View Full Version : Discussion: Next Up, Mars Science Laboratory

2005-Apr-14, 04:56 PM
SUMMARY: While Spirit and Opportunity could still be scouring the Red Planet in a few years, they'll be joined by a new partner: the Mars Science Laboratory. Schedule for launch in 2009, this mission will deliver a rover three times as large as the current rovers to the surface of Mars. It will have a suite of scientific instruments including the ChemCam: a powerful laser that will allow it to vapourize and analyze rock from 10 metres (33 feet away). And since it'll be powered by a radioactive powerplant, it won't need to rely on feeble solar power for energy.

View full article (http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/next_chance_life_mars.html)

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John L
2005-Apr-14, 07:06 PM
The LIBS instrument sounds great. I can't wait to see the results from this mission. As it is supposed to be nuclear powered I wonder how long it will last. The solar only rovers have topped 450 days each and are still going strong.

And I wonder where on Mars they'll send the MSL. Maybe to that equitorial region where the Mars Express found the ice???

2005-Apr-14, 07:26 PM
What other instruments are they going to have aboard the MSL beside the ChemCam? What are they going to use the ChemCam for?

2005-Apr-14, 09:12 PM
Jeez, by 2020 we'll have 15 rovers, all prancing around the surface of Mars. :rolleyes:

2005-Apr-15, 12:33 AM
During the cold war the Military created runways that you can roll out onto any flat surface in case airports where bombed and fighters needed a place to land.
Should the next mission be equipped with this kind of equipment to pave the way for further landing on the planet, I do understand that the air is lot thinner on Mars
and your will not be able to flight a plan on mars with the same that it is on earth.. a small Air rover maybe can be included in the Lander, to do experiments..
Again I have no Idea of all the problems the NASA team faces and I don't completely know what is possible and what isn't.... but shouldn't we try and establish base first
and pave the way for maned missions... wouldn't be better to make every launch count and send as much as possible in the one go..
eg, create several Lander in the one mission... use the space station as a storage centre for all those Landers and when the mother ship is ready for the Journey it can tow as many Landers as possible, I Know mass is linked to propulsion, and decelerating a larger mass is more difficult that small one however, I think our vector scientist can easily compensate for that problem.

2005-Apr-15, 04:45 AM
A flyer would be cool. especially if it could pick up and drop off rovers at areas of interest.

2005-Apr-15, 06:55 AM
I think some guys (NASA?) were considering a flyer mission to Mars, but it should be some sort of baloon rather than a fixed wing/obviously rocket-powered (which means short-lived) flyer...maybe if rovers themselves would be equipped with some self-inflatable and deflatable baloon and something to extract light gasses from soil or atmosphere, that would be quite reasonable solution of transport over land..

about that radioactive plant....I know that energetical independence on external enviroment is very attractive, but isn't it a bit risky for the Mars enviroment?

2005-Apr-15, 01:58 PM
Originally posted by Lamahe@Apr 15 2005, 06:55 AM
that radioactive plant... isn't it a bit risky for the Mars enviroment?
What the generator is is a lump of Plutonium in a sealed container that is giving off lots of Alpha particles with an 88 year half-life. These alphas do not make it outside the cannister, but heat up the insides. This thing generates heat, which is converted to electricity. This is probably converted using a large number thermocouples. It might be the new more efficient version using lots of little Stirling engines.

This device will not end up contaominating the atmosphere or groundwater on Mars. The bigger (but still tiny) threat is that the rocket will CATO on takeoff in such a way as to disrupt the canister in the Earth's atmosphere. This was the big worry with Cassini (that, and the possible bad miss in the Earth slingshot fly-by).

2005-Apr-15, 08:25 PM
Originally posted by StarLab@Apr 14 2005, 09:12 PM
Jeez, by 2020 we'll have 15 rovers, all prancing around the surface of Mars. :rolleyes:
We're sending out more rovers to mars after the MSL? We'll be populating mars w/robots...wow :mellow:

2005-Apr-18, 12:36 AM
Nasa are going to be sending lot of missions to mars, Best is that every mission is linked to another and they are systematic into building a base or a landing stripe...
so if anyone at NASA is reading this please tell us what is the long term plan if there is one...
If there isn't maybe we should have one in place,,, and I know the biggest problem is getting a budget approved for a long term comittment like that with unstability of politics in the US.. so the long term plan has to be disguised as series of short term project......