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Nicodemus

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Spacey Stuff [Jul. 5th, 2007|09:14 am]
Nicodemus

  • Mars rover Opportunity is read to dive into Victoria crater. The rover's been positioned near the top of "Duck Bay" (a smooth flume decline in between the bluffs of the crater rim) and is standing by to enter. There's been a slight delay due to dust storms in the atmosphere; the controllers want the rover to have all of the solar power it can during this operation.

    Victoria crater may very well be a one-way trip. The slope may cause the rover to lose control and it may be too steep for it to ever climb out. But the views from inside the crater could allow analysis of exposed rock unlike any they've seen up to now.

    Besides, the mars rovers have been there about three and a half years and are at roughly thriteen times their planned operational life.

  • The Dawn Mission is preparing for launch in the next couple of days. Planned launch is Saturday afternoon.

    The Dawn spacecraft's mission is to visit the asteroids Ceres and Vesta. These are the two largest bodies in the asteroid belt (Ceres now being designated a "dwarf planet" by the new astronomical categorization that stripped Pluto of planethood.)

    The spacecraft will stop and orbit both of these asteroids, making it the first craft to enter into stable orbits around multiple bodies. It's going to do this using ion propulsion, a thrust mechanism that virtually requires a Star Trek mention.

  • Armadillo Aerospace is gearing up for this fall's next round of the X-Prize Lunar Lander Challenge. The goal is to create a craft that can autonomously hover and travel between two target points.

    I've been idly following Armadillo for, what, five years now? I think this may when they take it, though. There's probably only two other teams that are serious competition for this prize and Armadillo's unofficial test flights have met the goals already. Can John Carmack go up another notch in geek cool?
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: shockwave77598
2007-07-05 05:15 pm (UTC)
Armadillo uses Hydrogen Peroxide for fuel. Going over a silver catalyst, it turns into high temperature steam and oxygen. But it simply doesn't have enough impulse to go suborbital, never mind orbital.

Also, pure hydrogen peroxide is not the nicest chemical on Earth. It was used in WWII in Germany's Komet rocket plane. More than one groundcrewman was completely melted where he stood because a HP tank ruptured.
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2007-07-05 05:38 pm (UTC)
My understanding is that the LLC is designed for low-altitude maneuverability of a lander vehicle, not the primary engine of a craft.

As for fuel, they switched to LOX/ethanol a while back. (Dunno if you're much safer if a LOX tank ruptures... really, most rocket fuels are not safe to be around when a tank ruptures!)
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[User Picture]From: menagerie73
2007-07-05 07:35 pm (UTC)
You beat me to it. I was going to post about some of these things this weekend after Dawn launched.

I didn't know about the X-prise Lunar Lander Challenge.
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2007-07-05 10:40 pm (UTC)
Feel free to post as well. :) You have plenty of good info and insight on these topics. (Are you in the industry, out of curiosity?)
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[User Picture]From: menagerie73
2007-07-05 11:43 pm (UTC)
Yes I am, but I don't get to work with the payload. I know a few folks who do, and I get to ping them directly. They don't get to work on everything out there so I've got to learn a lot of it from the news feeds the same as everyone else does.
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[User Picture]From: drfgeek
2007-07-05 07:48 pm (UTC)
So basically is going to do the same to their rover what hicks do to old beater cars; drive it over a cliff. :P
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[User Picture]From: drfgeek
2007-07-05 07:50 pm (UTC)
So basically _______ is going to...

The missing subject of that sentence would be "NASA".
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2007-07-05 10:41 pm (UTC)
Yeah, kinda.

Also remember: they have a spare rover! ;)
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[User Picture]From: drfgeek
2007-07-06 03:48 am (UTC)
Yeah, but do they have the spare cash/schedule/etc. to launch said rover?
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2007-07-06 04:34 pm (UTC)
I meant Spirit, the other rover currently on Mars.
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[User Picture]From: drfgeek
2007-07-06 04:38 pm (UTC)
I thought that one crapped out, or something. o.O
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[User Picture]From: p0lecat
2007-07-06 01:13 am (UTC)
WOW! I hope it makes it to the bottom in one WORKING peice!
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