carefully to avoid damaging either their spacecraft or their spacesuits.
    Had they taken the rest period as originally scheduled, they probably wouldn't have gotten outside the LM until after 1 in the morning, Central time.

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