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NASA's Mars Orbiter Reaches Data Milestone

Unknown Lamer posted 1 year,11 days | from the two-hundred-treelion-bits dept.

Mars 68

Nerval's Lobster writes "NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has sent 200 terabits of scientific data all the way back to Earth over the past seven years. That data largely comes from six instruments aboard the craft, and doesn't include the information used to manage the equipment's health. That 200-terabit milestone also surpasses the ten years' worth of data returned via NASA's Deep Space Network from all other missions managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. 'The sheer volume is impressive, but of course what's most important is what we are learning about our neighboring planet,' JPL's Rich Zurek, the project scientist for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, wrote in a statement. It takes roughly two hours for the craft to orbit Mars, recording voluminous amounts of data on everything from the atmosphere to the subsurface. Thanks to its instruments, we know that Mars is a dynamic environment, once home to water. 'Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has shown that Mars is still an active planet, with changes such as new craters, avalanches and dust storms,' Zurek added. 'Mars is a partially frozen world, but not frozen in time.' While the Orbiter's two-year 'primary science phase' ended in 2008, NASA has granted the hardware three additional extensions, each of which has resulted in additional insight into the Red Planet's secrets."

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That's 25 terabytes (3, Informative)

Press2ToContinue (2424598) | 1 year,11 days | (#45397151)

Did the math for the mathally-challenged.

You're welcome.

Re:That's 25 terabytes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45397179)

The success of the mission should not be measured by the volume of output. If that were the case, Obamacare would be a resounding success.

Re:That's 25 terabytes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45397707)

"My plan is to sit down with the Democrats--the ones in the middle of the debate--and ask them... I want to ask them, "What do you fellows think of the scientific butter that awards crack-addicted babies with even more?" We need to compromise. We need to understand one another. I believe questions like that will further our goals and put us on the road to better representation of the American people."

Re:That's 25 terabytes (4, Funny)

radiumsoup (741987) | 1 year,11 days | (#45397193)

That's 12,857,426 double-density 3.5" floppies, or 73,336 years' worth of free AOL

Re:That's 25 terabytes (1)

roc97007 (608802) | 1 year,11 days | (#45397269)

139 nine-track tapes.

84 CDC 9766 disk packs.

122.3 service calls to the Skydrive helpdesk in Gurgaon.

Re:That's 25 terabytes (4, Funny)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | 1 year,11 days | (#45397863)

How many Library's of Congress is that?

Re:That's 25 terabytes (1)

BranMan (29917) | 1 year,10 days | (#45405109)

From the best estimate I've seen, about 1/10th of a Library of Congress

No one uses double density 3.5" anymore (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | 1 year,10 days | (#45403063)

You have to do the numbers in high density 3.5" (1.44MB formatted) ... so 18,222,223 disks for 25TB.

And I have no idea how you got 12.8 million (DD = 800kB or 720kB depending on formatting). Your numbers suggest 2.038MB per floppy ... some HD 3.5" were marketed as "2MB" but that was *unformatted*. And the rounding error is likely from 1024 vs. 1000 multiples between kB/MB/GB/TB.

Re:That's 25 terabytes (1)

Hobadee (787558) | 1 year,10 days | (#45403759)

I don't understand these "bits" you talk about... how many punch cards is that?

Re:That's 25 terabytes (1)

roc97007 (608802) | 1 year,11 days | (#45397213)

...or a little over 22 terabytes with one parity bit...

Re:That's 25 terabytes (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45397251)

Which also comes out to around 1 Mbps of continuous data transfer over those 7 years. Not bad for communication from earth to mars.

Re:That's 25 terabytes (1)

ledow (319597) | 1 year,11 days | (#45397355)

Hell, that's better than some outlying regions of Scotland have got for their "broadband" Internet connections.

Re:That's 25 terabytes (4, Funny)

MightyYar (622222) | 1 year,11 days | (#45397455)

Well, sure, but NASA uses station wagons full of tapes hurtling through space.

Re:That's 25 terabytes (1)

Provocateur (133110) | 1 year,11 days | (#45397475)

Wait till they get fiber

Re:That's 25 terabytes (2)

davester666 (731373) | 1 year,11 days | (#45398029)

Yes, Verizon will make a killing on penalty fee's for the Rover going over the data cap limit.

Re:That's 25 terabytes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45401033)

Yes, Verizon will make a killing on penalty fee's

Shouldn't you be stocking those veggies? [wikipedia.org] Get your GED, kid.

Re:That's 25 terabytes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45397795)

It's sad that NASA has more bandwidth from Mars than Comcast can get to my neighborhood for days after it rains.

Re:That's 25 terabytes (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45397279)

What if it's on one of those old-ass mainframes with 6-bit bytes? What if it's encoded as if it's being transmitted over an analog modem (which it might very well be encoded that way)? That uses 10-bit bytes.

WHERE IS YOUR MATH GOD NOW?

Each human sperm holds the equivalent of 37.5mb... (5, Funny)

Press2ToContinue (2424598) | 1 year,11 days | (#45397411)

and one average ejaculation represents 15.8tb of information. By those standards, the ability to call it a success was a long time coming.

Re:Each human sperm holds the equivalent of 37.5mb (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45397523)

and one average ejaculation represents 15.8tb of information. By those standards, the ability to call it a success was a long time coming.

People PLEASE mod this up. It's too brilliant not to do so.

Re:Each human sperm holds the equivalent of 37.5mb (2)

sconeu (64226) | 1 year,11 days | (#45397643)

Every sperm is sacred
Every sperm is good
Every sperm is needed
In your neighborhood.

Re:Each human sperm holds the equivalent of 37.5mb (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45397799)

but sneakernet does not count.

Re:Each human sperm holds the equivalent of 37.5mb (1)

enoz (1181117) | 1 year,11 days | (#45397897)

I was about to pen a witty reply when I realised the Internet [reddit.com] had already delivered.

Re:Each human sperm holds the equivalent of 37.5mb (1)

someone1234 (830754) | 1 year,10 days | (#45398265)

Tell me when you hit Mars with your handjob.

Re:Each human sperm holds the equivalent of 37.5mb (2)

delt0r (999393) | 1 year,10 days | (#45398893)

Mass duplication of data doesn't count. If you used a compression method on that ejected DNA you would find that is probably not even 10-20Gbyte of data.

Re:That's 25 terabytes (1)

RoboJ1M (992925) | 1 year,10 days | (#45401005)

Yes, but that's just the marketing numbers by the manufacturer.
You'll only *really* get 22 TiB 755 GiB 65 MiB 932 KiB

I'm disappointed (2)

deodiaus2 (980169) | 1 year,11 days | (#45397195)

That we haven't found Martians!

Re:I'm disappointed (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45397299)

NASA should really take the 'table flip' meme to heart for their next missions. They should be doing there what humans have been doing on Earth for centuries -- flipping over rocks and discovering fossils on the underside of them -- can you imagine that. So I propose to just send a bulldozer robot next and have it just flip the **** out of rocks all over the place.

Or you know... send a person.

hmmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45397221)

bottom of the cell phone bill says: $15 per 150 megabytes for overage charges (after the first 150 megabytes for $15 as part of the plan).. so essentially, it's $15 per 150 megabytes of data....

so.. lets turn bits into bytes and so forth, and we get:

200,000,000,000,000 / 8 / 1024 / 1024 / 150 * 15

equals

approx $2.4 million..

of course, that's not counting the outrageous data roaming surcharges that would apply in this case.

Re:hmmmm... (1)

MightyYar (622222) | 1 year,11 days | (#45397461)

NASA is on prepay.

Still too small of a 'pipe' (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45397277)

Considering the restrictions that Curiosity must go through when uploading data, I think it's clear that the bandwidth available to Mars is still way too low. It's easy to see this when you consider the next set of missions to the planet and what should be the goals of said missions - i.e. there's no reason why the 8minute landing couldn't be recorded at 1080p/60fps and uploaded the same day the next go around instead of the GIF we got in 2012.

For those saying that this isn't required for 'science', I'll respond by saying 'we should be done with science on this planet. It's time to send humans.' And when humans start traveling to Mars, we're going to need some serious bandwidth for real time video communication etc.

Re:Still too small of a 'pipe' (4, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | 1 year,11 days | (#45397321)

Why do humans need real-time video communication on Mars? It won't be real-time. Mars is 3 light-minutes away from Earth. The best we can hope for is a 6 minute lag between you asking a question and getting an answer.

And if you're going to have a six-minute lag, pretty much the bandwidth is irrelevant. It might as well be by the cheapest way possible, i.e. audio only with the occasional static picture for the "What the hell is this in the microscope?" questions.

The sheer bandwidth is also the problem. At 6 minute latencies, you're basically introducing more and more "buffers" to ensure correct data transmission. You won't know if what you sent was received properly until six minutes later. So you have to store AT LEAST six minutes of data (more likely lots more as you will have to retransmit).

The more bandwidth you wish to buffer, the larger storage that six minutes costs you. Six minutes of audio is nothing. A few hundred Kb. Six minutes of video is more. Six minutes of HD video is more again. And so on. And everything that you store / forward costs BIG money over interplanetary scales - from the broadcasting station itself (which can't reasonably ever be upgraded) to the DSN satellies around Mars to the receiving stations on Earth, and the more you send and the more you store and the faster you want to do it, the more it costs EVERYWHERE.

And, as you state, there is NO scientific value in this. So until humans are on the planet, it's really moot. But once they are there, HD video is the least of their concerns.

This is probably why you're not Director of Planetary Exploration at NASA, by the way.

Re:Still too small of a 'pipe' (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45397419)

As with war and all aspects of modern society and science, communication and its infrastructure is key to success. As another thread says, the current infrastructure only allows 8min / sol to be used for transmitting from planet up to the MRO which is hardly sufficient any longer.

Upgrading the communication infrastructure would be a good investment all around rather than sticking your head in regolith and crying about the cost problems as you seem to want to do. Dream bigger :)

Re:Still too small of a 'pipe' (1)

ledow (319597) | 1 year,11 days | (#45397543)

I do dream bigger.

I'd rather send a bunch more people up there and fuck the real-time video and bandwidth.

We're supposed to be colonising, not annexing Facebook.

Re:Still too small of a 'pipe' (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45402065)

You're not going to get a signal to Mars any faster, it's 3 to 25 light minutes away depending on where the two planets are in their orbits.

Re:Still too small of a 'pipe' (4, Informative)

grim4593 (947789) | 1 year,11 days | (#45397503)

It is even worse than that. The closest distance from Earth to Mars equates to about 3 minutes at light speed, the average is 14.1 minutes, and the longest is 15.22 minutes. http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=Distance+between+earth+and+mars [wolframalpha.com]

Re:Still too small of a 'pipe' (0)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | 1 year,11 days | (#45397881)

The lag of communication to Mars will be fixed once we figure out FTL communication.

It won't be next week, but it is possible within our lifetime.

Sending data FTL will be much easier than sending people FTL, far less mass to contend with.

Someone smart will figure it out.

Re:Still too small of a 'pipe' (2)

LordWabbit2 (2440804) | 1 year,11 days | (#45398135)

All we need to do is to tell the Japanese that we have found a planet populated by a race of teenage school girls and another race of monsters with tentacles and we will have FTL in no time.

Re:Still too small of a 'pipe' (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | 1 year,10 days | (#45398333)

Ha! That is SO true...

Er, um... so I've seen, ahh heard... well, been told... um, what were we talking about again?

Re:Still too small of a 'pipe' (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | 1 year,10 days | (#45398437)

A friend of mine recently came up with a term for that kind of thing: hentacle.

Re:Still too small of a 'pipe' (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45399061)

Or we tell the USA there's communists on Mars (it's red, after all!) who have oil.

FTL invasion in 3 2

Re:Still too small of a 'pipe' (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45405625)

The lag of communication to Mars will be fixed once we figure out FTL communication.

It won't be next week, but it is possible within our lifetime.

Sending data FTL will be much easier than sending people FTL, far less mass to contend with.

Someone smart will figure it out.

I'm not sure if you are trolling or not, but no, someone smart will not figure it out. Smart people have already figured out that not only will it not be made possible in our lifetime, but it will in fact not be made possible in our universe. Ever.

Re:Still too small of a 'pipe' (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45398949)

At 6 minute latencies,

so that's where the hughesnet satellite orbits at..

Re:Still too small of a 'pipe' (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45401579)

Mars is 3 light-minutes away from Earth.

That's at its very closest. When it's on the other side of the sun you're going to wait almost half an hour for an answer.

Re:Still too small of a 'pipe' (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45397345)

Bandwidth seems fine on 2013 terms (http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/mission/communicationwithearth/data/) The real kicker seems to be that Curiosity can only upload data for 8minutes / sol which really kills streaming possibilities. So yeah, they're gona need more MRO's up there...

Re:Still too small of a 'pipe' (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45397463)

It's far away, the distance keeps changing, there is stuff sometimes in between, the transmit power is low. What do you propose?

Re:Still too small of a 'pipe' (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45397507)

At minimum the setup proposed from Mars One: http://www.mars-one.com/en/communications-system

Ideally that setup would also provide much more download/upload capacity than MRO as well. Not just capacity required for taking pictures of rocks, but delivering much more dynamic content as well.

Re:Still too small of a 'pipe' (1)

PPH (736903) | 1 year,11 days | (#45397755)

This may explain why no Martians have signed up for Obamacare.

Re:Still too small of a 'pipe' (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45398163)

That might be the dumbest comment I've read on slashdot all year, and that's saying something.

Go do something, accomplish something, then get back to us.

NASA still using miles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45397289)

I thought they had a mandate to convert to the metric system...

RE: NASA still using miles? (1)

JohSketch (2735457) | 1 year,11 days | (#45397395)

No, the USA is still using the Imperial system. They still haven't gotten with the program

Re: NASA still using miles? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | 1 year,11 days | (#45397495)

Don't tell the BBC - I was just listening to a guy on there talking about the typhoon that hit the Philippines in terms of miles per hour.

Re: NASA still using miles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45404503)

NASA uses metric internally; their PR department convert it into imperial as part of the dumbing-down process prior to public release and again during the second dumbing down phase prior to releasing it to the government oversight committee.

Re:NASA still using miles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45397447)

They're converting to metric in two steps. First, they defined a "data mile" to be 1e12 bits. When everyone will be used to it they'll rename it to "terabit".

Error (1)

JohSketch (2735457) | 1 year,11 days | (#45397301)

"Your startup disk is almost full. You need to make more space available on your startup disk by deleting files."

Re:Error (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45397453)

Damn, they must have got another virus [youtube.com]

How is this possible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45397443)

We didn't even send anyone there! Is it possible to explore space without sending anyone in space?

Re:How is this possible? (1)

lxs (131946) | 1 year,10 days | (#45399523)

No one there? That's what they want you to think. Statistically with that volume of data being sent back there has to be petabytes of infringing content being sent TO Mars. It's a colony of space pirates. The content industry should ready their lawyers.

What kind of a stupid milestone is that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45397723)

Call me when you reach 2 ^ (2 * (2 ^ 2 ^ 2) + 2 ^ 2 + 2)

Re: What kind of a stupid milestone is that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45399033)

Funny, but they've already done 800 times that many bits. 200*(2^40) is 800 times your number (2^38).

(I'm using base-two terabits for simplicity.)

Binary terabits or marketing terabits? (1)

davidwr (791652) | 1 year,11 days | (#45397861)

Just wondering if the martians count in base 10 like the cave men who count on their fingers and thumbs or if they've advanced to base 10 and powers thereof like some machines.

--
"There are 10 kinds of people in the world: Those who can count to 10, and those who can't." --unknown

ma8e (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45398055)

walk up to a play project somewhere '*BSD Sux0rs'. This time I'm done here,

LADEE would do that pretty quick (1)

savuporo (658486) | 1 year,11 days | (#45398245)

http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/169348-nasa-activates-622-mbps-laser-link-between-the-earth-and-moon [extremetech.com]

With the lazors on it, and 600 meg downlink these terabytes would fill up in no time.

The longer term plan for the LLCD is to use communications satellites to bounce transmissions between ground stations at 1.25 gigabits per second.

In other news, server lag from lunar orbit will remain a bitch for the foreseeable future.

Re:LADEE would do that pretty quick (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45399051)

In other news, server lag from lunar orbit will remain a bitch for the foreseeable future.

Still lower than between Europe and Australia on a bad day.

what a waste of money, help your people first!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45399575)

do as you say no?
http://www.firstpost.com/india/why-western-criticism-of-indias-mars-mission-is-blatant-racism-1224419.html/ [firstpost.com]
would not want anyone to accuse the west of hypocrisy, now would we?

Re:what a waste of money, help your people first!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45400783)

Well said. I wonder why these countries moan about economic crisis and yet send probes to Mars. And to top it all, they hypocritically lecture countries like India.

... missions managed by JPL? (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | 1 year,10 days | (#45403165)

That 200-terabit milestone also surpasses the ten years' worth of data returned via NASA's Deep Space Network from all other missions managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California

I'm not sure how to read that sentance. JPL manages missions, and they also manage the DSN. But missions managed at APL, GSFC, MSFC and other places *also* use the DSN.

And DSN's much older than 10 years ... Voyager uses it, and it was launched in 1977.

It sounds to me like they just picked a convenient time for their 'more than' comparison, and even then didn't even compare it to the whole thing, only some subset.

(disclaimer : I work for some missions that use the DSN, that aren't managed by JPL)

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