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Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Thu Oct 20, 2016 2:28 am

http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/fate-of--li ... t/42527306 tells us:

A European space lander reached Mars on Wednesday in what scientists hope will mark a major milestone in exploration of the Red Planet, but whether it touched down on the surface in good working condition was far from certain.


Will it end up as part of the Martian junkyard?
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Thu Oct 20, 2016 8:20 am

They pulled another Beagle.

Landing om Mars remains hard.
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Thu Oct 20, 2016 11:49 am

I'm starting to believe that Mars is absolutely cursed for Russia. Seriously, not a single probe we sent there fully completed the mission. :?

Much more luck with Venus...
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Thu Oct 20, 2016 11:56 am

tu204 wrote:
I'm starting to believe that Mars is absolutely cursed for Russia. Seriously, not a single probe we sent there fully completed the mission. :?

Much more luck with Venus...


Count Europe in :(
 
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Thu Oct 20, 2016 11:59 am

I was Mission Controller for the landing.

At the Kerbal Space Center, we did not register anything outside of the norm. A rocket started, something is orbiting something somewhere, and the rest has crashed.

We call October 20th, 2016 a normal day.


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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Thu Oct 20, 2016 1:22 pm

VSMUT wrote:
tu204 wrote:
I'm starting to believe that Mars is absolutely cursed for Russia. Seriously, not a single probe we sent there fully completed the mission. :?

Much more luck with Venus...


Count Europe in :(


USA too, a few times. The reason I included the "Martian Junkyard" link above is because it describes all the different crashes, it makes for interesting reading and shows how hard it is to get it right.

flyingturtle wrote:
I was Mission Controller for the landing.

At the Kerbal Space Center, we did not register anything outside of the norm. A rocket started, something is orbiting something somewhere, and the rest has crashed.

We call October 20th, 2016 a normal day.

David


Very interesting. It's a hard problem to solve. Hope it gets solved next time.
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Thu Oct 20, 2016 2:41 pm

The glass is half full here. Schiaparelli was just a landing device to test some stuff. It was equipped with an electric battery with enough power for only 4 days. It would have had a short life anyway. More important is the orbiter, which was inserted correctly into Mars orbit. The *real* mission will start in 2020 when the rover arrives (which is the second part of the ExoMars mission).
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Thu Oct 20, 2016 2:46 pm

KarelXWB wrote:
The glass is half empty here. Schiaparelli was just a landing device to test some stuff. It was equipped with an electric battery with enough power for only 4 days. It would have had a short life anyway. More important is the orbiter, which was inserted correctly into Mars orbit. The *real* mission will start in 2020 when the rover arrives (which is the second part of the ExoMars mission).


Indeed, and it seems the lander generated a lot of data on the way down, and its orbiter and the other orbiters will provide more.
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Thu Oct 20, 2016 2:50 pm

Regarding the junkyard, imagine a future where the first people walk on Mars and visit all the crashed landing devices.
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Thu Oct 20, 2016 2:54 pm

KarelXWB wrote:
Regarding the junkyard, imagine a future where the first people walk on Mars and visit all the crashed landing devices.


I guess there's a movie we need to watch:

This (Sojourner) is the spacecraft that features in the 2015 film The Martian. On a Mars mission in 2035, stranded astronaut played by Matt Damon retrieves the defunct rover in order to re-establish radio contact with Earth.


Ref: link in thread starter.
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Thu Oct 20, 2016 2:56 pm

"Look, the remains of the Climate Orbiter. You know, that orbiter that crashed in 1998 because someone at mission control used pound-seconds instead of newton-seconds."
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Thu Oct 20, 2016 3:01 pm

KarelXWB wrote:
"Look, the remains of the Climate Orbiter. You know, that orbiter that crashed in 1998 because someone at mission control used pound-seconds instead of newton-seconds."


Image Image Image
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Thu Oct 20, 2016 3:22 pm

KarelXWB wrote:
Regarding the junkyard, imagine a future where the first people walk on Mars and visit all the crashed landing devices.


Bring them all back and have a special "Rogues Gallery" in the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. :)
 
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Thu Oct 20, 2016 5:23 pm

As stated, the main event is the orbiter, one of it's main tasks is to follow up on the findings of the previous ESA mission, Mars Express, which found what seems to be methane in the Martian atmosphere.
We now know it's lander Beagle 2, did touch down, however a solar array did not deploy, there is rather more data on the lander's descent yesterday, which seems so far to show the parachutes deployed but may have uncoupled too soon and that the retro rockets fired but not for the length of time required.

Russia successfully put this spacecraft up and sent it on it's way, though not directly involved with the spacecraft itself, their part has been a success.
Mars 3 in 1971 would have sent back the first data and images from the surface had it not come down in the planet wide dust storm of 1971, what was returned, all 14 seconds of it was of no value so you can see why Russia feels cursed by Mars.
Then again, look at the images from one of the Viking landers 5 years later, some big old rocks near it, had it come down on them...

Of concern to ESA will be the effect of the ambitious rover, being largely developed in the UK, which is already under budget strain, hopefully the data returned yesterday will increase it's chances.
ExoMars was to be a joint ESA/NASA effort for future Mars rovers, however NASA bailed citing future funding uncertainties, ESA went to Russia to provide the launch vehicles to cut costs and save the project.

In other space probe news, which might be concerning, NASA's Juno Jupiter spacecraft went into 'safe mode' unexpectedly, however what ever caused it was not the heavy radiation around that planet.
 
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Thu Oct 20, 2016 5:32 pm

GDB wrote:
Of concern to ESA will be the effect of the ambitious rover, being largely developed in the UK, which is already under budget strain, hopefully the data returned yesterday will increase it's chances.
ExoMars was to be a joint ESA/NASA effort for future Mars rovers, however NASA bailed citing future funding uncertainties, ESA went to Russia to provide the launch vehicles to cut costs and save the project.


I think it should be a concern. Curiosity is not getting anything like the attention that Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity got. I think the novelty has worn off, and the public has moved on to the Next Great Thing (TM). While in the ideal world that shouldn't be the concern, in the real world it does limit how much money gets directed towards these projects.
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Thu Oct 20, 2016 6:19 pm

I still remember flipping through Werner Büdeler's book "Geschichte der Raumfahrt" ("History of Space Exploration" or so), which details the history of rockets, orbital physics, the moon landing, Pioneer, Viking... and ends with a concept drawing of the Space Shuttle.

In comparison to the pictures in that book, the data sent back by Spirit and Philae is sooo marvelous. Go, ESA! More luck next time! And I'll be a bit more experienced as a Mission Controller then!

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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Fri Oct 21, 2016 4:45 pm

Russia's involment was more than just the launch vehicle here. Some equipment onboard the lander and the orbiter aswell.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ExoMars_Trace_Gas_Orbiter

However the ExoMars rover in 2020 is Russian so I wonder how we will manage to screw that one up. :lol:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ExoMars_(rover)
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Fri Oct 21, 2016 6:06 pm

Bit more information:

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-37731671

Its parachute was jettisoned too early and its retrorockets, designed to slow the robot to a hover just above the surface, fired only for a few seconds. They should have operated for half a minute.

Ultimately, the investigation should tell us at what stage in the descent sequence Schiaparelli went into freefall - somewhere between two and four km up - and the speed with which it smacked into the ground. This is estimated to be more than 300km/h.


Oeh, that kinda hurts.
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Fri Oct 21, 2016 7:09 pm

NASA's MRO has photographed the mortal remains of Schiapparelli. :cry:

http://m.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_S ... nding_site
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Fri Oct 21, 2016 7:48 pm

flyingturtle wrote:
NASA's MRO has photographed the mortal remains of Schiapparelli. :cry:

http://m.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_S ... nding_site


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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Fri Oct 21, 2016 9:49 pm

Revelation wrote:
flyingturtle wrote:
NASA's MRO has photographed the mortal remains of Schiapparelli. :cry:

http://m.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_S ... nding_site


Image Image


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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Fri Oct 21, 2016 11:58 pm

tu204 wrote:
Russia's involment was more than just the launch vehicle here. Some equipment onboard the lander and the orbiter aswell.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ExoMars_Trace_Gas_Orbiter

However the ExoMars rover in 2020 is Russian so I wonder how we will manage to screw that one up. :lol:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ExoMars_(rover)


True about the equipment, with rover however is now being constructed by (from wikipedia)

The lead builder of the ExoMars rover, the British division of Airbus Defence and Space, began procuring critical components in March 2014.[14] In December 2014, ESA member states approved the funding for the rover, to be sent on the second launch in 2018,[15] but insufficient funds had already started to threaten a launch delay until 2020.[16] The wheels and suspension system are paid by the Canadian Space Agency and are being manufactured by MDA Corporation in Canada.[14]

The areas that seemed to have failed on the lander were not Russian, the only Russian mission to Mars I think was more botched than bad luck was Mars '96, not built and launched at the best time for the Russian space program.
If there was a weakness with the USSR probes in the Cold War it was with electronics, witness the fate of the probes launched in the window after the 1971 missions that hit the dust storm, distances are further, compared to Venus, so longer flights where these weaknesses were compounded.

These don't exist today.
True Russia has never done an Outer Planets mission, I'd like to see them have another crack at landing on Venus, with today's technology and the robust heritage of the Venera missions.
 
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Sat Oct 22, 2016 2:22 pm

WIederling wrote:
No chances for a zombification, are there ?


No. Schiaparelli is no Opportunity. Different breed of roboter.


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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Wed Oct 26, 2016 1:23 am

I wonder if Elon is paying attention to the difficulty of landing on Mars.
 
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Wed Oct 26, 2016 7:29 am

Well, Phobos-Grunt also failed unfortunately.

While Nasa has a rather good record lately, for human missions the success rate is certainly too low. On the other Hand, just being able to send probes there is a great testimony of what we can do today.

And sending a probe to Mars that works for more than 15 years is awesome.
 
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Wed Oct 26, 2016 8:36 am

If Schiaparelli indeed crashed because the software deactivated the retrorockets too early, humans can always take manual control and land the damn thing by hand. Like Armstrong did during the Apollo 11 mission.
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Wed Oct 26, 2016 11:43 am

KarelXWB wrote:
If Schiaparelli indeed crashed because the software deactivated the retrorockets too early

Yapp, that's what is currently reported... another software glitch (if confirmed later on). Very disapointing... :-(
 
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Wed Oct 26, 2016 12:18 pm

In Kerbal Space Program, building a lander that takes into account the *other* planet's atmosphere was difficult enough. :cry: I can't imagine what the real pyrotechnicians err... spaceflight engineers are going through.

I wonder if we would land at Phobos first, because we would have to build a hermetically sealed, pressurized "biosphere" anyway. Also, less energy expended when taking off.

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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Wed Oct 26, 2016 11:40 pm

flyingturtle wrote:
Go, ESA! More luck next time!


The problem being that additional funding for the European Mars rover was somewhat dependent on the success of this landing demonstrator.
It will now be extremely hard to convince bureaucrats to spend hundreds of millions on a sophisticated probe when the ESA hasn't even been able to land a single one successfully... As if securing funding for space stuff was easy in the first place for ESA.

I wouldn't want to be the guy who will be going after that money...
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Thu Oct 27, 2016 8:23 am

Francoflier wrote:
I wouldn't want to be the guy who will be going after that money...
"Yeah, we screwed that one up, but the next one will work, I swear!"


Or even: ""Yeah, we screwed that one up .... again ...., but the next one will work, I swear!"
 
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Mon Oct 31, 2016 3:31 pm

N14AZ wrote:
KarelXWB wrote:
If Schiaparelli indeed crashed because the software deactivated the retrorockets too early

Yapp, that's what is currently reported... another software glitch (if confirmed later on). Very disapointing... :-(


Computing glitch may have doomed Mars lander says:

But at 4 minutes and 41 seconds into an almost 6-minute fall, something went wrong. The lander’s heat shield and parachute ejected ahead of time, says Vago. Then thrusters, designed to decelerate the craft for 30 seconds until it was metres off the ground, engaged for only around 3 seconds before they were commanded to switch off, because the lander's computer thought it was on the ground.

The lander even switched on its suite of instruments, ready to record Mars’s weather and electrical field, although they did not collect data. “My guess is that at that point we were still too high. And the most likely scenario is that, from then, we just dropped to the surface,” says Vago.

The craft probably fell from a height of between 2 and 4 kilometres before slamming into the ground at more than 300 kilometres per hour, according to estimates based on images of the probe’s likely crash site, taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on 20 October.


The article suggests the issue may be related to different data being returned by various sensors, some of which caused the device to conclude that it was on the surface when it really was kilometers above the surface.
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Mon Nov 07, 2016 1:49 pm

Touchdown, we have a touchdown!

......

well, kind of touch-down... :-(

Image

Well, in the NFL it is not uncommon to throw the football into the end-zone with 300 km/h to celebrate the touchdown. Maybe the sensors mixed it up...
 
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Thu Nov 24, 2016 1:27 pm

Unhappy:
http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space ... s_progress

"Maybe the sensors mixed it up..."

yes. Whiffs of a Lem story.
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Thu Nov 24, 2016 1:54 pm

23 November 2016

Good progress has been made in investigating the ExoMars Schiaparelli anomaly of 19 October. A large volume of data recovered from the Mars lander shows that the atmospheric entry and associated braking occurred exactly as expected.


Don't mean to be cruel, but this is akin to Mrs. Lincoln saying she enjoyed the first act of the play.

As Schiaparelli descended under its parachute, its radar Doppler altimeter functioned correctly and the measurements were included in the guidance, navigation and control system. However, saturation – maximum measurement – of the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) had occurred shortly after the parachute deployment. The IMU measures the rotation rates of the vehicle. Its output was generally as predicted except for this event, which persisted for about one second – longer than would be expected.

When merged into the navigation system, the erroneous information generated an estimated altitude that was negative – that is, below ground level. This in turn successively triggered a premature release of the parachute and the backshell, a brief firing of the braking thrusters and finally activation of the on-ground systems as if Schiaparelli had already landed. In reality, the vehicle was still at an altitude of around 3.7 km.

This behaviour has been clearly reproduced in computer simulations of the control system’s response to the erroneous information.


So the IMU put out a 'saturation' level value for the rotation rate of the vehicle for approximately one second. The nav system's response was to decide the vehicle was on the ground when in fact it was still at a 3.7 km altitude and hurtling towards the surface. Then, (a) it'd be nice to understand why the IMU produced this data and (b) it'd be nice to understand if something else could have realized the IMU data was incorrect and compensated for that.

I can imagine the project team is pretty disappointed, despite the over-the-top press releases.
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Thu Nov 24, 2016 2:06 pm

rotation: which axis?

excess pendulum movement either of the probe or probe and chute together?

if vertical axis some torsion release on the chute lines? "rubber band motor" like?
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Thu Nov 24, 2016 2:14 pm

WIederling wrote:
rotation: which axis?

excess pendulum movement either of the probe or probe and chute together?

if vertical axis some torsion release on the chute lines? "rubber band motor" like?


I was keying off the word "erroneous" and presuming this meant no real world event triggered the saturation level measurement.

Without knowing how any of this stuff works, it'd also be nice to understand how excessive roll rate was translated to a massive change in altitude.
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Thu Nov 24, 2016 4:45 pm

Murphy is an optimist
 
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Sat Nov 26, 2016 10:04 am

WIederling wrote:


If my understanding is correct a(more than one?) laser gyro saturated from excessive rate of turn.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_laser_gyroscope ( ringlaser or fiber coil? )

After that the reference frame was no longer aligned with reality. ....

Being unable to notice and cope with sensor saturation is a software defect. ( here: destructive.)
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Re: Fate of 'Life on Mars' lander in balance after descent to planet

Sat Nov 26, 2016 1:18 pm

WIederling wrote:
Being unable to notice and cope with sensor saturation is a software defect. ( here: destructive.)


It could be a situation where they planned to cope with IMU saturation but failed to do so correctly, or it could be a situation where they simply did not have a plan to deal with the IMU saturation. The later could be due to inadequate time or money to deal with all the failure modes.
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