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NASA's Mars rover Curiosity sidelined again after experiencing new problem
foxnews ^ | March 18, 2013

Posted on 03/19/2013 9:08:18 AM PDT by BenLurkin

After recovering from a computer problem, the Mars rover Curiosity is sidelined again, further delaying the restart of science experiments.

The latest complication occurred over the weekend when the six-wheel rover entered safe mode after experiencing a software file error.

'We would definitely like to get over this and get back to doing something.'

- Project manager Richard Cook

Curiosity remained in contact with ground controllers, but it can't zap rocks, snap pictures or roam around until the problem is fixed. Rover team members had expected to resume activities Monday, but they now have to wait a bit longer — perhaps until the end of the week.

"We would definitely like to get over this and get back to doing something," said project manager Richard Cook of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which operates the $2.5 billion mission.

Studies at the Gale Crater landing site have been on hold since the beginning of March after engineers discovered a problem with Curiosity's computer memory, possibly caused by space radiation

(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.com ...


TOPICS: Astronomy; Science
KEYWORDS: curiosityrover; mars
possibly caused by space radiation???
1 posted on 03/19/2013 9:08:18 AM PDT by BenLurkin
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To: BenLurkin

There is a lot more radiation that makes it to the surface of Mars than here, due to our atmosphere and stronger magnetic field.


2 posted on 03/19/2013 9:10:45 AM PDT by Secret Agent Man (I can neither confirm or deny that; even if I could, I couldn't - it's classified.)
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To: Secret Agent Man

need more tin foil


3 posted on 03/19/2013 9:12:30 AM PDT by al baby (Hi Mom)
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To: Secret Agent Man

Hard to understand how the shielding could have been inadequate, along with strategies to recover from memory errors.


4 posted on 03/19/2013 9:13:26 AM PDT by steve86 (Acerbic by Nature, not Nurture™)
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To: BenLurkin

Did anyone check the measurement units to see if the calculations reflected USEngineering or metric?


5 posted on 03/19/2013 9:14:02 AM PDT by Cletus.D.Yokel (*Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Alteration: The acronym explains the science.)
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To: Secret Agent Man

Turns out that the amount of radiation reaching the surface is considerably less than they expected. One of the earliest findings from this rover was that the radiation at surface level was comparable to what our astronauts experience on the space station.

I’m assuming the damage was likely done in transit.


6 posted on 03/19/2013 9:14:47 AM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: al baby

The Martians disabled it so we would have to go fix it. Their idea if a practical joke...; )


7 posted on 03/19/2013 9:15:52 AM PDT by jsanders2001
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To: BenLurkin

I know. ‘Space radiation’. Space radiates, you know. Gotta love journalism.

The engineers KNEW they were going to a planet that had no magnetosphere. Moreover, you can test for this. You can actually create a lab environment where the vehicle has to perform under these conditions, and for extended lengths of time.

I’ve been studying the correlation between planetoids with magnetic fields and the observation of lightning on the planetoids.


8 posted on 03/19/2013 9:18:07 AM PDT by RinaseaofDs
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To: cripplecreek

Interesting. I do know they have special shielded closet they get into when a bad solar flare(s) are detected.


9 posted on 03/19/2013 9:21:00 AM PDT by Secret Agent Man (I can neither confirm or deny that; even if I could, I couldn't - it's classified.)
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To: jsanders2001
"OK,now get it to fire that laser thing again."


10 posted on 03/19/2013 9:21:58 AM PDT by UCANSEE2 (The monsters are due on Maple Street)
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To: Secret Agent Man

It sucks that mars is so far away. It would be technically much easier to colonize on mars than the moon but the amount of time spent in open space makes it more dangerous to get there.

A martian day is comparable to earth. There is at least some atmosphere so suits and habitats could be built for minimum pressurization. Daytime temperatures can be warm enough to require minimal heating.


11 posted on 03/19/2013 9:28:08 AM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: RinaseaofDs

“Space radiation” is the correct term, though sometimes you see “space weather”, to describe the particle environment.

A program used to estimate rad effects is called SpaceRad, after Space Radiation.


12 posted on 03/19/2013 9:36:25 AM PDT by DBrow
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To: UCANSEE2
 photo Martianssmall.jpg
13 posted on 03/19/2013 9:48:21 AM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: DBrow

This is the sort of dumbing down that made thermodynamics harder than it had to be. The word ‘heat’ should never be used in the context of thermo, but because it is, it gets confusing - specific heat, etc. ‘Thermal energy’ is the correct term, and once you get into that practice, thermo is easy.

Space radiation is a term not unlike what 18th century scientists used the term ‘ether’ for. ‘The ether’ was a scientific term for a very long time until we got specific about what ‘the ether’ meant.

Bodies emitting thermal energy also emit EM radiation. The sun puts out UV radiation. Hydrogen and helium nuclei emit nutrinos. The Van Allen belts emit radiation. Then there are cosmic rays, which is another ‘ether’ like term, since their sources are myriad. At least cosmic rays are understood to originate outside the solar system.

Most of the radiation occuring on Mars is due to the Sun. As such, they could have designed around it sufficiently, but they apparently didn’t.


14 posted on 03/19/2013 9:52:00 AM PDT by RinaseaofDs
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To: cripplecreek

15 posted on 03/19/2013 9:52:51 AM PDT by COBOL2Java (Fighting Obama without Boehner & McConnell is like going deer hunting without your accordion)
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To: cripplecreek
"It sucks that mars is so far away."

Mars is probably "so far away" for a reason. If it were significantly closer, gravitational interactions with Earth and the other inner planets could result in a chaotic orbit that would result in an eventual collision with the Earth, ruining a lot of people's weekends.

Also, Mars' inner moon, Phobos, is inside its Roche limits, so that it eventually will be torn apart and crash into Mars (sometime in the next 100 million years). The collision would result in a large amount of debris ejected into space, some of which will collide with Earth. If closer to Mars, Earth would just catch more Martian flak, again ruining a lot of weekend plans.

16 posted on 03/19/2013 9:57:02 AM PDT by Carl Vehse
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To: cripplecreek

It ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids.


17 posted on 03/19/2013 9:57:55 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: UCANSEE2

LOL my typa humor...: )


18 posted on 03/19/2013 9:58:46 AM PDT by jsanders2001
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To: RinaseaofDs
Most of the radiation occuring on Mars is due to the Sun. As such, they could have designed around it sufficiently,

I don't believe that they know the 'problem' came from 'space radiation'. They know they have the problem, and are fixing it. All else is speculation. It's not like they have a 'space radiation damage' detector onboard.

19 posted on 03/19/2013 10:09:41 AM PDT by UCANSEE2 (The monsters are due on Maple Street)
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To: cripplecreek; Secret Agent Man
I’m assuming the damage was likely done in transit.

Next time use FED-EX.

20 posted on 03/19/2013 10:11:33 AM PDT by UCANSEE2 (The monsters are due on Maple Street)
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To: Carl Vehse
Mars is probably "so far away" for a reason. If it were significantly closer, gravitational interactions with Earth and the other inner planets could result in a chaotic orbit that would result in an eventual collision with the Earth, ruining a lot of people's weekends.

IIRC, the best guess is that this already happened.

21 posted on 03/19/2013 10:15:32 AM PDT by UCANSEE2 (The monsters are due on Maple Street)
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To: Carl Vehse
The collision would result in a large amount of debris ejected into space, some of which will collide with Earth.

You say that as if that would be a bad thing.

22 posted on 03/19/2013 10:16:17 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: BenLurkin
Interesting stuff from Wikipedia about the computers for the rover:
The RCE computers use the RAD750 CPU, which is a successor to the RAD6000 CPU used in the Mars Exploration Rovers.[31][32] The RAD750 CPU is capable of up to 400 MIPS, while the RAD6000 CPU is capable of up to 35 MIPS.[33][34] Of the two on-board computers, one is configured as backup, and will take over in the event of problems with the main computer.[29]
On February 28, 2013, NASA was forced to switch to the backup computer due to an issue with the then active computer's flash memory which resulted in the computer continuously rebooting in a loop. The backup computer was turned on in Safe mode and subsequently returned to active status on March 4th.[15] The rover is expected to resume full operations some time next week. NASA is working on the best way to restore the currently non working computer for use as a viable backup.[14]

23 posted on 03/19/2013 10:20:30 AM PDT by zeugma (Those of us who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living.)
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To: steve86
Hard to understand how the shielding could have been inadequate, along with strategies to recover from memory errors.

Well... Plan A was to have a foot of lead surrounding the entire memory core. This would have guaranteed protection.

This had to be scaled back a bit due to lift off, landing, and power drain problems, so Plan B was chosen.

24 posted on 03/19/2013 10:20:44 AM PDT by UCANSEE2 (The monsters are due on Maple Street)
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To: BenLurkin

25 posted on 03/19/2013 10:28:24 AM PDT by bgill
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To: jsanders2001

Then you will enjoy this.

http://www.360pano.eu/mars/


26 posted on 03/19/2013 10:29:49 AM PDT by UCANSEE2 (The monsters are due on Maple Street)
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To: UCANSEE2

I’ve been thinking about shielding.

The Bigelow space capsules and the way they’re inflated with a foam in the bulkheads. I wonder how effective it would be to infuse the foam with powdered lead.


27 posted on 03/19/2013 10:33:52 AM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: zeugma

I bet they got some bogus Chinese parts using their Chinese outreach program.


28 posted on 03/19/2013 10:38:07 AM PDT by SgtHooper (The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list.)
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To: BenLurkin

It was looking at porn and got a virus.


29 posted on 03/19/2013 10:50:30 AM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: RinaseaofDs

“As such, they could have designed around it sufficiently, but they apparently didn’t.”

Single event upsets are difficult to prevent or mitigate. The NASA guys in Greenbelt did years of screening and testing parts, but that will not prevent an SEU, it lets you predict them and try to mitigate with error checking and redundancy. SEU and other single event effects come from particles found in space, usually heavier than helium with a sharp numeric cutoff at iron. The heavier ones carry a lot of LET (linear energy transfer) when they hit your microprocessor.

The big problem is galactic cosmic rays (that’s the official term, often abbr GCR), which are hard to stop and can reach Martian surface. They are heavy and very energetic. The other part of space radiation (short for radiation found in space) is solar electrons and protons (in the solar wind along with small numbers of other particles like iron nuclei), and trapped particles like you find in the van Allen belts.

Yeah the terminology is “wrong” but that’s the language we use in the field.

I don’t think NASA knows what the problem is, but a good guess is radiation, either SEE or accumulated dose.


30 posted on 03/19/2013 11:00:28 AM PDT by DBrow
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To: UCANSEE2

Are you trying to be funny?


31 posted on 03/19/2013 11:54:27 AM PDT by steve86 (Acerbic by Nature, not Nurture™)
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To: steve86

No. Weight is a huge consideration on any satellite, and it would take a foot of lead(or more) to GUARANTEE protection of the electronics from ‘almost any’ kind of radiation.


32 posted on 03/21/2013 2:23:15 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (The monsters are due on Maple Street)
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To: cripplecreek
I wonder how effective it would be to infuse the foam with powdered lead.

Sounds like a good idea, but I can't answer that question.

33 posted on 03/21/2013 2:33:57 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (The monsters are due on Maple Street)
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To: UCANSEE2

Yes, I would venture that most of we FReepers who peruse aeronautical and space-related threads are cognizant that increased dead payload weight is an undesirable in any ballistic, orbital, or interplanetary launch scenario. No one is talking about “guaranteeing” protection. It is a cost benefit engineering tradeoff, like many other areas. My statement, or what I remember of it, is that I was surprised the type and amount of shielding chosen was (allegedly) breached so early in the game.


34 posted on 03/21/2013 2:34:53 PM PDT by steve86 (Acerbic by Nature, not Nurture™)
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To: steve86
Thank you for the response.

My statement, or what I remember of it, is that I was surprised the type and amount of shielding chosen was (allegedly) breached so early in the game.

I would agree except (like you mentioned) I am not sure that a breach is what caused the problem. If it was, maybe it's just that there are things we aren't aware of yet, that we didn't protect it from.

That is what I was trying to bring to light. I should have just been direct.

Maybe it was something we didn't protect it from or couldn't.

35 posted on 03/26/2013 5:36:54 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (The monsters are due on Maple Street)
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