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NASA Announces Mars 2020 Rover Payload

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the forgot-the-alien-attack-cannon-again dept.

Mars 109

An anonymous reader writes with news that the Mars 2020 experiments have been chosen: In short, the 2020 rover will cary 7 instruments, out of 58 proposals in total, and the rover itself will be based on the current Curiosity rover. The selected instruments are: Mastcam-Z, an advanced camera system with panoramic and stereoscopic imaging capability with the ability to zoom. SuperCam, an instrument that can provide imaging, chemical composition analysis, and mineralogy. The instrument will also be able to detect the presence of organic compounds in rocks and regolith from a distance. Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL), an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer that will also contain an imager with high resolution to determine the fine scale elemental composition of Martian surface materials. Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC) — This one will have a UV laser! The Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE), an exploration technology investigation that will produce oxygen from Martian atmospheric carbon dioxide. Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA). This one is basically a weather station. The Radar Imager for Mars' Subsurface Exploration (RIMFAX), a ground-penetrating radar that will provide centimeter-scale resolution of the geologic structure of the subsurface.

Can't decide if the UV laser or the ground radar is the coolest of the lot.

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How about wheels that work? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47581381)

That would seem to be the key payload here. The current Curiosity has only gone a small fraction of it's design distance and speed pales to that of the solar power rovers it was supposed to sprint past.

Re:How about wheels that work? (4, Insightful)

SQLGuru (980662) | about 4 months ago | (#47581527)

To me, the MOXIE experiment is the most interesting. It would lead to future colonization since all of their oxygen wouldn't need to be brought with the space-goers.

Re:How about wheels that work? (2)

Joe Gillian (3683399) | about 4 months ago | (#47581661)

There's one thing I don't get about that, though. From what I've read, they've found ice on Mars. What's stopping them from simply making a robot dedicated to harvesting and melting the ice into an artificial "lake" and introducing photosynthetic bacteria to It to get oxygen?

Re:How about wheels that work? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47581733)

Mars atmosphere is too thin to sustain a lake. Any unfrozen water will evaporate or refreeze. //Interestingly enough, its thin atmosphere is mainly due to it not having a liquid core anymore, its core cooled and stopped spinning, so it no longer has a magnetic shield against radiation. The solar wind has wisked away the majority of its atmosphere.

So steps in terraforming mars would need to start with creating an artificial magnetic field to block the solar wind.

Re:How about wheels that work? (1)

penguinoid (724646) | about 4 months ago | (#47586485)

So steps in terraforming mars would need to start with creating an artificial magnetic field to block the solar wind.

There is a really cool (pun intended) system that would not only produce a large magnetic field, but provide an extremely efficient energy storage system capable of handling large unexpected spikes. Superconducting_magnetic_energy_storage [wikipedia.org]

Re:How about wheels that work? (2)

dotancohen (1015143) | about 4 months ago | (#47582121)

I think that you underestimate the techinical challenges to do what you are suggesting! There is not quite as much ice as you might expect, nor is there heat to melt it, nor are there nutrients for the bacteria. Ecosystems take eons to develop.

Re: How about wheels that work? (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 4 months ago | (#47584107)

For a brief instant, I thought that read "they found rice on Mars." I realized that it must be a typo even if I hadn't read it wrong... but needless to say, a whole slew of witty punchlines crossed through my mind...

Re:How about wheels that work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47584221)

The martian atmosphere is sufficiently cold and low pressure that liquid water would evaporate and freeze at the same time. It won't sustain a lake.

Re:How about wheels that work? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47582841)

To me, the MOXIE experiment is the most interesting. It would lead to future colonization since all of their oxygen wouldn't need to be brought with the space-goers.

Damn straight! The other stuff is basically just refining what we already know. I'm sure geologists will be over the moon if we discover that Mars has 0.1% more iron III oxide than previously thought, but In Situ Resource Utilization is so massively important for the future of humanity, it's a travesty we haven't gone further with it yet. I don't care if it's on the Moon or Mars; extracting a substantial amount of usable water or oxygen from the surroundings would be almost as huge as sending another human to another planetary body.

Laser? Radar? Please. At this point those are little more than toys compared to advancing our ISRU capabilities.

Re:How about wheels that work? (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 4 months ago | (#47583929)

Wow, this post is almost precisely the opposite of reality (you must be a NASA contractor working SLS, etc.). MOXIE is pointless but the other instruments will be very valuable in looking for past signs of life .

Re:How about wheels that work? (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 4 months ago | (#47583909)

The MOXIE is the most idiotic experiment to fly in a long, long time. This is an experiment that could easily be done on Earth in any of a hundred University basements. The Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) experiment on MLS (Curiousity) was another concession to the all-powerful manned spaceflight lobby at NASA, but at least the RAD told us something we could not figure out here on Earth. It gave us some useful info on the radiation levels in flight and on the surface. MOXIE, on the other hand, is pointless.

Re:How about wheels that work? (2)

khallow (566160) | about 4 months ago | (#47584953)

As an experiment, it is close to pointless. As a technology demonstration it has somewhat more value, though perhaps not enough to justify its inclusion. You could do this a hundred times in those basements and it would still not be done on Mars. For a technology to be demonstrated in a particular unusual situation or environment, then it sooner or later has to be deployed in that situation or environment.

Re:How about wheels that work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47581619)

How about wheels that work?

They do work. If you think they don't work well enough, well, you design better ones.

The current Curiosity has only gone a small fraction of it's design distance

...and it's still going. Every rover has, at some point in its operation, only gone a fraction of its design distance.

and speed pales to that of the solar power rovers it was supposed to sprint past.

When was it ever meant to "sprint past" them? It's not a race.

Posting AC to avoid more mod points being wasted to mod me down into oblivion with you.

Re:How about wheels that work? (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 4 months ago | (#47581627)

Actually, Curiosity's scheduled mission on Mars was for 668 mars days. It's been there for 724 mars days now.

Just because it hasn't (yet) vastly outlived it's scheduled mission, doesn't mean it's a failure.

Re:How about wheels that work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47582457)

" The current Curiosity has only gone a small fraction of it's design distance"

For a guy that can't tell its from it's, you're awfully generous with your advice to rocket scientists.

Re:How about wheels that work? (1)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | about 4 months ago | (#47583101)

It's cool, the guy plays a lot of Kerbal Space Program, I'm sure he knows what he is talking about.

My condolences to the also-rans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47581465)

If I remember right they had something like 150 proposals for instruments on this mission and they went with six.

SIX???? THE FIRST SENTENCE OF THE SUMMARY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47581713)

Six? I know this is slashdot, but EVEN THE SUMMARY SAYS SEVEN, you didn't even have to read the article, JUST THE FIRST SENTENCE OF THE SUMMARY.

IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?

Weird (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47581471)

Can't we just pack a 3D printer with the Mars One people? This rover stuff is so Ludditic.

Re:Weird (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47581869)

Can't we just pack a 3D printer with the Mars One people? This rover stuff is so Ludditic.

Luddite [wikipedia.org] ? I do not think that means what you think it means.

Re:Weird (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47582955)

Well, tell that to the people who called me a Luddite because I don't think we'll 3D print cars in our Mars condos.

I now believe that 3D printing will replace every single technology and energy source we use, and we will 3D print asteroid colonies. From space dust.

Laser? (1, Funny)

CimmerianX (2478270) | about 4 months ago | (#47581493)

...Because it's always a good idea to give robots lasers. What's the worst that could happen?

Re:Laser? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47581651)

Hey everybody! It's another "science" article where the utterly clueless feel the need to make stupid jokes!!
 
Just another crappy day at Slashdork.

Re:Laser? (1)

Dins (2538550) | about 4 months ago | (#47581717)

Lighten up Francis.

Re:Laser? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47581841)

Nah, we make intelligent jokes. You're just too stupid to understand them.

Coolest of the lot (1)

dtmos (447842) | about 4 months ago | (#47581515)

Can't decide if the UV laser or the ground radar is the coolest of the lot.

That would be the UV laser. Ground-penetrating radar is so Twentieth Century.

Re:Coolest of the lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47581541)

UC lasers are also 20th century...

They missed one. (2)

NMBob (772954) | about 4 months ago | (#47581547)

Where's the seismometer? Three would have been nice. It could have dropped them off at three different places.

Why do we do these things? (0, Flamebait)

bogaboga (793279) | about 4 months ago | (#47581601)

I am not saying there's no advantage to space exploration, but I simply wonder why we continue to do these things yet we have a very big [budget] deficit. Why?

Apart from knowledge of how space works, what has the ordinary American gained from the billions spent on the space program? Can anyone point me to any tangible or intangible goods resulting from space exploration?

Re:Why do we do these things? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47581649)

Jesus weeps for your ignorance: NASA spinoffs [wikipedia.org]

Re:Why do we do these things? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47581673)

A lot more than from the trillions your guys have spent on war.

Re:Why do we do these things? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47581695)

I'd rather spend money here [wikipedia.org] than on fattening up the poor so we can also foot the bill for their heart attacks. We could also slash about half the US military budget too but even that is better than having a percentage of my labors going to pay for some ne'er-do-wells cigarettes and malt liquor.

Re:Why do we do these things? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47581727)

NASA's budget is a rounding error in entitlements, DoD, DOE, etc. Even if there were not many benefits (see AC 2 up), the NASA budget is less that half a percent of the total budget.

Re:Why do we do these things? (4, Interesting)

netsavior (627338) | about 4 months ago | (#47581773)

Are you joking, or just straw-manning? Space exploration has forced humanity to come up with new and useful technologies. Try something hard, and you will inevitably make other things better. Nasa spin-off technologies have built the world.

They include:
Enriched Infant formula and other foods - which has probably done more for the collective intelligence of mankind than almost any other single effort in the history of humanity.
Water purification advances
Solar power
Firefighting advances
Safety grooving on highways
Aircraft Anti-Icing
Those ones are obvious, and easy to trace in their benefits, long term and short. See Wikipedia for a more complete list [wikipedia.org]

But more important than any one single benefit, eventually we will run out of room. This is not some abstract theory. Sure, we can populate the desert and the ocean, sure we can die from disease and war, but eventually, Earth will not be enough. Betting on exploration is betting on humanity, in the long, long haul.

Our ancestors built dugout canoes 40,000 years ago. If dugouts had been a waste of a good axe-stone, when there were rival tribes to murder, Columbus would have never found the new world. I am betting that humans are a viable species. I am betting that mankind has nowhere to go but up. Look to the future, embrace exploration, it is the only way that mankind can last another 40,000 years.

Re:Why do we do these things? (2)

arse maker (1058608) | about 4 months ago | (#47582569)

Pursuing the desire that many people share to learn and explore and to push the limits of that new knowledge does not require a balance sheet justification.

If you feel the goal of life is to balance the short term budget of america (even though the nasa budget has essentially no impact on this at all) you should probably spend some time thinking about the fact we are all going to die, the earth will die, the universe will die, and when the last human dies, do you think they will wish we could have siphoned off some more money from nasa's budget to pay some some tiny fraction of the 2014 deficit off?

Re:Why do we do these things? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47582801)

That's your ideology talking.

In the real world, securing funding for NASA is a challenge so the spin-off products must be mentioned.

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

sysrammer (446839) | about 4 months ago | (#47582933)

You win today's PAi (Pertinent Answer (on the Internet (tm)))!

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | about 4 months ago | (#47583221)

Running out of room isn't a good reason to go into space. If Earth's population doesn't stabilize on its own, we will have to send off truly massive numbers of people in very short order -- and we'd end up with the same problem we started with because people will just keep reproducing. Consider http://www.open.edu/openlearn/... [open.edu] .

If Earth isn't enough, but humanity has enough space, it'll be because we went to space first and then found we had plenty of space to increase our population. Not because our population was so great that we had to escape from Earth. In other words, cause and effect are backwards here. Earth will be enough until we go elsewhere, and even after it'll have to do for most Earthlings. Abandoning Earth en masse is likely to ruin Earth (https://what-if.xkcd.com/7/)

There are other possible motivations. If humanity could set up some system of interstellar trade (unlikely though that may be), that could be a motivation for wanting a larger population than Earth can sustain, in a location distant from Earth. I've also heard the "not all eggs in one basket" motivation for the survival of the human species, which I'm less fond of (why would you want to hedge your bets on that one?). Etc.

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 4 months ago | (#47583511)

It's probably impossible to launch enough people off the Earth fast enough to keep up with the current birth rate. Maybe with something like the Star Trek transporters but not with rocket launches or even space elevators.

Re:Why do we do these things? (2)

uncqual (836337) | about 4 months ago | (#47583933)

The "eventually we will run out of room" argument doesn't make a lot of sense to me.The cost of, relatively safely, putting one human on even another planet in our solar system, let alone an unknown planet in another solar system in our galaxy, is enormous. Yes, the cost will come down, but seems unlikely to ever be less than several times the average person's lifetime net contribution to mankind unless that net contribution increases incredibly (which, in turn, seems unlikely to happen if we are suffering from overpopulation - as resources become scarcer, more effort is consumed extracting those resources -- but these high extraction costs don't translate into a better life for the average person -- it's just increased overhead).

Birth control and education is a much cheaper and sustainable solution to the "eventually we will run out of room" problem. Barring that, mass famine, war, genocide and natural selection will take care of the the problem quite efficiently.

If the concern is to address the "the Earth may become inhabitable to humans and we want to preserve the species" problem, space exploration could be a component of a strategy to address the concern. Except for a cataclysmic event such as multiple strikes from many very large asteroids, that concern is unlikely to need an answer for many millions of years. But, in any event, the answer to that concern almost certainly will not be to ship billions of humans off the planet (due to the expense and resource consumption of that activity). Instead, sets of breeders (either select humans or, more likely, a few caregivers along with artificial wombs and a diverse set of human genetic material to create a decent sized first generation of humans) will likely be sent to various promising celestial bodies in hopes that a few communities can be established and survive propagating whatever the "human" species is at that point (of course these communities, as well as those that remain on Earth, will independently evolve and probably would not recognize each other as "humans" in a few hundred thousand years -- so it's not clear what the point is).

Both of these concerns are, of course, predicated on an assumption that the human species is somehow special enough to the universe to bother to preserve except in an archeological record. I'm doubtful this is the case myself. However, I support NASA because it's got good spinoffs and, at least in the past, motivated kids to go into the science and engineering fields which is generally helpful to society. Space exploration may also help inform the answer to the question of if the human species is worth going to great effort to sustain past its natural (probably short compared to many species that surround us) extinction on Earth.

Re:Why do we do these things? (2)

khallow (566160) | about 4 months ago | (#47584123)

Those ones are obvious, and easy to trace in their benefits, long term and short.

The spin off argument is deeply flawed. For example, every single one of these technologies would have been developed anyway. NASA is just a flavor of funding.

But more important than any one single benefit, eventually we will run out of room.

That's an argument for long term population control, not space development. After all, the Earth isn't actually getting any smaller. And if you don't mind the occasional mass die offs, you don't even have to care about population control.

Re:Why do we do these things? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47584601)

The spin off argument is deeply flawed. For example, every single one of these technologies would have been developed anyway. NASA is just a flavor of funding.
 
You know, when I was a young tech who was just bumbling his way around a corporate cube farm I had to deal with someone who thought like this. I think his problem was that he felt that he could do better and that I shouldn't have been making a couple bucks more than him while he had to deal with dissatisfied customers on the phone. He even came out at one point and told me that he could do my job and I told him that he probably could be doing my job but the difference was I was the one doing the job.
 
So say all you want about NASA being "a flavor of funding" but they're the ones who are actually doing the work. Why does it burn your ass that someone else isn't? What benefit do you see from having someone else do the work?

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 4 months ago | (#47584883)

You know, when I was a young tech who was just bumbling his way around a corporate cube farm I had to deal with someone who thought like this.

I'm not saying I'll do this personally, but rather the whole of human endeavor would. Given that they actually did do it (just with NASA's signature on a few of the funding checks), then that's vastly different from your coworkers point of view. NASA didn't actually do the vast majority of that work, it was done by contractors. And I believe that those contractors or their competitors would have done the work anyway.

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 4 months ago | (#47585439)

Enriched Infant formula and other foods - which has probably done more for the collective intelligence of mankind than almost any other single effort in the history of humanity.

Infant formula was invented in the 29th century. It is inferior to breast milk, and the marketing of formula in less developed countries has led to many babies dying (due to the fact that mothers, by necessity, must prepare it in unsanitary conditions, and because it is nutritionally inferior to breast milk), Overall it's invention has been detrimental to our species - and babies fed on breast milk, owing to it's superiority (nutrition wise) consistently score higher in cognitive function. Suggesting that baby formula has probably done more for the collective intelligence of mankind than almost any other single effort in the history of humanity. is a grotesque misunderstanding.

Water purification advances

The russians invented a system to extract water from urine. General water purification is of course not needed because cosmonauts and astronauts aren't drinking out of streams or rivers. When I say invented it, they of course miniaturised a system that already existed prior to space travel. Water purification systems are important, but none of the technology invented for Mir (and later used in the ISS) is relevant to usage on earth.

Solar power

Previous technology that was improved by the space initiative to power satellites. No advancement in solar power is linked to human space travel.

But more important than any one single benefit, eventually we will run out of room. This is not some abstract theory. Sure, we can populate the desert and the ocean, sure we can die from disease and war, but eventually, Earth will not be enough. Betting on exploration is betting on humanity, in the long, long haul.

Your sums are wrong. There are (around) 200 000 more births a day then deaths (Source [populationinstitute.org] ). Supposing there were a magical place to send these people, the requisite lift capacity would exhaust our supply of fuel within a day or so, and our atmosphere would be irreparably damaged.

And to be clear, no such magical place exists. Mars, for example, would not sustain a days worth of the Earths population increase. It is too cold, too small, too far away from the sun.

Our ancestors built dugout canoes 40,000 years ago. If dugouts had been a waste of a good axe-stone, when there were rival tribes to murder, Columbus would have never found the new world.

Columbus didn't find a new world. He inadvertently stumbled upon a continent that was already populated.

I am betting that humans are a viable species. I am betting that mankind has nowhere to go but up. Look to the future, embrace exploration, it is the only way that mankind can last another 40,000 years.

You're wrong. You've constructed a strawman argument to link the survival of humanity with physically lobbing meat bags into space. No such link exists.

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 4 months ago | (#47585451)

Edit: By 29th, I of course meant 19th century. No time travel involved.

Re:Why do we do these things? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47581807)

Smells like a troll, but I'll bite: GPS.

Re:Why do we do these things? (2)

CRCulver (715279) | about 4 months ago | (#47582435)

GPS is a technology in Earth orbit. Plenty of critics of space exploration are fine with technologies in orbit, where they have obvious military uses, but they may not see any purpose in going further afield to other planets at this time.

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 4 months ago | (#47584043)

The whiplash on that one when someone finally figures out how to make asteroid mining even slightly viable is going to be incredible. I expect many breathless articles by terrestial mining magnates on how it's a terrifically poor investment that will never work in the lead up to someone splashing down a blob of aerated platinum.

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 4 months ago | (#47590703)

GPS is a military spinoff not a NASA spinoff.

Re:Why do we do these things? (4, Insightful)

American AC in Paris (230456) | about 4 months ago | (#47582493)

I am not saying there's no advantage to space exploration, but I simply wonder why we continue to do these things yet we have a very big [budget] deficit. Why?

Apart from knowledge of how space works, what has the ordinary American gained from the billions spent on the space program? Can anyone point me to any tangible or intangible goods resulting from space exploration?

Because each time we overcome a monumental challenge for the first time, we expand the frontier of human knowledge and endeavor.

As our frontier expands, that which was undone becomes possible; that which was possible, replicable; that which was replicable, automatable; that which was automatable, trivial; that which was trivial, obsolete.

Just over a century ago, tinkers managed to propel a glorified kite a few feet through the air. The tangible benefit of this flight of fancy is that today, we complain about the comfort of the seats in mass-produced aircraft that can send us around the globe for a historically infinitesimal cost in time and money.

Seventy years ago, the US government was one year into the construction of ENIAC, one of the first general-purpose digital computers ever created. Upon its completion two years later, it would occupy 680 square feet, require the power of roughly six modern households, process up to 500 operations per second, and spend roughly half its time being repaired. The tangible benefit of this monstrosity is that today you likely carry, on your person, roughly 25 million times more computing power than ENIAC. It is quite likely that use the bulk of this computing power primarily for your own personal entertainment.

45 years ago, after years of research and significant government funding, ARPANET was launched. Not many people expected it to be of any significant practical value; in fact, the first message ever sent over ARPANET only managed to deliver two characters before crashing the entire network for an hour. The tangible benefit of this boondoggle is that today, we have the Internet, the direct descendant of ARPANET.

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

uncqual (836337) | about 4 months ago | (#47583941)

The tangible benefit of this boondoggle is that today, we have the Internet, the direct descendant of ARPANET.

And, without that, we couldn't have /. -- and that's a benefit?

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 4 months ago | (#47586315)

You've engaged in a good quantity of confirmation bias there, by selecting tentative technologies that led to transformation and then assuming that every endeavour, no matter how foolish it sounds, will lead inevitably to societal transformation. What nonsense - in amongst our successes, there are numerous boondoggles, and for every successful new technology there are technologies that are made redundant. Human space travel is the latter, an outmoded technology which, like steam trains, we may look back on with fondness but which has no place in our future technology plans. We know that, we've known that since the 60's. It was outmoded even during the space program - kennedy chose the moon mission over a deep space probe not for it's scientific value, but because it conformed to the myth of the american pioneer, and thus brought comfort to the american public in a time of deep anxiety.

Now is the time to shed our anxieties and abandon the comfort pillow of manned space flight. Now is the time to embrace the fact that, like manufacturing, information processing, transport, medicine , the future for space travel lies not in the hands of astronauts/taikonauts/cosmonauts but in the grip of machines. We know it does, we've known that for a long time. Right now, this obsession is holding us back (albeit a friustrated few of us struggle against it's bonds). Advocates of manned spaceflight are like coal miners who insist that only picks can be used to mine coal, while the longwalling machines and draglines sit idle. The image of the astronaut is romantic, no doubt, and full of bravado, like the hard working reaper, chimney sweep, or seamstress. But now, we need to move on. Move on.

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 4 months ago | (#47586979)

Now is the time to embrace the fact that, like manufacturing, information processing, transport, medicine , the future for space travel lies not in the hands of astronauts/taikonauts/cosmonauts but in the grip of machines.

And what does that "fact" have to do with manned space flight? We didn't actually stop doing anything of those things just because we have machines to help us. In particular, did you stop traveling just because that is in the "grip" of machines?

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 4 months ago | (#47587429)

And what does that "fact" have to do with manned space flight?

The fact renders manned spaceflight unnecessary and redundant, just as electronic computers have rendered human computers redundant.

We didn't actually stop doing anything of those things just because we have machines to help us.

Well, yes we did. We stopped strangling animals when spears rendered strangling redundant. We stopped charging the enemy with swords when guns rendered the older technology redundant. We stopped travelling by steam train when the automobile and electric train rendered the former technology redundant.

History is replete with counter arguments to the notion that we should just keep doing stuff by hand "because".

In particular, did you stop traveling just because that is in the "grip" of machines?

Absolutely. For example, I send emails instead of walking to the desk of a colleague, I ring people, I teleconference. It is nothing to me to communicate with 60 people in an hour dispersed across a country the size of a continent. Something that would be impossible if I had to be physically present at every gathering and for every conversation. Which I would need to do were it not for the aid of machines. My everyday life is enabled because we ignored the naysayers who irrationally assume that no interaction can take place except by physical presence.

Now all that remains is to rebuke the same irrationality when it is applied to space exploration.

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 4 months ago | (#47590487)

The fact renders manned spaceflight unnecessary and redundant, just as electronic computers have rendered human computers redundant.

If I want to go to Mars, then manned spaceflight is on the critical path. And a lot of people want to go to Mars. There's an example of the need.

That also nixes the "redundant" argument. There is no other way to get to Mars except by crossing the intervening space. There's no other way to get to Mars. So manned spaceflight is not redundant.

Absolutely. For example, I send emails instead of walking to the desk of a colleague, I ring people, I teleconference. It is nothing to me to communicate with 60 people in an hour dispersed across a country the size of a continent. Something that would be impossible if I had to be physically present at every gathering and for every conversation. Which I would need to do were it not for the aid of machines. My everyday life is enabled because we ignored the naysayers who irrationally assume that no interaction can take place except by physical presence.

No, I didn't ask if you travel less, but rather if you stopped traveling at all.

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 4 months ago | (#47590763)

If I want to go to Mars, then manned spaceflight is on the critical path.

There's your problem right there. "I want to go" is not a good enough reason. Taking you as an example, if there ever were a viable attempt to reach Mars, you would not be selected. Therefore, you need a reason to support it that isn't based on personal feelings and the desire for a joy ride to somewhere unusual.

And a lot of people want to go to Mars. There's an example of the need.

No, that's an example of desire. I desire a bacon & egg muffin. Which is not a problem, unless I have an expectation that someone else ought to pay for my muffin. Which brings us back to the Mars joyride.

A small number of people want to go to Mars, a yet smaller number will actually get to go. Even the most optimistic estimates (and they are fantastically optimistic ) put the number at 100 people per year. Inevitably, this means that within our lifetime, the enormous cost of sending those people will be borne by those who don't go, and who therefore need to be convinced to fund the adventures of those who do.

No, I didn't ask if you travel less, but rather if you stopped traveling at all.

In fact I rarely, if ever, travel except for pleasure or personal reasons. And I don't travel on someone else's dime. If I desire to go to Paris for a holiday (for instance), I'm not under any delusions that other people ought to pay for me to go.

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 4 months ago | (#47590919)

"I want to go" is not a good enough reason.

For you. It's quite valid for other people.

Therefore, you need a reason to support it that isn't based on personal feelings and the desire for a joy ride to somewhere unusual.

So that reason has to be based on your personal feelings instead? No, doesn't work that way.

In fact I rarely, if ever, travel except for pleasure or personal reasons.

There we go.

And I don't travel on someone else's dime.

I noticed you mention this a couple of times. This is a different argument than the "machines obsolete us wanting to do anything". I don't mind the rest of society not putting in for my space fetishes. Obviously, there's a lot of people who think that if trillions a year are burned on things they don't care about, then part of it should be burned on things they do care about. But I think that's a typical problem of having public funding around and not particular to manned spaceflight.

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 4 months ago | (#47591909)

"I want to go" is not a good enough reason.

For you. It's quite valid for other people.

No, it isn't. Your feelings are irrelevant to pretty much everybody. What matters is your ability to formulate an argument touching upon (a) The reason why we should send a human to do something that a robot can do better, and cheaper (b) The reasons why that human should be you.

"I should have it because I want it" is not a valid answer once you pass 5 years old. Did your mother teach you nothing.

Therefore, you need a reason to support it that isn't based on personal feelings and the desire for a joy ride to somewhere unusual.

So that reason has to be based on your personal feelings instead? No, doesn't work that way.

I would have thought that conclusion was obvious. It won't happen because you want it to - because your feelings are irrelevant. If I wanted it, it still wouldn't happen, because MY feelings are also irrelevant. Don't you understand that? At the moment, there is a tiny group of people who still cling to the pre-Apollo notion that space travel should include humans. This group of people aren't particularly rich (at least on the scale of the finances required), and aren't noticeably expanding in number or in influence.

Why is that? I suggest it is because this group of people have failed to articulate a strong reason to revive the practice of sending humans to do a robots job. You need to articulate and objective reason for us to do this. Then you might convince enough people that it is a good idea. So far, you have not done so.

In fact I rarely, if ever, travel except for pleasure or personal reasons. And I don't travel on someone else's dime.

I noticed you mention this a couple of times. This is a different argument than the "machines obsolete us wanting to do anything".

No it isn't, you've just failed to listen. Read my remarks again.

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 4 months ago | (#47592221)

Your feelings are irrelevant to pretty much everybody.

Pretty much everybody is not everybody. It doesn't include me. You are just arguing that your feelings and opinions should be more important to me than my own. That isn't the case.

What matters is your ability to formulate an argument touching upon (a) The reason why we should send a human to do something that a robot can do better, and cheaper (b) The reasons why that human should be you.

I've already answered these questions. A robot can't be a human living on Mars. And it's not important that I personally go to Mars.

"I should have it because I want it" is not a valid answer once you pass 5 years old.

And an argument irrelevant to this thread. I'm not arguing from entitlement. I want and I will try to get it as a result. That is all. There is no expectation that I should get it merely because I want it. But similarly, I don't appreciate the placement of frivolous obstructions or objections to my goals based solely on petty and myopic philosophical distinctions.

At the moment, there is a tiny group of people who still cling to the pre-Apollo notion that space travel should include humans. This group of people aren't particularly rich (at least on the scale of the finances required), and aren't noticeably expanding in number or in influence.

Your argument is based on the assumption that manned spaceflight will always be out of reach of the resources of this group. I think it's worth noting that need not be so. The barrier to entry is slowly going down. I wouldn't be surprised if within our lifetimes space travel becomes possible for someone of moderate means and strong competence just due to advances in small group-scale manufacture.

No it isn't, you've just failed to listen. Read my remarks again.

You already admitted that you travel, despite claiming that machines obsoleted any reason for you to travel. I think your remarks are just not that useful in this area.

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 4 months ago | (#47593031)

Your feelings are irrelevant to pretty much everybody.

Pretty much everybody is not everybody. It doesn't include me. You are just arguing that your feelings and opinions should be more important to me than my own. That isn't the case.

You obsession with my feelings is a bit ridiculous. I've already pointed out that my feelings on the subject don't matter. But rather than arguing against that, you chose to ignore it and carry on in self delusion.

I've already answered these questions. A robot can't be a human living on Mars.

A robot can't be a living bandicoot on Mars either. Your point is?

And it's not important that I personally go to Mars.

Well, no, because, as you explained in the other thread, the reason why you want a manned mission to Mars is so that you can watch them die, because you think that would be entertaining.

"I should have it because I want it" is not a valid answer once you pass 5 years old.

And an argument irrelevant to this thread.

It would be, except for the fact that this is your argument, and the only one you've supplied so far, as why we should fund a program to send a human to do a job that a robot does better.

I'm not arguing from entitlement. I want and I will try to get it as a result. That is all. There is no expectation that I should get it merely because I want it. But similarly, I don't appreciate the placement of frivolous obstructions or objections to my goals based solely on petty and myopic philosophical distinctions.

You want it, but you can't provide any reason beyond "I want it". You can't otherwise explain why the rest of us should fund it - or you can explain it , but for whatever obscure reason, have chosen not to. Consequently, you won't get that funding , because until there is a valid reason to send a human, we will keep sending robots instead of humans.

At the moment, there is a tiny group of people who still cling to the pre-Apollo notion that space travel should include humans. This group of people aren't particularly rich (at least on the scale of the finances required), and aren't noticeably expanding in number or in influence.

Your argument is based on the assumption that manned spaceflight will always be out of reach of the resources of this group.

Nope. I've made it clear that if people want to engage in historical reenactments using the space technology of yesteryear, then i don't care - as long as they do it on their own dime, and don't cut into the budget associated with science or space exploration. I've no problem with self funded hobbies.

You already admitted that you travel, despite claiming that machines obsoleted any reason for you to travel. I think your remarks are just not that useful in this area.

You apparently think it's significant that I travel for pleasure - however you can't explain why.

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 4 months ago | (#47593151)

You obsession with my feelings is a bit ridiculous. I've already pointed out that my feelings on the subject don't matter. But rather than arguing against that, you chose to ignore it and carry on in self delusion.

Which is patently false since your argument is based on your feelings.

A robot can't be a living bandicoot on Mars either. Your point is?

And if I were intent on colonizing bandicoots on Mars, that would mean that sending robots wouldn't do that either.

You want it, but you can't provide any reason beyond "I want it". You can't otherwise explain why the rest of us should fund it - or you can explain it , but for whatever obscure reason, have chosen not to. Consequently, you won't get that funding , because until there is a valid reason to send a human, we will keep sending robots instead of humans.

There's no point to your verbiage. "Because I want to" is a sufficient argument. Of course, I have reasons why I want it. And if I were, say, trying to convince you to want Mars colonization as well, then I'd expound on them. But I'm not.

Nope. I've made it clear that if people want to engage in historical reenactments using the space technology of yesteryear, then i don't care - as long as they do it on their own dime, and don't cut into the budget associated with science or space exploration. I've no problem with self funded hobbies.

Why do your hobbies get public funding and mine don't? I don't have problems with self-funded hobbies either. Space science for the sake of space science is just another hobby. Please, by all means pay for it yourself out of your own budget.

You apparently think it's significant that I travel for pleasure - however you can't explain why.

Let me make myself clear. I don't care why you travel. I just verified that you do. Because you wrote originally:

Now is the time to embrace the fact that, like manufacturing, information processing, transport, medicine , the future for space travel lies not in the hands of astronauts/taikonauts/cosmonauts but in the grip of machines.

By the fact that you still travel, no matter the reason, then there is something that the "grip" of machines isn't doing for you.

Re:Why do we do these things? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47587049)

Much like the phenomena of "first post!", I feel deeply compelled to make some snarky comment (and feel like I have deep insight) about your obvious myopia because "where would we be had not the noble (savage) caveman decided to never leave the comforts of his cave?"

But, yeah, you're absolutely right. Space is really really really fucking big and hostile. Yes, we'll eventually send out one-way "pioneers", but that won't be a realistic option for many more lifetimes. I do, however, think we'll do something really stupid in the near-term, like send up a Mars colony where, if we're lucky and it doesn't turn into The Donner Party 2040, it will be abandoned after sucking up tremendous resources and we'll all look back nostalgically on that era after several decades had passed. We'll, of course, write about the Mars colonists as brave heroes because of their brave sacrifice, but everyone with half a technical brain would have known from the outset that it was going to be a one-way mission. Don't get me wrong; I'd love flying through space in a research station with Barbara Bain as much as the next guy, but in reality it would be pretty dreadful.

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 4 months ago | (#47587453)

You're right. Whilst the uniqueness of the experience would be sure to exhilarate for a while, after a time I imagine that space travel would gall. After all, you are in a tin can with people you didn't choose, no chance of escape and subjected to a harsh daily routine of exercise and diet. I hope we don't progress to a mars colony, not matter how brief. Because I think that the reality of the experience cannot be covered up: unlike the apollo mission which was a few days of adrenaline, and then back home, travelling to Mars will give people time to reflect on what they left behind. It will be an agonising experience to watch those idealists implode before our eyes, as the truth of it sinks in. Mars is boring, there's no exciting pioneering life, no fame or fortune. Just drudgery and the fear that food supplies will run out and the water purifier will break. Eventually something goes wrong and you're dead. Brutal and uncompromised by happy hollywood endings.

I think seeing that will set back not just manned attempts but the important stuff, the scientific missions. That would be a tragedy.

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 4 months ago | (#47590749)

Whilst the uniqueness of the experience would be sure to exhilarate for a while, after a time I imagine that space travel would gall.

How long would that take? If it takes longer than a human lifetime for the involved parties, then there's not a problem.

I hope we don't progress to a mars colony, not matter how brief. Because I think that the reality of the experience cannot be covered up: unlike the apollo mission which was a few days of adrenaline, and then back home, travelling to Mars will give people time to reflect on what they left behind. It will be an agonising experience to watch those idealists implode before our eyes, as the truth of it sinks in. Mars is boring, there's no exciting pioneering life, no fame or fortune. Just drudgery and the fear that food supplies will run out and the water purifier will break. Eventually something goes wrong and you're dead. Brutal and uncompromised by happy hollywood endings.

So why would it be like that? I find the rationalizing behind this argument intriguing. Where else would we "hope" that someone doesn't do something merely because they might not like it?

I think seeing that will set back not just manned attempts but the important stuff, the scientific missions.

You forgot the scare quotes on "important". It won't matter to the navel gazers, if Mars exists or not. A lot of them probably never even saw the place in the sky. The people for whom that science will matter will be the people doing stuff on Mars, not necessarily in person, but not necessarily not in person.

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 4 months ago | (#47591705)

How long would that take? If it takes longer than a human lifetime for the involved parties, then there's not a problem.

That's a fair question, I don't think there is an exact answer. However, with an experience like that, wherein there is a high expectation that does not match with reality, the human mind is likely to progress through phases much like the stages of grief. Although there is no set time to for a grieving process like that, it seems reasonable that 12 months would be in the upper bound, based upon:

1. A person travelling to Mars would have to have accepted their own death as inevitable (the expected lifespan on Mars being on the order of 24 months)

2. Potentially the person has already said goodbye to the people they love, recognising that neither party will see the other again.

So having commenced on the trip they then discover that in fact, Mars is not the glorious new dawn they expected, and that in fact life on the way there and upon arrival is basically drudgery with nothing too look at and no future to look forward to. This would be a terrible shock, but they haven't long to live anyway, so the grief would likely be intense, but timeboxed. Whether they will have progressed through the stages to acceptance by the time they die (24 months approximately) , and what that acceptance could look like in an environment of social isolation, without hope in the future, and where you've chosen to sacrifice your life for a cause that you now realise is meaningless - we can only speculate.

So why would it be like that? I find the rationalizing behind this argument intriguing. Where else would we "hope" that someone doesn't do something merely because they might not like it?

I'm not entirely sure what you are asking, but I'll try and answer anyway. It's our habit to abstract death away. So people might volunteer for a trip to Mars, having been warned that they will die there either before, or shortly after, arriving. They may abstract away the fact of that, and so might we, the people who remain behind.

However, abstraction and idealism always give way in the face of reality. No matter how idealistic you are, you can't flap your wings and fly. Reality is brutal. And so will the reality of this plan be brutal. As the mission progresses, and the participants face the reality crushing their ideals, they will start to die before our eyes. They will plead for rescue, and we won't send rescue, and we will feel guilt, and they will feel anger and betrayal. They will starve, they will die painfully of radiation sickness, they will die in accidents, asphyxiation, they will commit suicide. And we will watch it all on youtube and on the TV. It will be a bloodbath, and no-one who remembers it will ever advocate going to Mars again.

I think seeing that will set back not just manned attempts but the important stuff, the scientific missions.

You forgot the scare quotes on "important".

Are you saying scientific missions (like Voyager, Cassini Huygens, MESSENGER, Spirit and Opportunity etc etc) are not important? That astronomy is not important? If so, then you are unambiguously, and utterly wrong. If not, then perhaps you should explain yourself.

It won't matter to the navel gazers, if Mars exists or not. A lot of them probably never even saw the place in the sky. The people for whom that science will matter will be the people doing stuff on Mars, not necessarily in person, but not necessarily not in person.

Quite frankly, that makes no sense at all. Who (or what) are these navel gazers? Why would science matter more to people on Mars than it does to people on Earth?

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 4 months ago | (#47592199)

However, with an experience like that, wherein there is a high expectation that does not match with reality, the human mind is likely to progress through phases much like the stages of grief.

Then this is a case of expectation management which is a solved problem. For those who don't choose to solve this particular problem, there's always popcorn.

1. A person travelling to Mars would have to have accepted their own death as inevitable (the expected lifespan on Mars being on the order of 24 months)

Or 50 years, being another number you could have stuffed in there. I really don't see a claim for one or the other being valid in the absence of context.

So having commenced on the trip they then discover that in fact, Mars is not the glorious new dawn they expected, and that in fact life on the way there and upon arrival is basically drudgery with nothing too look at and no future to look forward to.

Or they might not experience that situation.

They will plead for rescue, and we won't send rescue, and we will feel guilt, and they will feel anger and betrayal. They will starve, they will die painfully of radiation sickness, they will die in accidents, asphyxiation, they will commit suicide.

You will feel guilt why? Sounds like the makings of a good reality show. And it'll be a great example for the next shipload of idealists to help with their expectation management.

and no-one who remembers it will ever advocate going to Mars again.

Bullshit. It'll just mean that we'll have to plan next time. I'm fuzzy on why a bad first try will convince us all that it's not worth doing. In most fields of endeavor, instead we would try again, while trying not to repeat the mistakes of past attempts. That's a pretty good approach and it works.

Are you saying scientific missions (like Voyager, Cassini Huygens, MESSENGER, Spirit and Opportunity etc etc) are not important? That astronomy is not important? If so, then you are unambiguously, and utterly wrong. If not, then perhaps you should explain yourself.

Science is not important in itself. It is important because of how it affects our lives and those who use that science down the road. If the only thing that is ever present in space past Earth orbit are a few space probes, then such things will be irrelevant to us on Earth and our lives - unless of course, you happen to be one of the handful of people building or operating the space probe.

Quite frankly, that makes no sense at all. Who (or what) are these navel gazers? Why would science matter more to people on Mars than it does to people on Earth?

The navel gazers are the people whose lives are solely provincial and more or less self-centered. That's most of us, perhaps all of us at one time or another.

As to your second question, because on Mars that science would lead directly to survival and better living conditions. It's like how research on the biological effects of coal dust is more relevant to a coal miner than it is to a beachcomber or a tax accountant. People who live on Mars would be intimately helped by science done on Mars and its environment. But people on Earth would not.

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 4 months ago | (#47592889)

However, with an experience like that, wherein there is a high expectation that does not match with reality, the human mind is likely to progress through phases much like the stages of grief.

Then this is a case of expectation management which is a solved problem.

That, at least is true. If we correctly manage their expectations so that they have a realistic picture of life on Mars, then they won't want to go. Problem solved.

For those who don't choose to solve this particular problem, there's always popcorn.

I find it interesting that you care so much about them going, but don't care at all about their welfare, and indeed, seem happy to exploit their gullibility. Perhaps this is the key difference in our positions - you want to exploit the gullible for your own entertainment, I am not willing to do so.

1. A person travelling to Mars would have to have accepted their own death as inevitable (the expected lifespan on Mars being on the order of 24 months)

Or 50 years, being another number you could have stuffed in there.

Or not, since I didn't just pick a number, a fact that should be obvious to the most casual reader.

I really don't see a claim for one or the other being valid in the absence of context.

If you are ignorant of the reasons why the number is so low, then feel free to ask for the analysis, and if you disagree with that analysis, then argue for why it is wrong. Don't try to argue from ignorance, that is a fallacy.

So having commenced on the trip they then discover that in fact, Mars is not the glorious new dawn they expected, and that in fact life on the way there and upon arrival is basically drudgery with nothing too look at and no future to look forward to.

Or they might not experience that situation.

I forgot to mention that my assumption is that we don't live in a magical fairy land where bad things don't happen. Should have mentioned it.

They will plead for rescue, and we won't send rescue, and we will feel guilt, and they will feel anger and betrayal. They will starve, they will die painfully of radiation sickness, they will die in accidents, asphyxiation, they will commit suicide.

You will feel guilt why?

Because I'm a human and consequently I feel things like compassion and empathy for the suffering of others.

Sounds like the makings of a good reality show.

You find the thought of people suffering and dying on TV entertaining. I see.

Bullshit. It'll just mean that we'll have to plan next time. I'm fuzzy on why a bad first try will convince us all that it's not worth doing.

That problem is easy to diagnose. You lack basic empathy for others, and therefore, cannot judge how people will behave when they act on feelings related to decency and empathy, and responsibility.

Science is not important in itself. It is important because of how it affects our lives and those who use that science down the road. If the only thing that is ever present in space past Earth orbit are a few space probes, then such things will be irrelevant to us on Earth and our lives - unless of course, you happen to be one of the handful of people building or operating the space probe.

Then there is no need for us to spend money sending people to Mars. You can go away satisfied, we'll get on with the science, because unlike you, we find joy and satisfaction in answering the questions that plague us, even when answering those questions has no real impact on you and the things you judge to be important. Whether you know it or not, we live in an amazing universe far greater and more astounding than we can grasp, and learning new things about it is an absolute joy. We are tiny, and that means the percentage information which intersect with our lives is tiny, tiny compare to the whole body of information. Right now, I'm typing on a computer that is made partly of aluminium. You don't know or care where aluminium comes from. I do know. The aluminium I'm touching with my finger was forged in the heart of a dying star that exploded billions of years ago, and scattered it's elements across the galaxy, where the young earth drew it into it's fiery embrace and held it until someone dug it up. Then they made it into a computer, and I type on it. The universe is amazing, I'm amazed and excited by the things we are learning about it, and your views on it are worthless, your notion that only the information that impacts you personally is important is contemptible.

Quite frankly, that makes no sense at all. Who (or what) are these navel gazers? Why would science matter more to people on Mars than it does to people on Earth?

The navel gazers are the people whose lives are solely provincial and more or less self-centered. That's most of us, perhaps all of us at one time or another.

Fascinating. Do you just randomly insert this topic into every conversation or am I just blessed by being subjected to you bizarre and randomised philosophical meanderings about people of whom I know nothing and care even less?

As to your second question, because on Mars that science would lead directly to survival and better living conditions. It's like how research on the biological effects of coal dust is more relevant to a coal miner than it is to a beachcomber or a tax accountant. People who live on Mars would be intimately helped by science done on Mars and its environment. But people on Earth would not.

So, by your reasoning, science should be done on mars by humans because otherwise we would find out things that we wouldn't need to know if we didn't live on Mars? And you see no problem with that reasoning?

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 4 months ago | (#47593081)

That, at least is true. If we correctly manage their expectations so that they have a realistic picture of life on Mars, then they won't want to go. Problem solved.

There's this weird blinder thing going on. Why do you think that will happen? I recall all the bad things you said (such as claiming without justification that one's lifespan on Mars would be 24 months). I get the impression you just hope you're right and that no one goes to Mars and actually has fun.

Because I'm a human and consequently I feel things like compassion and empathy for the suffering of others.

Humans also have a capacity to not feel that stuff. I don't see what's even remotely useful about empathy in a scenario like this where allegedly a bunch of idiots get into epic levels of trouble that no one can bail them out of.

Fascinating. Do you just randomly insert this topic into every conversation or am I just blessed by being subjected to you bizarre and randomised philosophical meanderings about people of whom I know nothing and care even less?

You're one of those people, given your last line about "know nothing and care even less". That's classic navel gazing outlook.

The universe is amazing, I'm amazed and excited by the things we are learning about it, and your views on it are worthless, your notion that only the information that impacts you personally is important is contemptible.

So that's why you wrote:

So having commenced on the trip they then discover that in fact, Mars is not the glorious new dawn they expected, and that in fact life on the way there and upon arrival is basically drudgery with nothing too look at and no future to look forward to.

or

Mars is boring, there's no exciting pioneering life, no fame or fortune. Just drudgery and the fear that food supplies will run out and the water purifier will break.

So is Mars "amazing" or "boring"? Those choices seem mutually exclusive to me. There seems to be a lot of contradictory bullshit in your opinions here.

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 4 months ago | (#47593111)

You might recall having wrote:

And I don't travel on someone else's dime.

I don't mind you being amazed and exploring the universe on your own dime either. But you ignore your own words when you write things like " we'll get on with the science". That science uses other peoples' money. You're not paying for it.

budgets spin-offs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47583709)

I am not saying there's no advantage to space exploration, but I simply wonder why we continue to do these things yet we have a very big [budget] deficit. Why?

If you want to save on the deficit, go after the Pentagon. That's where the meaningful money is. What NASA spends in a year the military spends in a week (or less).

Apart from knowledge of how space works, what has the ordinary American gained from the billions spent on the space program? Can anyone point me to any tangible or intangible goods resulting from space exploration?

Yup: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_spin-off_technologies

Re:Why do we do these things? (1)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | about 4 months ago | (#47586323)

Because being twenty trillion+ in the hole because you spent too much on welfare and robots deployed to other planets is better than being twenty trillion+ in the hole because you pissed it all away on welfare and don't even have any robots to show for it.

Number five is alive! (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | about 4 months ago | (#47581693)

"It's the all-new Johnny Five! Just look at these items! Increased memory: five hundred megabytes on-line! I come with a utility pack and dozens of gadgets for outdoor living, lots of Greenpeace stickers, and even my own Nike swoosh! And, if you act now, I'll throw in, absolutely free, my all-new, multi-frequency remote control!"

Byproduct of CO2 = O ... (1)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about 4 months ago | (#47581885)

Where is the carbon monoxide going to go? If it's to the atmosphere, what's the environmental impact down the road?

Byproduct of CO2 = O ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47582925)

O diatomic so O2 is the stable form, so it would be CO2 -> C + O2. You'd be left with solid carbon.

If That's All They Wanted (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 4 months ago | (#47582061)

Put my cell phone in there. Hell, people are looking at where I'm going and doing using my cell phone. All the interments are already installed. The iPhone6 will be out with Bio-Metrics. All JPL has to do is go over the local Sprint store and get one for free. Why Sprint? Their coverage is pretty good in Indiana, Mars, I think, falls under that category so the the dropped calls shouldn't be a problem.

Who knew (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47582307)

The Sherloc (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals) instrument sounds fascinating.

I always new cheap and tasty chinese noodles would someday make it out of the bowl and to the planets. One small step for Raman. One giant leap for Ramankind!

Re:Who knew (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 4 months ago | (#47583553)

The FSM approves your message. Ramen.

Flying a TECHNOLOGY DEMO? WTH? (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 4 months ago | (#47582539)

I'm just about the spaciest space-nutter around, but why the hell are they spending precious money and opportunity to fly a freaking demonstration instead of another actual observational tool?

Look, we know the composition of Mars' atmosphere. We know how much sunlight falls there, what the temperature range is, and so on. It's dead simple to set up a testbed here on Earth, in a jar, and run the oxygen-production process in the testbed. Better yet, you get to measure its output, tweak its operating parameters, and even do an autopsy on it if something goes wrong.

The only thing I can see us getting out of "make oxygen just like we did before, but ON MARS" is PR, and I don't really see the PR upside. All the science packages that were accepted, and a lot of them that didn't make the cut, would've given us new knowledge about the planet. Why in either world are we sending this package instead?

Re:Flying a TECHNOLOGY DEMO? WTH? (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 4 months ago | (#47586057)

Yup. It is a stupid, idiotic waste of space, but I guess JPL has to give this concession to the manned-space porksters at NASA HQ. You just know that the engineers at JPL are rolling their eyes when presented with this plan. Gawd, when can we get a new administration at NASA and clean out the anti-science, pro-pork, manned spaceflight lobby in the NASA HQ? I would like to see equal representation of the Science directorate in top NASA management, not yet-more ex-pilots.

When are they going to do a return flight? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47582639)

When can we get a Mars landing that will scoop up Martian soil samples and take them back to earth?

You can do a much more extensive analysis with terrestrial labs, and it is a good step towards a human visit to Mars.

MOXIE is a lame and idiotic politcal stunt (2)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 4 months ago | (#47582815)

I am sure the crew at JPL is rolling their eyes about the MOXIE CO2-->O2 "experiment". Here is an experiment that could easily be done at any of, say, a hundred universities here on Earth. What is the point of taking up valuable space, electricity, and engineering effort just to shlepp this stunt to the surface of another world? The point is that JPL was probably forced to do this by the Human-exploration Directorate weasels that run NASA or JPL is doing it to appease them so they don't get their funding cut when their asteroid-capture stunt goes over-budget as it surely will. And why split CO2 for rocket fuel when there is nothing to burn. Wouldn't be easier to split ice/H2O and you get H2 for fuel if you want, but, of course it is harder to gather and purify the ice. But anyway I am all for it if that is what it takes to get another rover to Mars....

Re:MOXIE is a lame and idiotic politcal stunt (1)

Hadlock (143607) | about 4 months ago | (#47583311)

Nobody's landed a MOXIE on Mars before, not one broken or working. Until that happens you can't definitively say "yes you can produce rocket fuel to go back home to Earth with". Once you can say this, the logistics for putting a human on Mars and returning him safely become a realistic goal. Right now it's just a theory.

Re:MOXIE is a lame and idiotic politcal stunt (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 4 months ago | (#47583849)

What's the point of MOXIE? Sending humans to Mars is 100 times the cost of what is in the NASA budget now for Manned spaceflight so it is just not going to happen. Everything on Mars except the low gravity is easily simulate-able on Earth for a fraction of the cost. MOXIE is just plan idiotic. It is just a stunt by the Human Spaceflight Directorate at NASA to get in on the action. They finally realized that the real excitement in spaceflight are the unmanned probes so they want a piece of the action. It was like Bolden sitting at JPL during the MSL landing pretending he had something to do with it. As you know, Carl Sagan started the Planetary Society to stop the Human Spaceflight Directorate types from stealing money from the planetary missions to fuel their bottomless well of cost overruns. Nothing has changed. Bolden tried to kill off planetary missions and had to restore funding after a public outcry. I am sure that NASA's pointless asteriod-capture stunt will be have huge cost overruns and Bolden will use it to try to grab funds from Planetary missions. Look at the SLS and its costs. What is each launch going to cost now? Billions I assume...

Re:MOXIE is a lame and idiotic politcal stunt (1)

Hadlock (143607) | about 4 months ago | (#47587317)

Sure, but it I said, "hey, I found a spare trillion USD in the budget, let's setup a moon base and rotate the crew every 3 months", you would say "ok great, we've proven getting men to the moon and back is a realistic goal". And so it goes. The Russians and the Chinese are both looking at this as something they want to achieve in the next 20 years. It's a proven thing, there's no ifs ands or buts, you can put a man on the moon and bring him home safely.
 
If something goes horribly wrong on the moon, you can send them back in 4 days express mail style. No big deal.
 
It's six+ months to get someone home from Mars, and if something happens en route to mars, you just have to wait, there's no early return. If you find out you have terminal brain cancer three days after you leave earth, you have a full year before you can come home for treatment.
 
But some day we're going to send a man to Mars. Or I will weep for humanity. Hopefully in my lifetime.
 
At some point you have to prove out that it's possible to sustain human life for 6 months, a year, two years on the surface. That needs to happen sooner rather than later. Would you rather send a man to Mars with a system that has 6 months of flight heritage, or one with 12 years flight heritage? Your astronaut has to live for 2 years on the surface. Do you trust the design with 6 months or 12 years testing without failure? There's very little to no free oxygen on Mars. You have to send an oxygen generator there early on. You couldn't sail very far from shore without a reliable way to carry drinking water for 12 hours, 2, 3 days trip. If you can't provide drinking water for a 6 month trip across the atlantic, you're going to be stuck in Europe. You have to prove out the technology at some point.
 
If you don't understand the concept of "flight heritage", don't bother replying.

Re:MOXIE is a lame and idiotic politcal stunt (1)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 4 months ago | (#47588175)

But some day we're going to send a man to Mars. Or I will weep for humanity. Hopefully in my lifetime.

Well, you might need to buy a box of tissues. The fundamental problem with the plan to send a man to mars still remains, and until that is solved, nobody is going to Mars in person. The problem? We simply aren't interested enough to invest the money and energy to do it. The reason is that the future of space travel lies with machines, whereas human space travel lies in the past. We all know it, we've known it for years. Manned space travel is like restoring steam trains these days. Sure, there's a few enthusiasts. But few people ride in steam trains, and few ever will, except for the purposes of nostalgia.

At some point you have to prove out that it's possible to sustain human life for 6 months, a year, two years on the surface

No, we don't have to do that.

Would you rather send a man to Mars with a system that has 6 months of flight heritage, or one with 12 years flight heritage?

I choose neither.

There's very little to no free oxygen on Mars. You have to send an oxygen generator there early on.

Machines don't need oxygen. Problem solved.

Re:MOXIE is a lame and idiotic politcal stunt (1)

Hadlock (143607) | about 4 months ago | (#47589313)

Both Russia and China have reaffirmed their plans to go to Mars. Just this week Russia announced that they were building a new super heavy lift rocket for such a purpose. Since those are the only two countries with human spaceflight programs currently, they're the most likely to accomplish these goals. I would no longer count on the United States to lead the way here.

Re:MOXIE is a lame and idiotic politcal stunt (1)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 4 months ago | (#47592165)

Do you think that these are likely to be more than stunts?

I can't of course judge their motivation. But they do seem most inclined to use space technology as a symbol of the status of their respective nations (much as the US once did with Apollo). This being the case then it seems likely that - if they ever go to Mars - these efforts will be abandoned shortly after reaching the first milestone.

Re:MOXIE is a lame and idiotic politcal stunt (3, Interesting)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 4 months ago | (#47584115)

Absolutely everything in space travel is about 'legacy' - "has this part, flown and operated, in an actual space mission before?"

Everything about space travel requires testing because you can't properly test anything on Earth. Not really, not as good as actually sending it up there and checking it works in the real environment. One of the fun things people do with Cubesats at the moment is build them with all sorts of random components, because a cubesat is so cheap you can afford and expect to lose it, but if it works, you can put a big tick on "yep, operates for X hours in low earth orbit".

You absolutely would not want to send a CO2 -> O2 device to Mars, to supply humans with O2, that has never been into space or onto Mars before. Do we truly understand Martian dust environments? Chemistry at extended periods of time (months) of catalysts at low pressure/temperature?

Developing the space legacy of components like that (and it's not just a CO2 -> O2 converter it will be many individual component designs) is staggeringly important. Not to mention, that it means in the future you can more reliably design experiments to go to Mars which depend on an oxidizing atmosphere, if you can reliably make it and purify it in situ. But you wouldn't want to put a chain of stuff like that on a probe, and then discover none of it will work because your oxygen maker breaks down after a few hours.

MOXIE is a lame and idiotic politcal stunt (1)

HemoGoocheJPL (3772535) | about 4 months ago | (#47586377)

I am a 21 year employee at JPL. I can say that the scientists, engineers, technicians, and managers who have discussed MOXIE with me this past year have never voiced anything negative. JPL has a highly entrepreneurial workforce. Almost 90% of the scientists work on competitively awarded proposals. If you don't win you don't have a job ... it's that simple. There are significant technologies within MOXIE that these scientists have worked their entire careers to get into spaceflight. Have some respect. Sheesh! Wipe the water off from behind your ears little one.

Re:MOXIE is a lame and idiotic politcal stunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47587131)

And don't forget, to be successful, little one, it helps to have your cadre of congress critters lined up behind you too.

Re:MOXIE is a lame and idiotic politcal stunt (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 4 months ago | (#47589055)

Which experiment got bumped in favor of MOXIE?

Re:MOXIE is a lame and idiotic politcal stunt (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 4 months ago | (#47590047)

I have tremendous respect for JPL and if the JPL crew is enthusiastic about MOXIE then I withdraw my objections to it. But couldn't you simulate the high-G launch and EDL with a centrifuge and simulate the radiation exposure and low atmospheric pressure here on earth? OK, I guess it is not the same as the real thing and it will be good for publicity so OK...

Why mars again? Why not doing a lunar base? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47583307)

A lunar base could give much more marketing to space exploration...

Ooh! Ohh! Ohh! (1)

NetNinja (469346) | about 4 months ago | (#47584667)

I have the perfect landing spot!

The cydonia region! What and exciting and interesting rock formation!

A Great Day (1)

HemoGoocheJPL (3772535) | about 4 months ago | (#47586423)

Long time lurker on Slashdot and while many times I've fretted and wondered about posting something, it's never risen above the threshold. For Mars2020 though, I'm "rocketing" through that barrier. I spent half of last year in a room with four other great scientists writing one of the proposals and then sweating out another six months waiting to hear yesterday that we won. I am not the Principal or Deputy PI for this instrument, but I have been for ISS instruments. To be a part of a planetary mission is incredibly special.

Dig? (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 4 months ago | (#47586759)

No tool to dig the ground? If there is life on Mars it is probably below the surface.

Re:Dig? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47587123)

I was thinking the same thing. I had a friend working on a drill in about 2000 and, though I don't remember the details exactly, they believed they'd be able to hit a depth of like 60m in a package sized for a rover. Seems to me that now that we have a decade of high-resolution shots from an orbiter, maybe the mere surface of the planet isn't as potentially game-changing as what's below.

Re:Dig? (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 4 months ago | (#47590053)

There will be a core-ing tool, at least.
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