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After Victoria..., .. what next?
Stu
post May 30 2007, 07:36 AM
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Don't underestimate the value of "pretty pictures" Alan... useful science is the main aim, sure, but it's the "pretty pictures" that make the magazine covers, TV news programmes and newspapers and get the public excited about space exploration enough to cough up the money that allows the scientists to do the useful science inbetween camera clicks.

I think the pics of Tvashtar billowing up above Io, which were adored around the world, proved that only recently... wink.gif


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djellison
post May 30 2007, 07:42 AM
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BUT - there is a point at which there would be criticism for just taking pretty pictures and not doing science smile.gif

Doug
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climber
post May 30 2007, 07:44 AM
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I understand the wish of engeneers to see how the old hardware as behaved.
I thing personaly that we'd better look into the future and use Oppy as another engeneering tester : drive like mad using her software to help future rovers, like MSL. By doing so, we can even imagine more software improvments along the road. As Doug says, we're currently at a mean of 10m/Sol. Can't we drive totaly blind for, say, 10 sols and then assess what has happened? Will we end up will a 10 m drive on the first sol and then get Oppy waiting for more instructions to get out of a trap? Will we end up 1 m to the original target? Will she find solutions we'd not imagined?
I agree that it's not science anymore but didn't John Young did this kind of tests on the Moon?


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Toma B
post May 30 2007, 07:45 AM
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That is why we love MERs so much...there are both science and pretty pictures. Something for everybody.


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The scientist does not study nature because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful.
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My "Astrophotos" gallery on flickr...
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Stu
post May 30 2007, 08:03 AM
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QUOTE (djellison @ May 30 2007, 08:42 AM) *
BUT - there is a point at which there would be criticism for just taking pretty pictures and not doing science smile.gif

Doug


True. I wasn't suggesting a Tourism Rover would be a good idea... it would be a stoopid idea actually, all that way just to take pictures; not even I would go for that... I was making the general point that while pictures are probably seen as the cream on the pint of Guinness for scientists, for most of the public and many space enthusiasts they're the tastiest part of the pint. smile.gif

I can do fantastic Outreach with a picture of Oppy sat on the edge of Victoria Crater. A graph showing concentrations of minerals in a rock isn't quite so inspiring to a church hall full of Women's Institute members or Girl Guides or Scouts. tongue.gif


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djellison
post May 30 2007, 08:06 AM
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In the context of Opportunity - a trip to Ithaca would be as much as 5 years of not-very-pretty-pictures-at-all smile.gif

Doug
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post May 30 2007, 08:07 AM
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QUOTE (climber @ May 30 2007, 07:44 AM) *
Can't we drive totaly blind for, say, 10 sols and then assess what has happened?
I prefer and think that they use a replica on earth to test the software that is responsible for the driving.
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ustrax
post May 30 2007, 10:01 AM
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QUOTE (djellison @ May 29 2007, 06:50 PM) *
A brutal realist - that's all.

It is a very romantic notion - but one that should remain within our imaginations, unless HiRISE shows little short of a paved highway leading the way there. Don't get me wrong - I would love Opportunity to be able to get there - I just see little evidence that it would be able to.


Doug, altough it may not seem like that I can be quite realist too...and trust me I don't get you wrong, I completely understand your arguments and EVEN agree with them... wink.gif
It is far and it is hard, but one thing for sure...it is THERE... smile.gif


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climber
post May 30 2007, 10:11 AM
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QUOTE (ustrax @ May 30 2007, 12:01 PM) *
Doug, altough it may not seem like that I can be quite realist too...and trust me I don't get you wrong, I completely understand your arguments and EVEN agree with them... wink.gif
It is far and it is hard, but one thing for sure...it is THERE... smile.gif

I agree with you, M. Mallory wink.gif


"I prefer and think that they use a replica on earth to test the software that is responsible for the driving"
Zoost, Yes...and No. unsure.gif


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djellison
post May 30 2007, 10:30 AM
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QUOTE (ustrax @ May 30 2007, 11:01 AM) *
but one thing for sure...it is THERE... smile.gif


So is Olympus Mons....when do we start driving? ph34r.gif Sure - it's a long way but...it is THERE.

Who knows - maybe we can find somewhere to set a new speed record (>220m/sol) - but that route to the SE just looks NASTY.

Doug
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ustrax
post May 30 2007, 11:04 AM
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QUOTE (djellison @ May 30 2007, 11:30 AM) *
So is Olympus Mons....when do we start driving? ph34r.gif


Doug...be reasonable... tongue.gif

There is a route that could ease Oppy's way, if we consider that the terrain nearer craters, such as Victoria's apron can be done with no major risk of incidents, then the rover might connect the dots...there are three craters similar to Victoria on the way, if we count with theirs aprons and with the first stretch covering an area where there seems to be considerable areas of rocky ground.
So we would have plenty science to be done on the way...of course that would make Oppy set foot on Ithaca's ground around 2017... wink.gif

Attached Image

Thanks babakm!


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Stephen
post May 30 2007, 11:08 AM
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QUOTE (djellison @ May 29 2007, 03:03 AM) *
Unless I see images of that very large crater to the ESE making an EXCELLENT case for going there and HiRISE images documenting the entire route showing it to be in any way feasable - I can see no point in trying to get there when all current indicators suggest it would be a not much more than a suicide mission into a dune field we would never leave.

A crater which a rover can never leave is surely as much of a suicide mission as a dune field it cannot leave, even if the useful science takes a little longer to run out at one than the other.

Or for that matter a crater whose vicinity it can never leave (without "an EXCELLENT case for going [elsew]here" and "HiRISE images documenting the entire route") for fear of falling into another Purgatory-style trap.

QUOTE (djellison @ May 30 2007, 03:50 AM) *
Taking Endurance to Victoria (including it's two halts for technical problems etc ) it's a commitment of about 5 years driving. There's not point doing the "100m a sol x Y days = X metres a week" maths - it doesn't work. It never really has apart from primary missions on easy driving ground.

Gee, Doug, it's a good thing poor Opportunity can't hear you writing the poor thing off like that. rolleyes.gif

I prefer to think of it as following in the footsteps of other five year plans of exploration...
"Mars...the final frontier.
These are the voyages of the Space Rover Opportunity.
It's five year mission:
To explore strange new rocks...
To seek out new sediments and new craters...
To boldly go where no rover has gone before." biggrin.gif

QUOTE (djellison @ May 30 2007, 06:06 PM) *
In the context of Opportunity - a trip to Ithaca would be as much as 5 years of not-very-pretty-pictures-at-all smile.gif

On the other hand, to quote a cliche, nothing ventured nothing gained .

By which I mean that if way back at Opportunity's days at Endurance you knew about those dune fields to the south and the possibility if not probability of the rover getting trapped in a Purgatory would you have been arguing for Opportunity to potter around Endurance instead for the remainder of its days instead of venturing south to Victoria?

The possibility that Opportunity MIGHT get stuck again is (IMHO) surely not in itself a reason for not going to new places to see what science it can do there, any more than the possibility of death was a reason for polar explorers like Amundsen, Scott, and Shackleton to stay away from the deadly hazards of Antarctica.

Are we to start treating Opportunity like a cosseted child wrapped in proverbial cottonwool to protect it from the hazards of life (on Mars)? It's prime mission is long over. Way way over in fact! It is now into extra time. I'd have thought this should be the period when its masters can start to be a little more adventurous with it than they were able to back in its prime mission days. (Plus I also have faith in the ability of its engineers to get it out of seemingly inextricable situations, unlike ye of lesser faith. wink.gif )

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Stu
post May 30 2007, 11:23 AM
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I think most people here know just how much I live and breathe this stuff, so they'll know how it sadens me to say that striking out for Ithaca would be very bold and noble, and in the 'spirit of exploration' but I think it would be pretty pointless. It hurts me to sound so defeatist, but I just can't see the point, it's a waste of systems and scientific opportunities. Going to Ithaca would mean a journey of - IO think we're all agreed - several years, and those years would be filled with day after day after yawning day of almost unchanging scenery... dunes stretching off to the horizon in an endless sea of ripples, each dune a potential Purgatory... a few rocks here and there, probably meteorites too... sol rise after sol set with nothing new of any note to see or examine... and every sol the chance of a wheel failing, or a system breaking, or a software problem occurring, would grow larger. And all the time the mountainous rim of Ithaca would stubbornly refuse to grow any bigger up ahead. Poor Oppy would be stuck in a Star Trek Voyager scenario... a looooooooong journey to get to anywhere, with death a constant threat, but without the gorgeous Borg in a sprayed-on uniform and the so-annoying-you-could-strangle-him alien cook. wink.gif

Remember the UMSF journey south to Victoria? How we picked up on every hint of a feature on the horizon and obsessed about it for days and weeks? How Doug came close to hiring hitmen to shut some people up? Now, imagine that for FOUR YEARS as Oppy trudges south... arguments over a dozen different beacons... frustration over unchanging scenery after Oppy gets stuck in one dune after another... boredom setting in (and it would, come on, you know it would! I love Mars, but 4 years of dunes would be too much) with week after week of the same scenery...

No. Ithaca would be a great prize (actually, as I type that I'm not so sure about that: it's so big, it would dwarf Victoria, we could only ever hope to see a small portion of it up close, and the far rim would be so far away it would look just like very small mountains on the horizon... hardly a target rich zone for pretty pictures... and it looks so old and weathered that surely the rocks we could study have been eroded greatly... no, I'm not sure it is a great prize...) but there comes a point where someone, somewhere, will have to say "Okay, we've done all we can, but we've nowhere else to go. We plan a long observation mission here, where we are."


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ustrax
post May 30 2007, 11:32 AM
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QUOTE (Stephen @ May 30 2007, 12:08 PM) *
By which I mean that if way back at Opportunity's days at Endurance you knew about those dune fields to the south and the possibility if not probability of the rover getting trapped in a Purgatory would you have been arguing for Opportunity to potter around Endurance instead for the remainder of its days instead of venturing south to Victoria?


Stephen...you got me all emotional, standing up and applauding histerically your entire post! laugh.gif
As it goes on an old Portuguese saying...To backwards urinates the she-donkey... rolleyes.gif


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Stu
post May 30 2007, 11:53 AM
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Admit it ustrax, you just made that 'old saying' up! tongue.gif


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