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NASA's Curiosity  (Source: nasa.gov)
After launching Saturday, MSL is in good health and ready to continue its long journey to Mars

NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft blasted off towards the Red Planet this past weekend, and a recent signal from the MSL indicated that everything was proceeding as planned.
 
On November 26, NASA’s MSL, also known as the Curiosity rover, was sent to Mars via the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. It took off from Space Launch Complex 41 on the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
 
NASA rover Curiosity is a $2.5 billion nuclear-powered machine meant for the exploration of Mars in hopes of finding evidence of microscopic life. It is the size of a Mini Cooper, and about four times as heavy as the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers. Curiosity has a large robot arm, a weather station, a laser that can vaporize rocks at seven meters, a percussive drill, and 4.8kg of plutonium-238.
 
After separating from the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, officials back on the ground received a signal from the rover that all was well and that Curiosity is on its way to Mars.
 
“Our spacecraft is in excellent health and it’s on its way to Mars,” said Pete Theisinger, MSL Project Manager from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
 
It will take about eight and a half months for Curiosity to travel 345 million miles to Mars. When it finally arrives in August 2012, it will be lowered onto the Martian surface in a protective aeroshell via a jet pack and tether system. Curiosity will then explore the Gale Crater for at least two years, which is an area that is rich in minerals and may provide clues as to whether Mars had or has life.
 
“Science fiction is now science fact,” said Doug McCuisition, director of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters. “We’re flying to Mars. We’ll get it on the ground, and see what we find.”
 
Curiosity is NASA’s most sophisticated Mars rover, and the space agency expects the rover to put about 12 miles on its odometer during this venture. It is also the third space mission to launch since the retirement of the NASA space shuttle fleet.
 
“Mars really is the Bermuda Triangle of the solar system,” said Colleen Hartman, assistant associate administrator for science at NASA. “It’s the death planet, and the United States of America is the only nation in the world that has ever landed and driven robotic explorers on the surface of Mars, and now we’re set to do it again.”

Source: NASA



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We need a new Space Race...
By Boze on 11/28/2011 9:39:07 AM , Rating: 2
...and this time, the prize needs to be First Successful Human Landing on Mars. Of course, there's also that pesky problem of launching off the surface and getting back to Earth... but hey, that's the point of a Space Race! To figure out all those crazy problems!




RE: We need a new Space Race...
By WinstonSmith on 11/28/2011 10:37:41 AM , Rating: 2
But long before that happens, there needs to be a very large number of rovers/probes landed on Mars to find out where it's best to land. That logical point was made in the NASA's Curiosity post-launch press conference.


RE: We need a new Space Race...
By kleinma on 11/28/2011 11:03:51 AM , Rating: 3
And long before that happens the Govt needs to actually put more money into NASA instead of cutting its budget. Otherwise we will be playing second string to countries like China who's space program is behind ours but rapidly catching up thanks to more funding and using much of US technology to do so.


RE: We need a new Space Race...
By Lord 666 on 11/28/2011 11:22:19 AM , Rating: 1
A different approach is to put space back into the thoughts of the general public.

To do so, why not bring about a new age; sex in space with the hope of conceiving and delivery of a child. To make it interesting, use adult movie stars or tabloid celebrities and charge pay per view. Think Jersey Shore, but in space.


RE: We need a new Space Race...
By Lord 666 on 11/28/2011 12:45:23 PM , Rating: 2
Cracking myself up on my own post. I can't get the sound bite of "Pigs in space" out of my head when thinking thinking of Snookie orbiting our planet.


RE: We need a new Space Race...
By quiksilvr on 11/28/2011 12:46:15 PM , Rating: 2
We need more money in space, but it should no longer be the government's responsibility. With Boeing, Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, and Honeywell diving more and more into the aerospace field, we can finally lift the space burden onto the private sector instead of the public.

I believe the space program is more of a public-to-private program. In other words, its a program that is fully funded by the government initially, then businesses see viability for profits and compete with the government sector. Eventually, that program is picked up by the private sector and the government phases the program out. It's what's happening to the post office and what is eventually going to happen to space.


RE: We need a new Space Race...
By ender707 on 11/28/2011 1:31:41 PM , Rating: 2
Private sector companies are loyal to $$$, not the U.S.

I would rather have NASA improved than have our capabilities sold to private interests.

Not to mention that the government (or, you and I if you think about it) are still the ones paying for it.


RE: We need a new Space Race...
By ameriman on 12/1/2011 6:53:31 PM , Rating: 2
The Private sector feeds us, clothes us, houses us, provides us 100% of our goods/services/strength/prosperity...

Government provides only sloth, waste, corruption, incompetence... and Govt's GREED has us $15 trillion in debt.

NASA has spent $500 billion over 40 years without a single American more than 300 miles from earth...

And you want to hand NASA hundreds of $billions more, more decades more..

BS.. I haven't got another 40 years to wait on pork filed, political Govt BS...

Let's give Free Enterprise innovation, initiative, efficiency, can-do result orientation a chance..

The US manned space program is TOO IMPORTANT to be further entrusted to our political, greedy, wasteful, parasitic Federal Govt.


RE: We need a new Space Race...
By ameriman on 12/1/2011 7:00:04 PM , Rating: 2
US Taxpayers fund NASA at nearly $20 billion per year....

NASA blew 40 years, $220 billion on a dead-end boondoggle unaffordable/impractical Space Shuttle, $160+ billion on a useless pork Space Station, and $20 billion on it's failed/canceled Constellation Govt rocket...

Meanwhile, for less than $300 million, in less than 5 years private enterprise SpaceX developed 2 new boosters and a manned capsule...

You can either be for a rational, efficient, robust, sustainable US manned space program, or you can be for big govt NASA... but not both.

And you


RE: We need a new Space Race...
By Omega215D on 11/29/2011 12:02:31 PM , Rating: 2
As long as they don't let Howard Wolowitz crash any more rovers... =P

On a side note, stories like these are sure to attract religious fanatics and moon hoax believers with their "NASA are crooks" mode of thinking.


Nuclear
By Ringold on 11/28/2011 9:52:23 AM , Rating: 2
See what sort of awesome stuff can be done in space science when we use nuclear RTGs instead of relying on troublesome, weak solar panels? I wish NASA could ignore the environmental protestors and make far greater use of the technology. Solar panels work okay in some situations, but moving further out in the solar system, they're just too weak, and on Mars they tend to get covered in dust to boot.




RE: Nuclear
By teldar on 11/28/2011 11:10:09 AM , Rating: 1
Not disagreeing, but that's a shitton of 238. I don't know if they are recovering it from old warheads or what, but I would imagine that would take a hell of a long time to get from a huge amount of uranium.


RE: Nuclear
By geddarkstorm on 11/28/2011 4:08:00 PM , Rating: 2
Sadly, we are running out of that type of plutonium. From what I've read, Curiosity may have used the last amounts we had useful for this type of endeavor. Don't know if that's true though.


RE: Nuclear
By Ringold on 11/30/2011 2:18:33 PM , Rating: 2
Correct, the government stopped producing it after environmentalists created too much backlash. The probe heading to Pluto, forgot its name, was launched with less plutonium then originally intended due to the shortage, but it hopefully wont impact its science too much.

We're too afraid of our own shadow to get things like that done any more.


RE: Nuclear
By kattanna on 11/29/2011 12:30:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Solar panels work okay in some situations


another BIG limitation is the time the rover can be actually moving. With solar the existing rovers are limited to a hand full of hours a day they can be moving.

with nuclear, this rover will be able to move all 24 hours and 39 minutes of its day, and it will not have to shutdown for the winter completely like the existing ones have to do, further extending their range of exploration.


Careful what you seach for...
By CrazyBernie on 11/28/2011 10:23:46 AM , Rating: 5
We don't want to open any Gates to Hell... >.>




Any word on
By Amiga500 on 11/28/2011 10:04:16 AM , Rating: 2
Phobos-Grunt?

It still in a holding pattern in high orbit?




RE: Any word on
By maven81 on 11/28/2011 1:04:17 PM , Rating: 2
You can get good coverage of that mission from Russian sources:
http://www.russianspaceweb.com/phobos_grunt_launch...


Religious implications
By AntiM on 11/28/11, Rating: -1
RE: Religious implications
By CosmoJoe on 11/28/2011 11:41:10 AM , Rating: 5
The Bible has never explicitly said that there is not life on other planets. Christians should have no issue with there being life on other planets; it doesn't nullify anything about the story of creation.


RE: Religious implications
By AntiM on 11/28/11, Rating: 0
RE: Religious implications
By DougF on 11/28/2011 2:06:17 PM , Rating: 4
Genesis 2, Verse 1: "And the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them." Ergo, God created the Universe, all the galaxies, all the stars, all the planets, etc.
...And it wasn't the Christian Church that declared the Earth to be the center of the universe--that one's on the Babylonians and others up to the Greeks, but Ptolemy is normally accredited with the concept. So, changing the viewpoint from Earth-centered didn't and still doesn't affect the Bible. Neither does the Flat Earth, Young Earth, Ye Olde Earthe, Evolution, Quantum Chromium Dynamics, String Theory, Germ Theory, Plate Tectonics, Relativity, the "M" theory or "Brane" theory, the Doppler effect, etc.

Secondly, Galileo Galilei never "proved" anything. He observed and taught based on his observations (and others such as Copernicus). The Church listened to his argument, asked him to prove it, and he failed. He couldn't because the math hadn't been invented yet (see: Isaac Newton). The Church then asked him to not teach it anymore but Galileo decided he knew better and defied the Church. Galileo was then excommunicated for being in defiance of the Church.

At the end of the Roman Empire, there was a power vacuum and the Christian Church stepped in to provide some basic stability to the European area (and let's be honest here: as well as entrench it's position as the dominant religion). Soon, all "power" in Europe stemmed from the Church; political, economic, religious, education, etc. Changes to any accepted notion had to be cleared through the dogma the Church had accepted as "Truth". Changes did happen, but very slowly and under the watchful eye of the Church. Once the European continent revived enough to reassert control independent of the Church, the Church reluctantly had it's power over non-religious areas taken away by various secular entities (again, being honest: through a series of often violent clashes over several hundred years).

None of this detracts in any way from the message in the Bible, which is: God loves us and is always willing to forgive any and all sins, for simply accepting Him as our savior through his son, Jesus Christ. We can argue all day long about the role of MAN in the Church and subsequent control of secular processes on Earth and whether that should be an appropriate thing to do. But the primary message has not changed in over two millenium, nor will it.

And no, Christianity will not fall apart should life be detected elsewhere, or even intelligent aliens. They too, will be offered the same salvation Christians offer everyone on this world; the love of God and his plan of eternal salvation for anyone who follows his path.


RE: Religious implications
By geddarkstorm on 11/28/2011 4:04:00 PM , Rating: 2
Never mind the fact that the angels of the Bible are extraterrestrial (not from Earth) intelligent life forms. Ones that could be said to exist on altogether different plane of existence, but still alien to our world and intelligent. God made them, so why would we assume to be so special as to be the only intelligent life made in this universe?

In short: what you said.


RE: Religious implications
By Belard on 11/28/2011 6:27:19 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Genesis 2, Verse 1: "And the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them." Ergo, God created the Universe, all the galaxies, all the stars, all the planets, etc.


Saying that God created the heavens for the Earth / humans... yet theres proof and common sense that the Universe wasn't created for mankind.

Religion was needed for social structure, to explain the lights in the sky. In which most of them are galaxies. There are more galaxies than there are humans. "God" - in any of our religions, has all the limitations of man for obvious reasons.

When the earth blows up (by its own or we do it) - the Universe will not notice.


RE: Religious implications
By karlostomy on 11/28/2011 7:05:55 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
None of this detracts in any way from the message in the Bible, which is: God loves us and is always willing to forgive any and all sins, for simply accepting Him as our savior through his son, Jesus Christ.


It is so sad that Christians are able to delude themselves into thinking that this is the message of the bible.

I guess they like to forget the overwhelming passages of the bible that describe their God's insecurity, jealousy, rage, rape, murder, genocide and abhorrent lack of love.

I guess it's best to ignore those bits?


RE: Religious implications
By karlostomy on 11/28/2011 7:14:53 PM , Rating: 2
As a nice example, here's some of what the bible is really about.

http://www.evilbible.com/

It's not pretty... when we consider the truth without the brainwashing.


RE: Religious implications
By Digimonkey on 11/28/2011 7:23:53 PM , Rating: 2
Oh don't you know, God makes up rules to fit the societies he cares about. Surely not the other way around.


RE: Religious implications
By callmeroy on 11/30/2011 8:54:59 AM , Rating: 2
That's the problem you said Catholic church.... :)

As a believer my deepest points of conflict isn't struggling if God really exists or not....its topics like trying to figure out the Catholic Church...as much as I believe in trying to be a good Christian...do good by others and good will come to me as a philosophy and all that sort of think....surprisingly I have a great deal of disgust for strict adherence to the Catholic Churcn...there's a LOT of things that don't line up with my vision of God, what it means to believe and just my general philosophy that have adopted over the nearly 40 years of my life thus far.

So yeah I'm a Christian in the sense I believe in Jesus Christ but I take with caution what the Cathothic churcn says...


RE: Religious implications
By delphinus100 on 11/28/11, Rating: 0
RE: Religious implications
By Strunf on 11/28/2011 12:43:49 PM , Rating: 3
Funny I had a discussion with some Jehovah's Witnesses and for them it's a non issue, god created everything including life on other planets. The fact is, there will never be a way to prove god doesn't exist, hell even if you manage to search the whole universe and you don't find him they can always say he lives in another one, good luck with that!


RE: Religious implications
By ClownPuncher on 11/28/2011 7:51:05 PM , Rating: 2
Which is why I'm content with letting religious folks have their beliefs. At least the sane, non-proselytizing, ones


RE: Religious implications
By Argon18 on 11/28/2011 12:49:17 PM , Rating: 2
Please, do tell us about the Biblical creation story. Somehow, I suspect you've never read it. Sounds to me like another confused atheist, arrogant enough to form conclusions about a book he's never read.


RE: Religious implications
By maven81 on 11/28/2011 1:14:25 PM , Rating: 1
Nice try, but if you read the sequence of events in the genesis story, god doesn't create the sun, the moon, and the stars until the 4th day. Note it wouldn't matter at all if one god day was a billion years in this instance. The sequence itself is demonstrably false as it also has the oceans being created before land and so on. So, are you arrogant enough to claim you can overturn the sciences of cosmology, geology and astronomy?


RE: Religious implications
By troysavary on 11/28/2011 7:54:16 PM , Rating: 2
If Moses was writing about what he saw in a vision of creation from the point of view of a person standing on the surface of the earth, the sun, moon, and stars would not be seen until after light was seen. Most of the water was in the air in the form of clouds until God separated the waters of the sky from the waters of the ground. The heavy cloud cover would have allowed enough light to filter through to see by, but would have blocked the celetial bodies from view. The order as presented in the Bible actually fits the order of events as presented by science if you look at it with the understading that Moses wrote exactly what he saw without understanding it.


RE: Religious implications
By maven81 on 11/29/2011 11:42:14 AM , Rating: 2
Seems to me like you don't understand neither the science nor the religion. Where does it say that these events are Moses' vision of what happened? And furthermore as I said if the entire surface was covered by an ocean what would he be standing on exactly? There was no surface remember? All of which is of course moot because when the earth was created it did not have an ocean OR an atmosphere. All of that came later. One could keep going here, but you clearly don't see that none of this makes sense.


RE: Religious implications
By woody1 on 11/28/11, Rating: 0
RE: Religious implications
By LRonaldHubbs on 11/29/2011 8:08:28 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The findings of life on other planets would disturb some religious people, but most would reject the idea, just as they reject other scientific views that challenge their faith-driven beliefs.

I disagree. Extremely religious folks may reject the idea, but moderates will accept it, just as they accept evolution and other scientific facts. The groups that generally have issues with science and actual provable facts are 1) the wingnuts who take the Bible literally and 2) people who are willfully ignorant and make no effort to understand science or even their own religion.

It's understandable that you'd think this, because the two groups that I've outlined above get the most attention (sadly). However, there are plenty of religious moderates out there that do value science.


RE: Religious implications
By Mclendo06 on 11/28/2011 3:19:35 PM , Rating: 2
The Biblical story of creation is about establishing the relationship between God and man; it is not a scientific commentary. Saying that a scientific observation nullifies the story's validity with regard to its intended purpose is as fallacious as saying that the story of creation nullifies scientific observations. Both stances are commonly taken by different sides, and both are wrong.


RE: Religious implications
By TSS on 11/28/2011 4:17:04 PM , Rating: 3
Existance of life outside of earth will do nothing to change the validity of all religions.

Even if we find God himself, it will do nothing the change the validity of all religions.


RE: Religious implications
By karlostomy on 11/28/2011 7:08:58 PM , Rating: 2
All you have done is show that delusion is immune to reason.


RE: Religious implications
By jr9k on 11/29/2011 4:44:57 AM , Rating: 2
They've got that possibility covered in John 10:16

quote:
I have other sheep, which are not of this fold


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