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Mars Rover Perseverance Landing... and continuing...

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
So here's the issue. The moon landing was in 1969. We can't even do that today if we wanted. I remember Obama saying during his presidency that he'd like to see us get to the moon in a few decades. How can the tech to have done this in the 1960s have regressed so far that we can't do it now ... easily?

Because we stopped. We no longer have the facilities and tooling. While we have the plans for the Saturn V (the only rocket to take people out of low Earth orbit), the manufacturing processes for some of the parts have been lost to time. To recreate a Saturn V, we'd need to figure out how to make them again with sufficient quality.

From there, there are two reasons why we have lost the capability - one is that, due to the perceived high costs in both money and lives, NASA has been forced to become extremely risk-averse. If NASA missions fail, it becomes a point of politics, not of science and engineering. The other is that there is no such thing as a "general purpose rocket", and there are no general purpose rocket parts. In order to design a launch system, you have to define the requirements that system must meet. And, again due to politics, NASA has not been allowed to settle on what missions their next heavy launch vehicle is supposed to serve.

Between the risk aversion, and not knowing what the mission is, development on a new system is extremely slow. Compared to, say, Space X, which has no issues if their test vehicles blow up, so long as the result is a reliable flight. They get to revel in and learn from mistakes in a way NASA cannot.
 

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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I've heard this rover is also set up to better detect signs that life existed in the past. That also sets it apart from all prior rovers.

Yes. Curiosity was designed to look for evidence fo water (past and present), explore geology, and generally help figure out if its landign site ever had cnditions suitable for life. Perseverance is more loaded out to seek out more direct evidence of past life, along with a few forward-looking experiments (sample return and the Ingenuity helicopter, for example).
 

Ryujin

Hero
I've worked in government since the 1990s, so I can attest to this.
However, NASA is also a government agency, so you're also saying that you think they could do all of these same tasks to send a man to the moon with the computing power of a calculator in the 1960s. I have my doubts they could've done it then (or now).
The old adage that, "Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead" is close to being accurate. I was a kid during the original Apollo missions and, despite being Canadian, the whole school would turn out to watch. We watched the first moon landing on a half a dozen TV sets, in the gymnasium.

In total there are 3 retroreflector arrays that were placed on the moon, by Apollo 11, 14, and 15. Want to see if someone has been to the moon? If you know someone with a sufficiently powerful astronomical laser, just bounce a pulse off one of them.


It's not the technology that we lack, for going back to the moon. It's the will. NASA was getting major, serious budgets in the 1960s, because of the Space Race and Kennedy's speech. These days, if they could justify spending the money, India could put a man on the moon. Private corporations are putting people in low orbit, with an eye toward following Hauser's advice from "Total Recall."
 



mars_landing_video.png
 

First, I'm not saying that we definitely didn't go. I'm saying that if it came out that it was hoaxed, I'd simply shrug and say, "I'm not surprised. The whole thing seemed a little fishy anyway."
So here's the issue. The moon landing was in 1969. We can't even do that today if we wanted. I remember Obama saying during his presidency that he'd like to see us get to the moon in a few decades. How can the tech to have done this in the 1960s have regressed so far that we can't do it now ... easily?
We haven't been back since the early 1970s. It was exciting for a few years, and we just never cared again? All of a sudden?
We would have had every reason to lie about it. We were at the height of the space race of the Cold War and the Soviets had beaten America on nearly every front.
I'm not saying it was a lie. Just saying I wouldn't be surprised.
moon_landing.png
 

Retreater

Legend
My casual research seems to indicate that GPS technology came from NASA, so I'd say that is a big accomplishment. I'd put that above Velcro, Tang, or the Mars rovers.
Likely, like many of you, I wasn't around to have memories of any great successes from the space program. The first notice I gave it was when I watched in school the Challenger disaster, live on television, after we had followed the project for months. And then the shuttle program failed on live TV with the Columbia disaster, which was a day I was getting together with some of my friends for a game of D&D.
Witnessing these events with my peers had a heightened effect on me. To me, it's hard to see that anything that we've discovered has really been worth it.
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
My casual research seems to indicate that GPS technology came from NASA, so I'd say that is a big accomplishment. I'd put that above Velcro, Tang, or the Mars rovers.

Velcro, and Tang were used by the space program, but not developed by them.

Witnessing these events with my peers had a heightened effect on me. To me, it's hard to see that anything that we've discovered has really been worth it.

So, as of 2020, there have been a total of 30 people, worldwide, who have lost their lives in activities related to spaceflight - this includes actual launches and in training and testing exercises.

What nobody has likely ever done is shown you what those 30 deaths have gotten us.

Here's one: the bioreactor. It was originally designed to grow cells in a closed, zero G environment for experiments. Today, lifesaving drugs are produced by microbes grown in bioreactors. Countless people are alive today due to the drugs made in, and the research performed with, bioreactors.

Here's another cool spinoff - the most common breathing apparatus used today by firefighters would not be possible without an aluminum composite material NASA developed for rocket casings.

In Tokyo and San Francisco, buildings are constructed with giant shock absorbers to help them withstand earthquakes. Those shock absorbers were first designed to safely remove fuel and electrical connectors from the Space Shuttle during launch.

The FDA guidelines that currently keep your seafood, juices, and dairy products safe are based in guidelines created by Pillsbury for handling and preventing contamination of foods going into space.
 

I'm not trying to troll or criticize anyone's interest, but I'm left wondering what the point of this is. Haven't we had rovers on Mars for the past 40 years (or longer)?

This sort of incredible short sightedness is baffling and frustrating. Some of the greatest scientiffic accomplishments came from unexpected places. If we stopped every time someone said "What is the point?", we'd never learn anything.

This mission and the ones to follow, can lead to groundbreaking new technology that could severely impact all our lives for decades to come.

Landing on Mars is very difficult. NASA is the only organisation able to do it consistently, which is an incredible feat of engineering. Most of the Russian and Chinese missions to Mars have been failures. But NASA has now managed to land a rover on Mars several times, and twice using an ai driven skycrane system. That technology alone is a scientiffic breakthrough. Ai driven aircrafts are the future.

This mission will do something that none other has done before; to collect samples on Mars, and with a follow up mission (with the aid of ESA) return them to earth. We can do a lot more research in our labs on earth if we can retrieve those samples.

Also, do not underestimate the importance of the first sound recording on Mars. This is history in the making. You may be easily fooled into thinking it is but a boring recording of a minor windgust, but it is so much more. Being able to hear during space missions may change how we do space missions from now on. All future rovers may be equiped with a microphone now.
 

Horwath

Hero
Viking 1 landed in 1976, so well over 40 years since we've sent instruments to gather scientific data from Mars.
The whole thing just seems pretty expensive for a glorified science fair experiment, which has so far produced tech we could have developed on earth, with no real world applications while we destroy our planet, people are suffering without access to vital resources.
oh FFS,

I dont want to be rude, but if you want to whine about money being dropped in the toilet, NASA is hardy a good target.

Go after billions in tax brakes and donations to various religious cults, trillions in military budget that is more or less now armed security for oil drilling and multiple Wall street bailouts.

NASA's budget was divided by 9 since 60s. They get less than half a penny to a dollar of federal budget.
 

I'd also like to point out that the last couple of Mars missions by NASA are still ongoing. The fact that this technology lasts for several years under the harsh weather conditions on Mars, is incredibly cost effective and an accomplishment on its own. The Mars orbiter is still assisting in the communication between this and future rovers, and earth. The previous rover is also still in operation.

People who think these sorts of missions are without merit, have learned nothing from our long history of scientiffic discoveries. And worse, they lack the imagination to dream.

But I am a proud dreamer, and I believe the future depicted in shows like Star Trek or the Expanse is not outside our reach. If history has shown us anything, it's that with enough willpower we can do anything. Yes, even put a man on the moon.
 

Horwath

Hero
Because we stopped. We no longer have the facilities and tooling. While we have the plans for the Saturn V (the only rocket to take people out of low Earth orbit), the manufacturing processes for some of the parts have been lost to time. To recreate a Saturn V, we'd need to figure out how to make them again with sufficient quality.

From there, there are two reasons why we have lost the capability - one is that, due to the perceived high costs in both money and lives, NASA has been forced to become extremely risk-averse. If NASA missions fail, it becomes a point of politics, not of science and engineering. The other is that there is no such thing as a "general purpose rocket", and there are no general purpose rocket parts. In order to design a launch system, you have to define the requirements that system must meet. And, again due to politics, NASA has not been allowed to settle on what missions their next heavy launch vehicle is supposed to serve.

Between the risk aversion, and not knowing what the mission is, development on a new system is extremely slow. Compared to, say, Space X, which has no issues if their test vehicles blow up, so long as the result is a reliable flight. They get to revel in and learn from mistakes in a way NASA cannot.
I agree 99% with you, except the bolded part.
NASA didn't suffer "The burning of library of Alexandria". They KNOW how to make Saturn V. And they can make it if needed in one year or less.
But, simply there is not interest as there is no money for it.
As I stated in my last post, in mid-60s, NASA budget was near 4,5% of federal budget and they could literally burn money. Now they have 9X less and the have to weight in every mission for possible benefit and linked costs.

If NASA had 5% federal budget from 60s till today, we would have people on Mars already. Maybe they would have died or have a much larger risk from cancer because of radiation, but we would have seen that leap in exploration.

Damn the Soviets and their failed Luna project. If they landed on Moon in 1970, space race would have continued towards Mars.

EDIT: and don't get me started on James Webb Space Telescope, which now after 10 years of delaying, finally has finalized most final of final launch date of 31.10.2021.
Until it gets delayed again for next final launch day...
 
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As I stated in my last post, in mid-60s, NASA budget was near 4,5% of federal budget and they could literally burn money. Now they have 9X less and the have to weight in every mission for possible benefit and linked costs.

It is so frustrating. The USA invests so much of its money on the military, which is like a bottomless moneypit. Imagine if even half of that money was invested in space exploration. Where could we be?

But many people are unable to look beyond their own horizons, and only ask what will this do for me right now? I wish people had a different perspective.
 

Retreater

Legend
You know if we weren't in the middle of a global pandemic, through which America has suffered more deaths than any other nation, I'd be more likely to see the merit in "exploration for the fun of it." If we didn't have failing schools, a crumbling infrastructure, declining life expectancies, inadequate healthcare, and just generally a lower standard of living than the rest of the developed world, maybe I'd agree.
Put great minds to work on that kind of stuff.
 

Ryujin

Hero
You know if we weren't in the middle of a global pandemic, through which America has suffered more deaths than any other nation, I'd be more likely to see the merit in "exploration for the fun of it." If we didn't have failing schools, a crumbling infrastructure, declining life expectancies, inadequate healthcare, and just generally a lower standard of living than the rest of the developed world, maybe I'd agree.
Put great minds to work on that kind of stuff.
Space exploration, especially manned space exploration, has yielded many medical advances. It's not wasted money, even in times such as these.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
NASA didn't suffer "The burning of library of Alexandria". They KNOW how to make Saturn V. And they can make it if needed in one year or less.

The #1 reason arguments start on this site is that people overstate another's position for effect. You may get away with it with other folks, but not with me.

No, NASA didn't have a burning of the library of Alexandria. That indicates a loss of nearly everything, and I made no such suggestion. Your statement here may seem poetic, but is a gross misrepresentation. Ironic that something so inaccurate is in a science-themed thread.

The missing information isn't NASA's. The specifications of all the parts is known, yes. However, the methods used to create some of the parts was not recorded by the manufacturers, who were, I must reiterate, not NASA proper. The program was never intended to create a model of rocket that NASA would use for decades into the future. So, there wasn't a drive to collect such information (which would have been a hassle, as in some cases it was apparently proprietary, not industry-standard practice). This was especially true in some of the materials for seals and other non-metal parts, where chemistry matters so much.
 

You know if we weren't in the middle of a global pandemic, through which America has suffered more deaths than any other nation, I'd be more likely to see the merit in "exploration for the fun of it." If we didn't have failing schools, a crumbling infrastructure, declining life expectancies, inadequate healthcare, and just generally a lower standard of living than the rest of the developed world, maybe I'd agree.
Put great minds to work on that kind of stuff.

None of those issues require great minds. They require a desire to make it happen, and the voice of the people to protest the current system.

Besides, do you really think anyone at NASA is trying to put a rover on Mars because it is just fun to do so? Do you think they are having a derby along with the previous rover on the surface of Mars? We explore Mars, because there is a large gap in our knowledge about space and our own universe. Filling that gap, will yield a lot of knowledge and many advancements in technology that are currently hard to predict, but which you and I will reap the benefits of.

Space exploration is one of the few areas of science where humanity is able to overcome their differences and work together, for the benefit of all mankind.
 

Arilyn

Hero
You know if we weren't in the middle of a global pandemic, through which America has suffered more deaths than any other nation, I'd be more likely to see the merit in "exploration for the fun of it." If we didn't have failing schools, a crumbling infrastructure, declining life expectancies, inadequate healthcare, and just generally a lower standard of living than the rest of the developed world, maybe I'd agree.
Put great minds to work on that kind of stuff.
What good does NASA do? If you want to totally ignore their accomplishments:

NASA employs 17,000 people, and supports 312,000 jobs nationwide. They generated 64.3 billion total economic output in the fiscal year 2019. NASA generates 7 billion in federal, state and local taxes.
 

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