Thursday, February 12, 2009

Washington Post critiques Mars Lab

JPL wants to send nearly a ton of rover to Mars. The nuclear powered Mars Science Laboratory would be huge compared to all other roving platforms to date sent to Mars. Plus, NASA is using a whole new landing technology, and generally not building on the Spirittype rover technology. Sad.

Washington Post staff writer Joel Achenbach describes the new landing sequence as a spacecraft dropped by parachute followed by: "At 65 feet above the surface -- the descent slowed almost to a hover by retrorockets -- the spacecraft will lower the rover from its belly using cables. When the rover touches down, explosive charges will cut the cables, and the spacecraft will fly off and crash about 200 meters away. And the rover will send a signal to Earth saying it has landed safely. If history repeats itself, the JPL engineers will have turned purple by that point. Adam Steltzner, one of the inventors of the sky crane system, remembers being unable to breathe during one of the earlier rover landings." NASA delenda est

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