1. says

    Real time strategy games for the win :)

    More relevantly, I really wish they would avoid saying things like “zero margin of error” or “neck snapping n-Gs”. The first irks me because I have heard people use it as an excuse to argue that space missions have only succeeded by luck, and therefore aren’t worthwhile, while the second leads those same type of people to say that clearly a manned space mission to mars is impossible, not understanding that in the case of a manned mission, the descent craft would be engineered quite differently. Of course, saying “0.001% margin of error” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

  2. Tyrant al-Kalām says

    Reminds me of the old days when we tried to play multiplayer games via serial port.

    “zero margin of error” or “neck snapping n-Gs

    Hah! I cringed at the first one as well. It should have been easily spotted by any science advisor reading the script.

    As for the second, they discovery channelled it a bit I guess, but after having watched “extreme engineering” the other day, I am pretty much desensitized to that.

  3. says

    Um, yeah, I’d very much want a parachute in this atmosphere too. Spacecraft need them on earth as well, unless it’s the space shuttle or the weird little space plane the Defense Dept. recently landed.

    Interesting little clip, but I have no idea why they talked like Mars’ atmosphere is so thin that parachutes are needed, like that’s an oddity to terrestrials.

    Glen Davidson

  4. danoberste says

    That’s why “telemedicine” robotic surgery is a fantasy. I once saw a simulation of a surgeon on earth, performing surgery on a martian astronaut using the Da Vinci surgery robot. Can you imagine how the time lag would affect scalpel movements?!? The moment the Surgeon said “Oops” the patient would have been long dead.

  5. tomfrog says

    What’s not very clear in the OP video is the size of the rover, more easily visible (with humans next to it) here:

    At first I thought this one was the size of the 2 previous Mars rovers but it’s huuuuuge compared to them (like a skateboard and a large car)

  6. Tyrant al-Kalām says

    What’s not very clear in the OP video is the size of the rover,

    I agree. They should have rendered little green men next to it as a reference.

  7. Michael says

    Worst lag ever? It is over 40 minutes for Jupiter (Galileo probe), and over an hour for Saturn (landing on Titan).

  8. madscientist says

    It’s simple – plan everything carefully beforehand. Any errors may be costly. All communications (and the matter of the communications) are carefully scheduled and monstrous radio telescopes on earth point toward Mars at the scheduled time. You don’t need the sort of interactions that you need in video games. The data transmission schemes used are very different from what we’d typically use on earth though since waiting 8 minutes or so (or over 8 hours for some spacecraft) for a signal to say “I missed something – can you repeat it?” is just not acceptable in many cases.

  9. nonny says

    That was the most ridiculously amazing thing I’ve seen today.

    Seems like a good video for the general public; exciting and easy to understand. The amount of work it must have taken to work out all those steps is breathtaking.

    I liked ‘neck-snapping’ personally, it’s not an adjective you hear very often.

  10. Crudely Wrott says

    On the one hand this reentry scheme scares the shit out of me. So did the bouncy airbags that successfully landed the Mars Rovers.

    On the other hand I’ve no doubt that it can work because I trust the people who are behind it. They have invested a huge portion of their lives which makes the financial investment pale by comparison. They have built a machine that is better than the ominous constrictions of time and distance.

    On the gripping hand I know that I’ll be biting the nails thereof while watching NASA TV seven minutes behind reality. Not that it can be helped. I’ll not be gnawing alone.

    Knowing that everyone else will be lagging to the same extent is no comfort; I do so dearly hope that Curiosity lands lighter than a feather can in so sparse an atmosphere. Fee fall, get thee behind me!