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mars lander has phoned home


MrMike
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Yep, just got done watching the video stream from NASA, very exciting...also very tense for a moment as everyone was celebrating the fact that it had confirmed that the airbags had deployed and it had taken a bounce on the surface, but then they lost contact.

 

The guy reading telemetry had to tell everyone to return to their stations!

 

It was starting to look bad as they heard nothing for about 10 minutes, but then the lander sent out a strong signal indicating it not only landed and stopped bouncing, but that it landed right-side-up which means opening up the base so that it can roll off is a much simpler ordeal.

 

At 9:30 JPL is holding a press conference which will also be streamed by NASA (and probably on CNN as well).

 

Over the next 45 minutes the lander "petals" will open, and then the rover will begin to unfold it's solar panels. If everything goes well, they may even have initial pictures from the site tonight!

 

(Edit: I see you commented in it being right side up in your subject subtitle)

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They just got the first pictures in, totally amazing stuff! Everything from wide panoramas of the area to closeups of parts of the rover. They got images from several different cameras, probably a dozen or more images...the video stream quality is less than ideal, but I assume they will put these on the web soon.

 

This totally rocks!

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Originally posted by Daniel Brecher@Jan 4 2004, 06:52 AM

A real kick in the teeth for the poor old beagle team.

 

Daniel

I was thinking about that all night. I feel very bad for them. But let's not forget the Japanese team that lost their Mars probe entirely, and NASA lost two consecutive probes in 1999. So while the Beagle team may be down, they are in good company as the majority of Mars missions end the way theirs did (or seems to have at this point)

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Originally posted by CaptDS9E@Jan 4 2004, 04:14 AM

if you guys can post a link where the put the images. As of this morning i havent seen any on nasa.gov

Hey Joey, not sure if you found them yet, but here they are.

 

http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/pre.../20040104a.html

 

When I said that I was looking at them last night, I was only seeing them as they came up on the screens at JPL's command center right after being received from Mars, they weren't available online at that time...just in that video stream.

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I was thinking about that all night. I feel very bad for them. But let's not forget the Japanese team that lost their Mars probe entirely, and NASA lost two consecutive probes in 1999. So while the Beagle team may be down, they are in good company as the majority of Mars missions end the way theirs did (or seems to have at this point)

 

Mmm, very true. Now I wonder if Marvin the Martian will show up on the feedback footage. :)

 

Daniel

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Originally posted by CaptDS9E@Jan 4 2004, 09:25 AM

Thanks ed. i saw the panoramic one on cnn.com but the picture wasnt as clear as the link. amazing stuff

 

capt

Thanks ed. i saw the panoramic one on cnn.com but the picture wasnt as clear as the link. amazing stuff

 

It should get a lot better, as they have high resolution cameras on board (I haven't found exact numbers, but they say there's enough resolution for the pictures to be displayed on a movie screen, which sounds like ~1900 pixels wide).

 

And Daniel, I don't mean to minimize the Beagle team's disappointment. It must be especially frustrating given how close these missions were to each other. I really wish it had worked, it would be so incredible to have two functioning rovers on Mars at the same time...maybe even a 3rd when Opportunity lands in ~3 weeks.

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I really wish it had worked, it would be so incredible to have two functioning rovers on Mars at the same time...maybe even a 3rd when Opportunity lands in ~3 weeks.

 

Yes, two would have been remarkable, though like you say, it is great at least one made it ok and we've images to still get excited over. I've always been fascinated by the terrain on Mars.

 

Daniel

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Just to update. The high-res color camera has take a full panorama of the surrounding area, the image is still on-board the rover waiting to be transmitted. They say that the transmission will occur at about midnight tonight (PST). So by tomorrow morning we should have images more than 10x as detailed as the one's takes so far, in full color, and even in stereo (the panocam is actually two cameras spaced about as far apart as human eyes).

 

I'm contemplating staying up tonight to see if they come in at a reasonable hour...

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They say that the transmission will occur at about midnight tonight (PST).

 

Why wait till midnight? Do they have to wait until there aren't a lot of people on the martian internet system so they get more bandwidth or something? Do your downloads outside of work hours applies to mars also I guess. :)

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maybe they use the bandwidth for the semi-live feed showing where they are driving during the day, but since they can't do much else during the hours of darkness its time to send all the stored images home?

 

Mind you, I've no idea when martian sundown was yesterday, so its just a guess.

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They have two constraints at work; windows of time when they can transfer data, and priorities for the data to be transfered.

 

They don't simply transfer data all the time because it's more efficient for battery life to collect data in one pass, then send it in another - all at once.

 

And obviously, to send data directly to Earth, the high gain antenna needs a direct line-of-site to Earth, which only occurs during certain hours of the Martian day. For something as large as the hi-res image, they will need quite a lot of time to transfer it.

 

The priority thing just means that certain data, especially anything about the 'health' of the rover (engineering data) gets transmitted first, the image is at a lower priority so it sit until the higher priority stuff has been sent.

 

However, they do have the image available now, I'm currently downloading the 40MB raw file! Looks like their site is getting hammered as it's going quite slow...

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