Frozen water found on Mars

This is a discussion on Frozen water found on Mars within the A Brief History of Cprogramming.com forums, part of the Community Boards category; Originally Posted by indigo0086 I was wondering, do those mars probes have tools to actually analyze materials, or does it ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by indigo0086 View Post
    I was wondering, do those mars probes have tools to actually analyze materials, or does it have to be brought back here to do detailed analysis?
    A spectrometer isn't particularly large or difficult to run, so that would be a possibility. Gas/Liquid Chromatography takes a little bit more effort and space, but I'm sure it could be done.
    Also isn't space radiation one of the major drawbacks of colonizing mars?
    It would probably need to be solve somehow, yes.

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    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by indigo0086 View Post
    I was wondering, do those mars probes have tools to actually analyze materials, or does it have to be brought back here to do detailed analysis?
    They do all the analysis onboard. It's actually quiet sophisticated and impressive, in my humble opinion. And new methods are constantly being devised.

    The Huygens probe, for instance, that landed on the surface of Titan (Jupiter Moon) has a gas chromatograph and a mass spectrometer equiped with containers that collected atmospheric gases during the 3 stages of descent and analyzed them right then, even before impact. After the second parachute opened and it initiated the 2nd stage of descent it was able to send the data back to Cassini which later relayed it to Earth.

    The two same instruments where used also to analyze the soil by heating the containers inlets right before impact in order to vaporize the contents.

    The probe is also equipped with an aerosol colector (also used in combination with the GCMS above), three imagers and a spectral radiometer which can see through a wide range of spectra, an Atmospheric something that can measure physical and electrical properties of the atmosphere, a so far unique wind deduction device that can analyse wind speed through radio signals (it's the only instrument that failed to operate), a surface package to collect conditions of the landing site (speed of sound, temperature, thermal conductivity, refraction, radioeletric properties), 4 altimeters, a accelerometer and a lamp.

    Typically the probes send the signals back to earth. But Huygens traveled piggybacked on Cassini which had a much bigger mission of analyzing the Jupiter system with a series of flybys over the planet itself and some of its moons (including Titan) that would last 4 years. Huygens was built to send all this data to Cassini in order to be relayed back to Earth for a maximum of 2 hours after impact. After those 2 hours, Cassini ceased to receive any information from Huygens and turned its attention towards its own mission.

    What is extraordinary is that Huygens is still emitting today even though Cassini is not listening. And despite the signal being as weak as our cellphones, our radio telescopes on Earth can still pick it! It is also extraordinary because after 4 years that probe is still operating on an alien environment. This says a lot about the qualities of our materials on earth and gives a gleeful eye on anyone thinking on the possibility of building manned or unmanned space stations on extraterrestrial bodies.

    Also isn't space radiation one of the major drawbacks of colonizing mars?
    Definitely. Although all sorts of materials help in protecting ourselves, animals or plants from it. Necessarily any incursion on the outside could only be possible with protective gear. But mostly, it's my view any colonization efforts on Mars would, at least on an early stage, be made underground for economical reasons.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldman47
    Bottom line: First, hone your skills on our nearest heavenly body, perhaps consider a technological feat of creating a life-boat type space platform positioned between Earth n' Mars that could offer astronauts a safe-haven in case of in-flight trouble.
    I would not be so sure we can apply the same principles on earth in outer space. The major problem with colonization (even if merely for scientific purposes) another body is not one of lack of technology or lack of people willing to risk doing it. The big problem is sustaining that colony.

    It's completely out of the question a system like the one we have in the ISS. With current technology and at the current prices it would probably take the budget of a medium country to sustain 5 scientists on the Moon due to the costs involved in space travel. So, the idea was always for the habitat to create itself the conditions in order to minimize to the absolute necessary any space travel.

    A trip to Mars or a trip to the Moon costs essentially the same. May seem counterintuitive but that's just how it is. Once launched out of the earth influence, we can send anything anywhere with an incredible accuracy both in space and time at, from that moment on, essentially a cost 0.

    So, with these two things in our minds, Mars becomes a much better prospect than the Moon because:

    a) It offers more relevant scientific possibilities which will help a positive balance between mission costs and gains. The Moon, while still interesting, is not in any way comparable to Mars in terms of scientific output.

    b) Mars offers better possibilities as it already contains materials that can be used on-site for the construction of the Habitat, its maintenance and continuous operation. Most(!) important, Mars has water. Water is more valuable than gold on a extraterrestrial human site. It reduces the cost of the whole mission exponentially, can fuel machinery, can help in the creation of a steady atmospehre inside the habitat and... can be drank. In contrast, the Moon is bare.

    ...

    The whole going to the moon thing o the 60s was in my view a spectacular scientific failure immediately preceded by a spectacular scientific achievement. The taking humans there... in the 60s? Holly crap! What an amazing feat. Hold on to cellphones, dual cores and BlueRay all you want... but the King of the Hill is Apollo 11. We even put a rover in there!

    However... there was nothing scientific about it. We sent astronatus, not scientists and we were on a mission to get there first, not to study it. Later we wanted to get back and set the record straight. Everyone in the scientific community (particularly the NASA heroes - and I don't mean the astronauts - behind the Apollo 11 mission) felt they had lost a great opportunity back in 69 and wanted to correct the mistake. But Nixon administration was now more interested in fighting the baby-eating communists than in "landing on a rock".

    We will get back to the Moon. I'm pretty sure of that. And we will even have one, two or more permanent bases set (probably mostly observation and data collection outposts). But probably not before Mars. It's exactly the other way around... on this case farther has become cheaper. Although I cannot deny that an unmanned station on the Moon is cheaper than one on Mars (and more readily accessible). But we are talking about sending humans, not metal.
    Last edited by Mario F.; 06-26-2008 at 09:57 AM.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
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    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

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    See Mario, you CAN learn something from Anime. I pretty much learned a lot of stuff from Planetes, which is about space debris collectors. It even had commentary from NASA engineers. Pretty cool series.

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    l'Anziano DavidP's Avatar
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    What is extraordinary is that Huygens is still emitting today even though Cassini is not listening. And despite the signal being as weak as our cellphones, our radio telescopes on Earth can still pick it!
    This is something that I have indeed been wondering about...principally: how the probes/rovers/landers last so long in alien environments. The main thing I wonder about is the electronic circuits. How do the electronic circuits in these things last so long in such rough climates (temperatures that go way below or above what we have on Earth)?
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidP View Post
    This is something that I have indeed been wondering about...principally: how the probes/rovers/landers last so long in alien environments. The main thing I wonder about is the electronic circuits. How do the electronic circuits in these things last so long in such rough climates (temperatures that go way below or above what we have on Earth)?
    Well, first of all, they aren't exactly using the highest spec modern parts. And the components are selected to run at specifically higher/lower temperatures than the commercially available parts. If you are Nasa and you ask Intel, Motorola or AMD if you can get some specially selected parts that tolerate +/-20% what the standard voltages are and -40 to +100 'C (instead of 0-55'C for example), at half the standard clock-speed, compared to the standard parts, for 10-100x the standard price, I'm pretty sure they'll do something for you - of course, I just made up those numbers to display the principle. The additional cost part may be way off - NASA don't tend to build very many of any of their devices, so per-part cost of the space-going parts isn't going to be a huge part of the budget. (For earth-bound development systems, most of them you only need commercially available parts).

    Most of these systems also have redundancy, such as multiple modules of memory that can replace the original memory module(s).

    But it is of course impressive still.

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    I honestly don't know the details. I do know that the composites used to build these babies are specifically tailored for the task. There's simply no wiring as we are used to it over here. Everything runs inside specifically built tubes or is in some other way shielded.

    The fuel used for these things is also nothing like what we use on earth (granted they have very limited fuel needs). The Cassini probe uses two modified gases that ignite on contact, relieving the probe from an ignition engine. These gases have obviously a very large resistance to low temperatures, remaining inert even on space. Meanwhile power is almost always provided by batteries that draw heat from the decay of radioactive materials (so far I think we have always used plutonium-238) in order to generate electricity.

    In any case it is remarkable they last so long in sometimes incredibly harsh environments.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

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    Malum in se abachler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by matsp View Post
    A spectrometer isn't particularly large or difficult to run, so that would be a possibility. Gas/Liquid Chromatography takes a little bit more effort and space, but I'm sure it could be done.


    It would probably need to be solve somehow, yes.

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    Mars has an atmophere less than 1% as thick as earths, which means for humans, it is essentially a vacuum. There could be no human activity on the surface outside environmental suits, which will block almost all radiation.

    There realyl is quite a lot fo water on mars, even more than on earth, it just isnt concentrated on teh surface by an active core as it is on earth. The same amount of water is distributed in teh entire lithosphere. Rock on earth also contain water (unless fired). Earth however has an active core, the effect of which is to drive lower density materials to the surface, just like in a blast furnace. Water is a relatively low density material comapred to the mantle adn core, therefor, on a geologically active planet, the water tends to for concentrated pools ont ehsurface (i.e. oceans). Mars does not have a suignificantly active core, thus its water reserves are distributed.
    Until you can build a working general purpose reprogrammable computer out of basic components from radio shack, you are not fit to call yourself a programmer in my presence. This is cwhizard, signing off.

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    Malum in se abachler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by matsp View Post
    If you are Nasa and you ask Intel, Motorola or AMD if you can get some specially selected parts that tolerate +/-20% what the standard voltages are and -40 to +100 'C (instead of 0-55'C for example), at half the standard clock-speed, compared to the standard parts, for 10-100x the standard price, I'm pretty sure they'll do something for you - of course
    Actually there are commercially avilable parts that can tolerate the conditions on mars. The temperature on mars may be low, but the atmospheric pressure makes any probe essentialyl a thermos. the cold isnt a problem if you can keep the stuff running. The wheels have problems, because they are in direct contact with the surface, so they get very cold at night, but the electronics dont have much of a problem if you can spare a few milliwatts through the night. Generalyl they still use space rated chips, but those arent that expensive, about 3 times the price of industrial parts. Its mreo the radiation hardening that si needed. The expense isnt from them using some special materials, but rather using much lower density lithography and lower doping density differentials.
    Until you can build a working general purpose reprogrammable computer out of basic components from radio shack, you are not fit to call yourself a programmer in my presence. This is cwhizard, signing off.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CornedBee View Post
    What for?
    Already answered. To develop and fine tune the skills and technology needed to goto mars and beyond. Are you're asking, why bother with space at all?

    Answer: Mankind and its future depends on it. We're a planet of 6 billion crazy apes and counting. All it would take is one catastrophe, whether that be a nuclear war or a ten mile wide asteriod striking the planet to pretty much eliminate our race. I don't care to get into a philosophical argument as to whether mankind is worth saving (let us just assume that it is) or whether or not spreading the seeds of humanity throughout the stars is a grand idea, but survival of future generations seems to be within our grasps. It may take hundreds or perhaps another thousand years before we're ready to leave our solar system and quite possibly find another earth-like home, but it could happen.

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    This thread made me want to rewatch the movie Red Planet...

    In that movie they shot rockets with algae to mars, thus creating oxygen...

    Anyhow, the whole idea seemed very far fetched but looking back at history. It has been 40 years since we've been on the moon. Technology has evolved tremendously since then(looking back at the hardware they had back then I'm even amazed they got to the moon in the first place).

    Anyhow, its not that I'm an expert in anything but I hope to live the day humans land on mars and settle there. Just imagine what an impact it will have on the world (worlds to be). What would happen politically (treat mars as another country or have a space run for available land), demographically (will it be populated by one race only or ...) ... all these question might seem very stupid at first but if you just think of it. Also the word globalisation should be redefined...

    Man cant wait to sit in front of my tv as an earthling (hologram by then probably - or better brain implant sending signals directly to my whatever sensors I have up there) watching live shows from mars, performed by marsians!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldman47 View Post
    Mankind and its future depends on it.
    Well I do think that the ethics regarding that decision is conditional. Earth would need to be in some great peril and it really depends on the reason(s) why. On one hand, the big, friendly, unnamed asteroid might be careening for the Pacific, and on the other hand we might have simply overpopulated and ruined the majority of our arable land. There are reasons, I think, if you named them, that people wouldn't want our own species to survive. If we do colonize another planet we'll have to do so sustainably or it would end us anyhow.

    I would go as far as claiming that we need world peace before we have a chance in hell.

    IMO, Earth is our one and only home.
    Last edited by whiteflags; 06-26-2008 at 06:07 PM.

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    A trip to Mars or a trip to the Moon costs essentially the same. May seem counterintuitive but that's just how it is. Once launched out of the earth influence, we can send anything anywhere with an incredible accuracy both in space and time at, from that moment on, essentially a cost 0.
    This is a very interesting statement illustrating a point that most of us miss. Once you accelerate and put Sir Isaac Newton in the driver's seat...it really doesn't cost much to keep the spaceship operating. Very good observation that went right over my head on the first read.
    So perhaps the most expensive portion of space travel is getting into space or far enough from a planet's gravity to be able to 'shut it off' and coast.

    Would this work if we were to attain FTL speeds? I've heard some say that in order to maintain FTL speeds it would take an infinite amount of energy. However according to Newton once you get to the speed you can just shut the thing off and maintain that speed without adding any net acceleration to the system. So the real challenges for FTL travel (which I feel is the only way we will ever break the bonds of earth and our solar system and still be alive when you get there) is getting up to FTL speed, navigating so you don't smack into asteroids, stars, and planets, and slowing down on the other end. Piece of cake right?

    Interesting.
    Last edited by VirtualAce; 06-26-2008 at 06:15 PM.

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    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by citizen View Post
    Well I do think that the ethics regarding that decision is conditional.
    Precisely. Any current efforts only make sense in the context of science and general human curiosity (the father of science). It is too soon, and there is no reason whatsoever, to think it in terms of survival.

    Colonization as such should only be (and that's how it is being discussed) made by scientists and technical staff.
    Last edited by Mario F.; 06-26-2008 at 06:17 PM.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

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    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bubba View Post
    So perhaps the most expensive portion of space travel is getting into space or far enough from a planet's gravity to be able to 'shut it off' and coast.
    Absolutely. The slingshot effect we have been using thus far is an exceedingly economic means of space travel. There's only a minimal need for readjustments once we get close to another flyby and another slingshot. But as our calculations become more precise even these tends to diminish, I'd think... although probably never reach an error margin of 0. Even more important though, is the fact we have been already able to initiate descent maneuvers without any expenditure of fuel (I need to find a quote for this one since I understand the eyebrows such statement can raise. But this is precisely what I've read not just long ago. I believe on the recent mars robot mission)

    Anyways, that's why we can send a probe to Pluto on a fuel tank smaller than a human being. And this, of course is true for any ship size and mass. Although, the last stage of descent may mean a large expenditure of fuel on the later cases... but would be the same whether we landed on the moon or mars.

    ...

    As for NSL and FTL, I trully wished I knew more about it. Certain theories are simply fascinating. My favorite is the gravitational engine in which space travel would be achieved by a steady increase of velocity... say, 1G all through half way, and then the same rate of deceleration for the remaining half. This of course only would make sense in case there were no objects (planets, stars, moons, large asteroids) capable of propelling our spacecraft with the slighshot effect, and thus only meaningful for deep space travelling. It however would mean a considerable economy of fuel with no less loss in velocity.

    I remember reading on an excellent book from Sagan & Chklovski how such an engine could even look like and what type of fuel could be used.

    This would mean NSL. As for FTL... I honestly understand very little of the jargon used and can't make the debates on the several newsgroups and books I've got an hand on.
    Last edited by Mario F.; 06-26-2008 at 06:43 PM.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mario F. View Post
    It's completely out of the question a system like the one we have in the ISS. With current technology and at the current prices it would probably take the budget of a medium country to sustain 5 scientists on the Moon due to the costs involved in space travel. So, the idea was always for the habitat to create itself the conditions in order to minimize to the absolute necessary any space travel.
    Granted. The economics of an ambitious space project cannot be underestimated. However, if we could put aside out national pride and egos and work together as a world community so much more could be accomplished (and in a shorter period of time). I'd like to see more international cooperation with regards to space exploration. I'd much prefer to see a world flag being displayed if and when humans reach Mars. One cannot claim that they represent the human race with an American, Russian or Chinese flag being planted onto another planet. Somehow, someway, all we humans need to see each other as the same earthly species, afforded the same inalienable rights. Perhaps it'd take contact with an alien culture before we all start thinking of ourselves as Earthlings and not by race or nationality.

    remember reading on an excellent book from Sagan & Chklovski how such an engine could even look like and what type of fuel could be used.
    I remember that book, I think it was called 'Road to the Stars'

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