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Odyssey Spacecraft Confirms Water On Mars

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Peter Kline, Mar 2, 2002.

  1. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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    [​IMG]
    Pictures of Mars released today by NASA show areas of hydrogen, in blue, which could indicate the presence of ice on the planet.
    March 2, 2002
    Spacecraft Sends Its First Images of Mars
    By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD
    Eleven months after its departure from Earth and four months after its arrival at Mars, the Mars Odyssey spacecraft has finally settled into its working orbit and started sending back pictures and other scientific observations of the planet.
    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration yesterday made public the mission's first mapping pictures and other data, including evidence of significant amounts of frozen water on and under the Martian surface.
    "The signal we've been getting loud and clear is that there is a lot of ice on Mars," William Boynton, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona, said at a news briefing at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., where the mission is managed.
    The findings are based on measurements showing the presence of large amounts of hydrogen, especially in a broad region from the planet's south pole to 60 degrees south latitude. Mission scientists said the hydrogen most likely indicated the presence of water ice. The extent of water ice at the north pole cannot be determined, the scientists said, because the northern hemisphere is just coming out of winter and the polar region is obscured by deep layers of frozen carbon dioxide.
    The detection of a hydrogen-enriched surface was made by three gamma-ray spectrographic instruments. When cosmic rays strike the planet's surface, they set off reactions that produce distinctive gamma rays that are in effect signatures of the chemical elements in the soil.
    In a statement, James Garvin, chief scientist of the Mars exploration program at NASA, said the preliminary assessment of the gamma- ray results indicated the likely presence of hydrogen in the upper few feet of the Martian surface. Scientists for more than two decades have speculated that Mars was not always such a cold, arid place and could have great stores of water bound in polar ice caps and permafrost.
    "Further analysis and another month or so of mapping will permit more quantitative assessment of these observations and allow for a refined interpretation," Dr. Garvin said.
    Scientists estimated that at most water probably accounts for just a small percentage of the mass of the Martian surface, but is spread over vast stretches of the landscape and extends at least as deep as three feet. Water is considered an indispensable ingredient of life, and its presence on Mars is of increasing interest to scientists who suspect that life once existed on the planet.
    The main objectives of the $300 million mission are not only to search for near-surface deposits of water, but also to map the mineral composition of the surface and examine radiation hazards that human explorers would face at Mars. The spacecraft is operating in a circular orbit 200 miles above the planet.
    The fact that the spacecraft got there at all and is sending data is a source of no little relief to NASA officials and scientists. At the last opportunity, in 1999, the agency suffered a double failure when an orbiter and a lander each crashed on approach to Mars. That forced the cancellation of a landing mission for this year and led to new management of the Mars Odyssey mission.
    Roger Gibbs, Odyssey's deputy project manager, said, "We have a very well-operating spacecraft, and the results have exceeded our expectations."
    The only serious problem, engineers said, is that the instrument for detecting radiation on and around Mars stopped communicating and had to be turned off last August. In measurements on the way, however, the instrument indicated that the daily dose of radiation astronauts would experience on such a journey would be more than twice the dose endured by astronauts in the International Space Station in Earth's orbit.
    R. Stephen Saunders, the chief project scientist, said "we've not run out of things to try" to restore the radiation-detection instrument to full operation.
    The spacecraft's camera system, designed for mapping the planet's surface mineralogy and looking for more clues to its complex geologic history, is taking pictures in visible and infrared light. The infrared instrument has produced detailed temperature maps of the Mars surface by day and night. Some of the infrared images, scientist said, are 30 times sharper than anything previously available.
    Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company
     
  2. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    I wish there were enough resolve in Washington to provide NASA with the funding it so richly deserves and to greenlight a manned mission to Mars. Fat chance. We are witnessing some of the most thrilling news in history--and, as a society, we're responding with a yawn.
     
  3. WoodyH

    WoodyH Stunt Coordinator

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    [​IMG]
    Pictures of Mars released today by NASA show giant tie-dye pattern, which could indicate the presence of Deadheads on the planet.
    March 2, 2002
    Spacecraft Sends Its First Images of Martian Hippies
    By MICHAEL "WOODY" HANSCOM
    Eleven months after its departure from Earth and four months after its arrival at Mars, the Mars Oddysey spacecraft has finally settled into its working orbit and started sending back pictures and other sicentific observations of the planet.
    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration yesterday made public the mission's first mapping pictures and other data, including evidence of significant amounts of tie-dye patterns on and under the Martian surface.
    "The signal we've been getting loud and clear is that there are a lot of hippies on Mars," William Boynton, a planetary scientist and ex-Deadhead at the University of Arizona, said at a news priefing at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calf., where the mission is managed.
    The findings are based on photos showing the presence of large multi-colored patterns, especially in a broad region from the planet's south pole to 60 degrees south latitude. Mission scientists said the patterns most likely indicated the presence of hippies. The extent of tie-dye at the North Pole cannot be determined, the scientists said, because the northern hemisphere is just coming out of winter and most outdoor tours are summertime only events.
    The detection of a tie-dyed surface was made by three gamma-ray spectrographic instruments. When cosmic rays strike the planet's surface, they set off reactions that produce distinctive gamma rays that are in effect signatures of the chemical elements in the soil.
    In a statement, James Gavin, chief scientist of the Mars exploration program at NASA and Grateful Dead historian, said the preliminary assessment of hte gamma-ray results indicated the likely presence of tie-dye in the upper few feet of the Martian surface. Scientists for more than two decades have speculated that Mars was not always such a cold, arid, silent place, and could have great music festivals, enhanced by stores of lysergic acid diethylamide bound in polar ice caps and permafrost.
    "Further analysis and another month or so of tracking the Martian tour patterns will permit more quantitative assessment of these observations and allow for a refined interpretation, man," Dr. Gavin said.
    Scientists estimated that at most, Deadheads account for just a small percentage of the hippies on the Martian surface, but are spread over vast stretches of the landscape, mixed with Phishheads and other sub-classifications of hippie. Tie-dye is considered an indispensable ingredient of hippie life, and its presence on Mars is of increasing interest to scientists who suspect that Jerry Garcia didn't die, but has merely retreated to a previously unknown hiding spot.
    The main objectives of the $300 million mission are not only to search for deposits of tie-dye, but also to map the distribution of LSD in Martian ice and examine radiation hazards that tour promoters would face when selecting concert venues. The spacecraft is operating in a circular orbit 200 miles above the planet.
    The fact that the spacecraft got there at all and is sending data is a source of no little relief to NASA officials and scientists. At the last opportunity, in 1999, the agency suffered a double failure when an orbiter and a lander each crashed on approach to Mars. That forced the cancellation of a landing mission for this year and led to new management of the Mars Odyssey mission.
    Roger Gibbs, Odyssey's deputy project manager, said, "We have a very well-operating spacecraft, man, and the results have exceeded our expectations."
    The only serious problem, engineers said, is that the instrument for detecting LSD on Mars stopped communicating and had to be turned off last August. In measurements on the way, however, the instrument indicated that the daily dose of LSD concertgoers would face during Martian concerts would be more than twice the dose endured by fans in the heyday of the Greatful Dead's Earth-bound tours.
    R. Stephen Saunders, the chief project scientist, said "can you imagine the trip that would send you on? As soon as we get the shows set, I am so there, dude."
    The spacecraft's camera system, designed for mapping the planet's surface and looking for more clues as to suitable oudoor concert venues, is taking pictures in visible and infrared light. The infrared instrument has produced detailed temperature maps of the Mars surface by day and night. Some of the infrared images, scientists said, are 30 times sharper than anything previously available, and can read the slogans painted on the sides of the VW minibuses moving the Martian hippies from show to show.
    Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company and Michael "Woody" Hanscom [​IMG]
     
  4. RicP

    RicP Screenwriter

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    Woody,
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  5. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    That settles it. We must go to Mars! Sounds better than Amsterdam, man. [​IMG]
     
  6. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    Hey, maybe it'll strengthen sales of Stranger in a Strange Land [​IMG]
    Too bad more people aren't interested in the human race making its own interplanetary explorers, instead of looking for bogus ones.
     
  7. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Amen to that!
     
  8. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    Personally, until the human race can learn to live together peaceably on this planet, I don't think we should be infecting others.
     
  9. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    That'll never happen, Jeff. So we may as well push onward and upward now.
     
  10. WoodyH

    WoodyH Stunt Coordinator

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    Glad you guys liked the parody. Soon as I saw the pic, I had to do something! [​IMG]
    On a more serious note...
    I've gotta admit, it's been bugging me for a while that in almost the same amount of time it took us to go from first getting our feet off the ground (compliments of the Wright brothers) to the moon, from the moon landing until today we've gone...well, not much of anywhere. Seems to me that if we'd kept moving at the same pace, we could be so much further along today.
    Started thinking about this recently when 2001 was in its re-release. With the possible exception of the cavernous underground moon base (funny, I never really realized just how big that base was until I saw 2001 on the big screen) and HAL's level of AI, I'm not sure there's much in the way of technology in that film that shouldn't be achieveable today. Such a shame that we're doing so little with what we've got available to us.
    And in addition to up and out, how about down? We've got to have the technology available to start moving down into the oceans safely (both for us and the environment), and if we're too scared to try to get off-planet, there's amazing possibilities for increasing the livable area of the world by heading offshore. Personally, I find the concept of looking out a window at an underwater universe about as thrilling as looking out a window at a stellar universe.
    Ah, well...hopefully I'll be able to see some real advances before I die (and at only 28 years of age, I think I've got a fair chance of that...[​IMG]).
     
  11. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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  12. Julie K

    Julie K Screenwriter

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    And while we're enjoying these remarkably early results from Odyssey, remember that two large rovers will be launched next summer. I'm quite excited about these: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mer
     
  13. Ashley Seymour

    Ashley Seymour Supporting Actor

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    Jack,

     
  14. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    NASA will never get the funding it needs to make the kind of progress it could, especially not now, for reasons we aren't allowed to discuss here. The only reason we got into space in the first place was to try to one up the commies, so until Saddam starts a space program, don't expect Washington to be very enthused about it. Right now funding is much better spent on things to promote a positive future, like bombs and missiles.
     
  15. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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    While deep space probes can search the solar system for possible life on other planets, Manned missions are still very necessary. Otherwise the following could simply not be done:

    03/03/2002*-*Updated*06:33 AM*ET

    SPACE CENTER, Houston (AP) — Space shuttle Columbia captured the Hubble Space Telescope early Sunday in preparation for a tuneup the crew will give the orbiting observatory.

    After chasing the telescope for nearly two days, the shuttle caught it approximately 360 miles above the Pacific Ocean southwest of Mexico as the pair hurtled around the Earth at about 17,000 mph. Starting early Monday morning, two pairs of astronauts are set to perform five spacewalks on five consecutive days to install new equipment and parts on Hubble.

    Astronaut Nancy Currie used the shuttle's 50-foot-long robotic arm to grab the telescope from orbit. After capturing it, Currie moved Hubble down into Columbia's payload bay and anchored it to a circular work platform.

    "Outstanding work. There's a big sigh of relief we heard from Goddard all the way here," Mission Control told the crew, referring to Hubble's flight controllers at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

    "I think it echoed up here as well," responded Scott Altman, Columbia's commander.

    Sunlight gleamed off Hubble's orange solar arrays, which will be replaced during the spacewalks.

    "It's great to see an old friend," said astronaut John Grunsfeld as the shuttle approached the telescope shortly before it was captured. Grunsfeld worked on Hubble, which is 43.5 feet long and weighs 12.5 tons, during its last tuneup in December 1999.

    There was concern Columbia might not have been able to proceed with its servicing mission because of a problem with a radiator line used to shed heat from shuttle electronics. The trouble had threatened to cut short the flight.

    But mission managers Saturday afternoon, while the seven astronauts slept, decided the reduced flow of Freon in the line would be sufficient for the rest of the 11-day mission, including landing, when the shuttle systems' heat load increases.

    The shuttle crew was told of the good news when it was awakened Saturday evening by the theme music from "Mission: Impossible."

    "Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to rendezvous and grapple the Hubble Space Telescope and then spend five days massively re-outfitting and upgrading the telescope," Mission Control radioed. "This tape will self-destruct in five seconds."

    The problem in one of two coolant loops was noticed after Columbia reached orbit following its launch Friday.

    The contamination in the line may be solder or wiring left over from welding that was part of Columbia's extensive two-year overhaul, said mission director Phil Engelauf. Even though the pipe was cleaned, residue could have remained inside and been knocked loose by the force of liftoff.

    Engelauf said that since the problem first cropped up, engineers have become more comfortable with the reduced flow of Freon in the line and think the situation will not worsen.

    This is the fourth service call to Hubble.

    During the spacewalks, astronauts will equip Hubble with more rigid and energy efficient solar wings; a new power-control unit; a more reliable steering mechanism; a refrigeration system to revive a disabled infrared camera; and an advanced camera to increase the telescope's capability for discovery by 10 times.
     
  16. Ashley Seymour

    Ashley Seymour Supporting Actor

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    We soon will have ground based telecsopes that surpass the amazing resoution of Hubble.

    I might even argue that funds necessary to insure proper quality control on the Hubble prior to launch was drained off by the manned space program, but I'll concede that the Hubble was intended to be launched by the Space Shuttle and serviced on a periodic basis.

    I am not so much opposed to manned space exploration as I am willing to wait until technology catches up to our goals.
     
  17. Kevin Coleman

    Kevin Coleman Second Unit

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    The primary goal of a manned mission to Mars is to search for signs of life, past or present. The only way we can effectively do that is to send people not robots. We need to be able to dig under rocks, follow the water and use our human intuition to search for life on Mars. It will be many many years before robots on Mars would be able to do the same type of science that humans can do today. In a sense, humans are by far the most sophisticated tools that exist.
    I stongly disagree with those who say we should send robots.
    Kevin C. [​IMG]
     
  18. Dan B

    Dan B Screenwriter

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    Woody, that was the funniest post ever! Thank you.

     
  19. Ashley Seymour

    Ashley Seymour Supporting Actor

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  20. Josh_Hill

    Josh_Hill Screenwriter

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    Great news. I really hope NASA gets the funding it needs to find out more.
     

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