Congress, NASA

Schiff fighting for Mars exploration, robotic and human

Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), whose current district includes JPL and Pasadena, has been a strong advocate for NASA’s planetary science program and, specifically, Mars exploration. On Saturday, he reiterated his desire to see to reverse cuts to those programs while also pushing for better goals for the nation’s space program.

“We have too long drifted without a strategic vision for space that can survive changes of administration as well as congressional appropriations cycles,” Schiff told attendees of the International Mars Society Convention in Pasadena. “Now, as we prepare to celebrate Curiosity’s arrival on Mars, we face the urgent need to set new goals and reinvigorate the space program.”

Schiff said he believes a logical long-term goal for NASA’s exploration efforts is Mars. He said he thinks the Mars Program Planning Group, commissioned by NASA earlier this year to review NASA’s Mars strategy, will recommend a path that calls for a human landing on Mars by the 2030s, a decade before a sample return mission. He called on attendees to petition their congressional representatives “for an increase in NASA’s budget as well as a national commitment to lead an effort to put humans on Mars by a date certain. Without persistence and clarity, we will continue to drift.”

Taking a more tactical approach, Schiff asked convention attendees to continue efforts to restore NASA’s planetary science budget, which have met with some success in the reduced cuts in the appropriations bills working through the House and Senate. “We still have a long way to go, and it is my hope that as we go to conference—if we go to conference—we can increase those numbers further,” he said. He warned, though, that the recent deal for a six-month continuing resolution could include some across-the-board budget cuts. “The impact on Mars will depend on how NASA allocates funds in its operating plans,” which in turn depends on guidance it receives from OMB.

“The immediate future is murky, and we need your help,” he said, suggesting that NASA was surprised by the reaction to the planned cuts since their announcement in February. “The only thing that has rescued us from the severity of what the administration proposed was the fact that planetary scientists like you have been making their voices heard and loudly,” he said. (Most of the audience of the Mars Society conference are better classified as enthusiasts and activists than as scientists, though.) “And I think frankly it has astounded the administration that you have spoken with such boldness and clarity.”

Schiff said he believes Mars was targeted for cuts because the administration thought there would be, at best, a muted reaction and little opposition. “They have been astounded by the fury of the pushback, and that is the only thing that has saved us so far.”

187 comments to Schiff fighting for Mars exploration, robotic and human

  • Oink, oink, oink … He’s only saying this because JPL is in his district.

    As he ever expressed the slightest bit of concern about other areas of NASA that aren’t in his district?

  • vulture4

    Schiff should point out the obvious – the reason Mars is being cut is that all the money NASA has and more is being sucked into the bottomless maw of Constellation SLS/Orion. By the time it is finally cancelled in five years or so it will have consumed between $50B and $100B.

  • DCSCA

    “Schiff said he believes Mars was targeted for cuts because the administration thought there would be, at best, a muted reaction and little opposition.”

    Uh, no, in fact, there’s quite a bit of ‘opposition’ in ‘conjunction’ w/planetary probes like Curiosity broaching the $2.5 billion mark in a time of massive deficits and with the government borrowing 42 cents of every dollar it spends.

    These kind of fuzzy-goaled, gold-plated, big science boondoggles are increasingly viewed by the cash-strapped taxpayers burdened with the costs as little more than ‘make work’ for an elite group at the expense of the many.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    Agreed about Schiff having blinders on about JPL. In that context, it’s worth noting that Schiff partners effectively across the aisle with Texas congressman John Culberson. Culberson’s TX-7 district is in Houston, but not anywhere near JSC (which doesn’t have significant roles in most planetary science missions anyway). The two of them have made a strong team for space science advocacy. Culberson does this because his just loves the stuff. He’s an amateur astronomer.

    Both are on House Commerce. They did a nice commentary together in defense of planetary science a few months ago in Space News. http://www.spacenews.com/commentaries/120220-dont-gut-planetary-science.html

    So my point is that there are congressfolk who, with regard to space, can see beyond their own district.

  • DCSCA

    Congrats to the NASA/JPL team on the successful touchdown of Curiosity.

    Rube Goldberg would be proud. But then, he’s dead and doesn’t have to help pay the $2.5 billion bill.

  • Aerospace Engineer

    Mars Curiosity touchdown. Let’s hear it from all you NASA haters now….
    Too big. Too complicated. Too expensive……. Too bad. Cutting edge, baby. US leadership, baby.

    Let’s cut JPL some more, right?

  • Googaw

    The MSL landing this evening was a great event. My joy and congratulations and gratitude go out to my former employers in Pasadena for a job well done.

    That said, this looks like a blatant attempt by Schiff to get the support of astronaut fans for further unmanned Mars missions, by again teasing the grandiose fantasies of heavenly heroes on Mars. NASA is in fact completely unserious about sending people to Mars — witness the fact that no astronaut has stayed at the ISS for anything remotely close to Mars mission durations. In reality sending astronauts to Mars would be a death sentence — or if they are lucky, only permanent disability. Even if they did get to Mars in shape to do any work they’d be useless, but they wouldn’t get to Mars in any shape to work, if they got there alive at all. Blindness, muscle wasting, bone loss — the only unknown is which malady would cripple them or kill them first.

  • William Mellberg

    Congratulations to the team that designed and built Curiosity and its unique “Sky Crane” landing system. It was an exciting bit of history. And now the real work can get underway on Mars. But getting there was the biggest hurdle. A very impressive piece of engineering!

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    Yes congrat’s to JPL and all those involved with MSL. It was an auditious plan and full of risk. Could very easily ended up a crater on Mars. But it didn’t so full marks to all involved.
    That said, it remains to be seen just whether the returned science is worth $2.5 billion and whether the U.S. has long enough pockets to propose something similar again.
    As I’ve asked before, does this end with a sustainable science settlement on Mars or is it simply a one-off designed to employ Mars geologist, et al, until the next flagship mission comes along? Just asking.

  • James

    Congratulations to the team at JPL;

    I wonder how it felt to be in Times Square watching the JPL team real time experience the drama and exhilaration of the landing. And that Adam fellow; he’s a superstar geek! I bet he shows up on the morning news shows.

    Congratulations as well to JPL for ensuring it will never be shut down or consolidated. Too much of an American icon now, with Times Square creds to anchor it in the US psyche.

  • vulture4

    It’s wonderful that it succeeded, but it’s unfortunate that each major Mars mission since Viking is justified by saying it will answer the “big question”. Mars is a big planet, with a surface area as large as the land area of Earth. It will take forever to answer all the questions. There is no way one lander, no matter how sophisticated, can do more than scratch the surface.

    The principal advances of the mission were the nuclear power source and the skycrane landing system, and they were not significant factors in the cost growth. A second, identical spaccraft bus could be built for a fraction of the cost of the first. If JPL had accepted performance limitations on the science payloads, kept the cost down, and stuck to the original of sending a pair of missions every two years, in a decade we would know much more.

    That said, taxpayer support for basic science of any sort is driven to a great extent by the number and determination of the people who are willing to stand up and support it, and they are to be congratulated.

  • amightywind

    Flat out fantastic result from the JPL! Wow!

  • amightywind

    Rube Goldberg would be proud. But then, he’s dead and doesn’t have to help pay the $2.5 billion bill.

    I’m getting my $7 worth already and we’ve hardly seen any pictures. Good thing too, I’m getting tired of the Endeavor Crater background image on my computer. Rube Goldberg. Hardly. The Skycrane meets the requirements of landing a large vehicle softly on the planet most admirably. What parts would you have them leave off?

  • Heinrich Monroe

    These kind of fuzzy-goaled, gold-plated, big science boondoggles are increasingly viewed by the cash-strapped taxpayers burdened with the costs as little more than ‘make work’ for an elite group at the expense of the many.

    That may be your view, but the statement that they are increasingly the views of taxpayers is highly arguable. I do a lot of outreach work in the community, and the excitement and commitment to projects like this, and respect and support for the people who do them, seems to be increasing, rather than decreasing. Do you have any good evidence for this statement of yours?

    I will say that in the public eye, association with NASA is increasingly seen as a demerit. That’s too bad. That taxpayers are “burdened” with NASA costs is pretty hard to defend, given that NASA as a whole consumes about 0.6% of the federal budget. Ouch! Are we talking straws breaking camels backs? But yes, the public generally thinks it consumes a lot more.

  • James

    ” These kind of fuzzy-goaled, gold-plated, big science boondoggles are increasingly viewed by the cash-strapped taxpayers burdened with the costs as little more than ‘make work’ for an elite group at the expense of the many”

    Times Square was packed with folks excited about the landing. I didn’t see any pitch forks demanding folks get their $7 back.

    Having said that, not sure what future holds for 2018 or 2020 Mars window; cash strapped NASA will be hard pressed to ever mount a similar mission as long as we continue to drown in debt as a nation.

  • Good afternoon.

    Vulture4 is on the right track. amightywind has touched on this theme in the past and I am sure someone of significance within NASA has already considered the following:

    Should we not replicate MSL at a fraction of the cost, and have a mini-squad of Curiosity rovers at various points at the same time? Has anyone considered the cost of a rapid duplication to fill the missed Mars launch window? Could ULA or SpaceX slip an extra launch into their pre-scheduled launch manifest? Could they add the high resolution camera that James Cameron was trying to develop but just barely missed finishing during the two year budget delay?

    Would Rep Schiff or others push for something like that?

    Just questions that should be asked by taxpayers before spending any money.

    (But it all depends on a current working ‘drill’ on Mars)

    :)

    Gary Anderson

  • Mary

    Congratulations on a job well done JPL. Now NASA, scrap the SLS and apply it to a workhorse medium HLV for Lunar and Mars. Are you listening Mittens?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Heinrich Monroe wrote @ August 6th, 2012 at 9:33 am
    “I will say that in the public eye, association with NASA is increasingly seen as a demerit. That’s too bad. That taxpayers are “burdened” with NASA costs is pretty hard to defend, given that NASA as a whole consumes about 0.6% of the federal budget. Ouch! Are we talking straws breaking camels backs? But yes, the public generally thinks it consumes a lot more.”

    I enjoy your thoughtful and thought provoking post enormously…I would say this to your last paragraph.

    “seen as a demerit”…there are a few things at issue here…they are all bad. NASA as a group underperforms in projects and understates in cost a great deal…there is a group in the US that mocks government efforts as a function of its politics (the right wing of the GOP) and…we have small leaders today.

    Ronald Reagan or Jack Kennedy (Bill Clinton as well) were people of enormous leadership ability and in part because they could communicate things to the general populace that only peridically tunes in …in such a way to make them useful perhaps in some cases beyond their real immediate value. We dont have that today.

    The best of the lot today is Obama but most of his speeches are “salad” with some modest efforts at croutons or maybe some effort at a chiefs salad, but not most of the time. Romney is just jello barely rising above incoherence in most of his speeches…Sarah Palin just screeches and uses big words hoping that some of them mean something.

    It was not only that Reagan and Kennedy had great speech writers and of course could deliver it…BUT THEY HAD A CLUE about what they wanted to do as president and could weave almost anything and any event into that “quilt”.

    Without that leadership to put things in context most events just occur and there is little “weaving” for the people to do with individual events.

    As for the money at NASA…the fact that it is not in context of the federal government does not really in my view justify it being spent badly.

    IT IS ALL the money that the US is spending on civilian space development and when it is spent badly or misdirected then its just not a good thing…and most Americans figure that out.

    I am glad the Mars Rover landed in one piece, but it wont matter soon the excitement of the landing will fade and it will produce little or nothing that one of our mealy mouth pols can weave into something larger…and before long the story will be “how many college degrees could we have gotten for the billions…” and that will be Webb as well.

    The federal government (and state and local governments) are not about efficient spending; it never has and never will be…but it is spending which on the whole moves the US from the place it is now to the place it will be in the future…the new status quo…and most of the spending at NASA does nothing but defend the current status quo

    RGO

  • @Aerospace Engineer
    “Mars Curiosity touchdown. Let’s hear it from all you NASA haters now….
    Too big. Too complicated. Too expensive……. Too bad. Cutting edge, baby. US leadership, baby.”

    All I can tell you is that I was for Curiosity from the get go and am not a NASA hater. The only thing I’m against is SLS that was forced on NASA by pork barrel politicians. SLS is indeed, “Too big. Too complicated. Too Expensive” and also lacks a major saving grace of Curiosity: SLS is not “Cutting edge” by a long shot baby. I’d like to see it gone so that we can see more things like Curiosity done and also extend human spaceflight beyond LEO.

    Congrats to everyone associated with Curiosity. And for once, I am totally in agreement with amightywind, “Flat out fantastic result from the JPL! Wow!”

  • Anthony Cook

    Stephen C. Smith,

    Actually, Schiff took action in 2010 that kept Congress from gutting CCDev, a move that does not directly affect his district. I am impressed with the interest that he takes in NASA and science in general. It seems to me that, while he is protective of JPL, it is not “pork” that motivates him. I disagree with many of his political priorities, but I think your characterization of his space advocacy is unfair.

  • Rhyolite

    Congratulations to JPL and NASA. I must admit the sky crane had a pretty high pucker factor for me so relieved that they pulled it off flawlessly. USA takes the gold in extraterrestrial landings once again. USA! USA! USA!

  • Neil H.

    I think the key thing distinguishing Schiff from folks like Shelby is that he argues for funding on the basis of actual accomplishments, rather than simply arguing on the basis of jobs created in his district.

  • amightywind

    amightywind has touched on this theme in the past…

    Indeed. With the successful landing of MSL my only question is why the heck not send a duplicate in 2014? JPL engineers are now looking for something to do. You could easily fund the project with the $1 billion/yr being set alight by the ‘commercial manned space project’.

  • Coastal Ron

    Gary Anderson wrote @ August 6th, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Should we not replicate MSL at a fraction of the cost, and have a mini-squad of Curiosity rovers at various points at the same time?

    I don’t see the question as being “if” we should do that, but “when” as when is the rover sophisticated enough to merit sending lots of them.

    For instance, sending a fleet of Sojourner-like rovers wouldn’t have been a good idea because it’s level of capability was rather limited. Great for being the first, but not really worth sending more.

    We did send two of the “Mars Exploration Rover” – Opportunity and Spirit – and they proved to be pretty capable. But capable enough to send a bunch more?

    The “Mars Science Laboratory” Curiosity looks like it could be a good model to duplicate a lot of, but then that begs the question of how important is it to do this kind of dirt-level science?

    Does it help us get humans to Mars? No, not really. Oh sure it helped us test out the sky crane method of reaching the surface, but that’s one of the last technological hurtles we have to worry about. Staying alive in space for two years, in high radiation environments, on durable spacecraft – that is the higher priority. If sending humans to Mars is the goal.

    We could build a rover that is an analog for a human mission, and that might actually make sense. Two birds with one stone, so to speak. It would make sense for our future Mars vehicles to be remotely operated if needed, so why not send one ahead of a future Mars human mission?

    But I’m not sure if it makes sense to build more MSL’s.

  • vulture4

    Or … we could fund a whole squadron of Mars rovers with the money that could be saved by dropping SLS/Orion. Just a thought.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “With the successful landing of MSL my only question is why the heck not send a duplicate in 2014?”

    Because the highest flagship-class priority of the planetary science community is Mars sample return, not another rover.

    Because MSL development took 7.5 years from instrument call to launch, not 2 years.

    Because the MSL rover design requires RTGs, and there’s not enough Pu in the inventory for another mission.

    “You could easily fund the project with the $1 billion/yr”

    Even if all the issues above were addressed, there’s no way a second MSL would come in at $1 billion. MSL is a $2.5 billion mission to date and climbing.

    “being set alight by the ‘commercial manned space project’.”

    If you want to rapidly field a production line of affordable Mars spacecraft, then you have to look to people who know how to build production lines and affordable spacecraft:

    Red Dragon: Feasibility of a Dragon-derived Mars lander for scientific
    and human-precursor investigations
    http://digitalvideo.8m.net/SpaceX/RedDragon/karcz-red_dragon-nac-2011-10-29-1.pdf

    Ice Dragon: A Mission to Address Science and Human Exploration Objectives on Mars
    http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/marsconcepts2012/pdf/4176.pdf

    Red Dragon-MSL Hybrid Landing Architecture for 2018
    http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/marsconcepts2012/pdf/4216.pdf

  • Robert G. Oler

    Gary Anderson wrote @ August 6th, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    a lot of things could happen but I doubt there is going to be a Curiosity number 2 anytime soon.

    According to Dwayne Day over at Space Review the various studies that the folks who make Mars policy are such that they dont want multiple rovers…their theory was to sacrifice just about everything else and put all their chops into this one.

    I doubt that a second “curiosity” is that much cheaper ie I bet you almost anything it is a 1.5 to 2 billion affair and before we do that we need to have some clue if 1) this rover actually works and 2) does something that justifies the cost.

    I bet 2 is not going to happen RGO

  • vulture4

    One other thought. I do not think the level of public interest and excitement would have been any higher if the lander were manned. Robots are people too, and they are getting more so all the time.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 6th, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    You could easily fund the project with the $1 billion/yr being set alight by the ‘commercial manned space project’…

    yes and watch a 200 billion dollar asset be under used. typical right wing nut penny wise pound foolish. gee how is your boy Willard doing? RGO

  • Personally, I hope NASA doesn’t spend any more money launching rovers to the martian surface in the near future.

    The primary focus of NASA’s unmanned robotic programs should be on placing rovers on the lunar surface to access the quantity of water and other volatiles at the lunar poles. Placing rovers on the surface of the moons of Mars and returning material from Phobos and Deimos to cis-lunar space should also be one of NASA’s top priorities.

    These are the precursor missions that are essential if we are to establish a permanent human presence on the Moon, Mars orbit, and on the surface of Mars for scientific, strategic, and commercial purposes.

    Marcel F. Williams

  • DCSCA

    @Aerospace Engineer wrote @ August 6th, 2012 at 1:47 am

    “Let’s cut JPL some more, right?”

    Right.

    The old NASA adage of ‘nobody cares what it costs if the mission is successful’ doesn’t fly anymore in these austere, deficit-driven times. Particularly when the price tag for a disposable rover is $2.5 billion. And especially when the costs for these one-off space toys are rising while the cost of throw-away microelectronics around this planet keeps dropping. Bear in mind, 42 cents of every dollar spent by the government on projects like this is borrowed.

    Some splendid engineering and the deserved accolades doesn’t distract nor negate the gold-plated cost of this fuzzy-goaled gadget which, assuming it operates for five years, has to return $500 million worth of science/year. And NASA has projected its mission at just two years, which, on paper, means you’ve got to be justifying $1 billion/year return of science from this thing. Good luck w/that sales pitch for more funding.

    For instance, with $2.5 billion, you could build two sport stadiums and employ a lot more people doing so. These kind of soaring costs is what helped clip the wings of shuttle (launches broached the $1 billion mark as well.)

    The ivory-towered, elbow-patched, faculty lounge set in the space science community is in serious need of some fresh project and budgetary management, not to mention a healthy dose of very down-to earth-reality. This is your last toy for a while. You were lucky w.this one, too. It landed safely. Make the best of what you got in the years to come and stop asking for more already. So far, the $2.5 billion rover has has returned a few dusty pictures of gravel fields. You can snap those w/a $5 digital camera in Arizona any day of the week. It’s going to have to deliver a lot more to justify the expense- and more funding.

  • DCSCA

    @James wrote @ August 6th, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Free TV does that. Times Square is packed on New Year’s Eve, too. 15 minutes later, everybody’s sobered up and heading home.

  • DCSCA

    @BeanCounterfromDownunder wrote @ August 6th, 2012 at 5:04 am

    “…it remains to be seen just whether the returned science is worth $2.5 billion and whether the U.S. has long enough pockets to propose something similar again.”

    Precisely.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    While the Curiosity team is to be congratulated, John Holdren gave a disgraceful performance, making a campaign speech for a president who proposes to slash the budget for planetary exploration.

  • James

    Because of the Obama Administration cut to Planetary Division, and more specifically the Mars Program, what the heck will all those JPL EDL engineers be doing for the next 10 years?

    Obama doesn’t seem to be giving much thought to growing the experience, technologies he now take credit for when making cuts…and how those technologies may positively impact the nation.

    Only is love affair with Musk and Space X seems to get his attention/time.

  • Fred Cink

    DCSCA… SO, MSL is an example of “…fuzzy-goaled, gold-plated, big science boondoggles…” HMMM, started with well thought out mission parameters and requests in 2004, as part of an ongoing overall planetary exploration program. Multiple plan revisions along the way to adapt to changing situations, (including inflation) some adds, some subtracts, and yes even an extention/delay doesn’t sound “fuzzy” or “gold-plated” to me, sounds more like measured and wise. Successfully conceiving, planning, designing, building, testing, launching and landing on another planet, the largest, most capable planetary surface science platform ever, doesn’t sound like a “boondoggle” Unless of course, you advocate for the Luddite View of the Future and just want to crawl under your own little, small minded, midievil mind set rock. Sounds like you should be quite comfortable there.

  • Aberwys

    Nice! Proof that large things can be placed on Mars!

  • Anthony Cook wrote:

    Actually, Schiff took action in 2010 that kept Congress from gutting CCDev, a move that does not directly affect his district.

    Can you provide a link where I can read about this? Thanks in advance.

  • Fred Cink

    DCSCA, now that we’ve covered the “limited view/under a rock” aspect of a couple of your posts let’s deal with the fiscal aspects. As another poster has already stated, NASA’s TOTAL yearly budget amounts to ONE HALF of ONE CENT of every federal dollar spent. That sounds like a pretty darn small price to pay for the nearly endless list of scientific/military or economic/standard of living benefits derived from space related research we all now enjoy in every aspect of our every day lives. (if you understand that concept no explaination is needed, if you DON’T understand that concept no explaination is POSSIBLE). You are correct for a refreshing change, in stating that the federal government IS borrowing 43 cents of every dollar it spends. So even if we assume NASA’s TOTAL BUDGET is from the “borrowed” category it’s fairly evident to MOST anyone with even a fifth grade math level, that the PROBLEM is NOT with NASA, but with the ever expanding social welfare programs that constitute OVER FOURTY PERCENT of all federal spending. The 2.5 billion dollar price tag of the ENTIRE MSL project amounts to LESS than ONE dollar per US Citizen per year. Tell ya what, even though he’s dead, I’LL pay for Rube Goldberg’s share of the mission. (even though he’s probably still an active voter for some Democrat) I just can’t WAIT till your “cash strapped taxpayers burdend with the costs” get the bill for obamacare and a 16 TRILLION dollar national debt.

  • josh

    red dragon will be cheaper and help spacex gain experience with interplanetary missions. no need for a rerun.

  • Coastal Ron

    James wrote @ August 6th, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Obama doesn’t seem to be giving much thought to growing the experience, technologies he now take credit for when making cuts…and how those technologies may positively impact the nation.

    And how will they “positively impact the nation” above normal high-tech spending?

    I think something else you’re not taking into account is that Obama proposed a budget that didn’t increase, which means after you take into account the big-budget overrun of the JWST (courtesy Michael Griffin), there was far less money left in the science side of NASA’s budget. And when you add in the unwanted SLS, Obama is pretty constrained on what can or can’t be afforded – and Mars exploration took the hit.

    So what would you trade in order to fund Mars exploration? What would you defund or cut back, and why?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ August 6th, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    If it had failed you would be giving a campaign speech on how evil this administration is…its standard fare for you as well as lying about things.

    In the end the budget for planetary exploration should not be cut, but we have to pay for things like SLS and Orion which are doing nothing but technowelfare and you support.

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    James wrote @ August 6th, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Because of the Obama Administration cut to Planetary Division, and more specifically the Mars Program, what the heck will all those JPL EDL engineers be doing for the next 10 years?”

    do what the GOP loves…go out and find a job in the private sector…RGO

  • adastramike

    DCSCA wrote:

    These kind of fuzzy-goaled, gold-plated, big science boondoggles are increasingly viewed by the cash-strapped taxpayers burdened with the costs as little more than ‘make work’ for an elite group at the expense of the many.

    Then why were the majority in Times Square cheering NASA if they considered Curiosity as ‘make work’? All space science funded by the US govt requires employing people to work on it. I suppose whatever mission ultimately discovers life elsewhere (assuming it exists) will just be make work as well. You know what is really make work? The vastly overfunded war machine, funding projects the taxpayers aren’t even permitted to know about, in the name of defense, beyond what we likely actually need to defend ourselves from real threats through proper communication and procedures. That funding level sure helped us avoid 9/11…

  • Teddy Ballgame

    One other thought. I do not think the level of public interest and excitement would have been any higher if the lander were manned. Robots are people too, and they are getting more so all the time.

    What a completely inane comment. Now all that you post will be judged accordingly.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ August 6th, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    The old NASA adage of ‘nobody cares what it costs if the mission is successful’ doesn’t fly anymore in these austere, deficit-driven times. Particularly when the price tag for a disposable rover is $2.5 billion.”

    Sadly DCSCA is more correct here then wrong.

    The issue really is more about the future then the present.

    In a world where there is little or no justification on a value per cost ratio for either planetary probes or human spaceflight…when expenditures get to high; the money machine ends….or more correctly there is no future program.

    And that is where MSL has left the Mars people. Unless there is some “snap” where something that links directly to “life” emerges then the next probe is harder to get…because the people who abandoned 600 millioin dollar rovers for the 2.5 billion will soon want to abandon the 2.5billion for something even more glorious…like a 10-15 billion sample return…and there is no real reason for it.

    The planetary people leave their toys quickly to move off into the publish or perish world…and before long they will be banging the drum for a “new rover” with a higher price tag and there wont be again absent some snap discovery…a reason for it.

    RGO

  • adastramike

    Heinrich Monroe wrote:

    I will say that in the public eye, association with NASA is increasingly seen as a demerit. That’s too bad. That taxpayers are “burdened” with NASA costs is pretty hard to defend, given that NASA as a whole consumes about 0.6% of the federal budget. Ouch! Are we talking straws breaking camels backs? But yes, the public generally thinks it consumes a lot more.

    True, and yet the public isn’t shocked when the many stellar movies that emerge every weekend cost $200 million each. Wait isn’t that the cost of a smaller class mission? I personally would rather be wowed by one NASA mission than a slew of bad Hollywood stories with special effects (that usually don’t even win any cinematic awards). Not that I hate movies. Give us another MSL for the cost of 10 bad Hollywood movies any day, every few years. That’s not asking too much, is it? To expect the govt to do amazing things in science with only a fraction of our taxes, that simply happens to be visible to the public? Tight fiscal times? Tell that to the Webb telescope folks or to those who spent all that money on the Iraq war. The public needs to be informed on what space exploration really costs in comparison to other trivial things.

  • DCSCA

    @Mark R. Whittington wrote @ August 6th, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Everybody’s cheering the engineeering. And rightly so. The science, which is what this $2.5 billion one-off is all about, not so much– as it remains to be seen if any data returned comes close to justifying a ROI for the multi-billion dollar expense. As of this writing, we’ve see a few b/w pixs of a gravel field. You can snap photos of that w/a $5 digital camera in Arizona any day of the week and what’s been seen in’t much different than what we saw in ’76 from the Vikings, or more recently, Sojourner, Phoenix, Spirit and Opportunity, all throw-aways and significantly less costly, relatively speaking. Curiosity is going to have to deliver a lot, lot more to justify the expense as a rational for further funding. Holdren was just the garnish at a steak dinner. Garver the horseradish. .

    @Fred Cink wrote @ August 6th, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    =yawn= Nice try, Freddo, But this isn’t Voyager- a good benchmark for cost-effective planetary exploration. Bottom line, this $2.5 billion fuzzy goaled, gold-plated throw away rover ‘isn’t looking for life,’ as the space scientists said repeatedly to newsies, – just ‘the building blocks’ – except the whole point of the exercise is ultimately to find life as far as the folks paying for it are concerned. A lousy sales pitch by the ivory=towered, elbow-patched, faculty lounge set. It stinks of ‘we;ll need another, and another’ bureaucratic gamesmanship. And at $2.5 billion plus annual operational costs, it’s a steep price to pay for 700 scientists to play in the Martian sand. It’s little more than yet another expensive aerospace works program, akin to the JWST– and the ISS. The cash-strapped taxpayers who have to pay the freight for these bloated, over priced, throw-away one-offs always cheer at a piece of splendid engineering– but when the bills come due, the cheers turn to jeers- then anger. The government paying for this has to borrow 42 cents of every dollar it spends on it.

    The eggheads in the space science community have put themselves in the position of justifying roughly $1 billion-plus/year return of science from this thing as it has a projected life of two earth years. Good luck w/that ROI brief in the next few deficit-driven budget cycles. And even if Curiosity operates for five years, it has to return roughly $500 million worth of space science/year to justify the cost in these austere times.

    NASA already struggles to justify any ROI aboard the $100-plus billion ISS, operating for over a decade w/minimal results that come no whre close to justifying the expense and the JWST is a fiscal fiasco, vastly over budget. When the costs for these one-off space probes breaks the $1 billion mark in an era of massive deficits, red flags have to fly, even from the people who support it, because in an era when the costs for throw-awy microelectronics is plummeting on this planet, the costs for throwing one-offs at other planets is soaring. And if you keep jacking up the costs for these throw-awy probes, you’re going to price yourself out of the planetary probe biz.

  • DCSCA

    Fred Cink wrote @ August 6th, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Freddo, tell Cranny she’s denied a COLA for her SS and you’ll cut her Medicare but you can finance, with borrowed money, a Mars probe to keep 700 eggheads busy. That’s a good sales pitch. And remember, Grannys vote.

  • DCSCA

    @adastramike wrote @ August 7th, 2012 at 1:11 am

    They were cheering the engineering triumph, and rightly so, not the science, which is what it was sent there to do. When hyou get a crowd in Times Square cheering images of a rock drill at work, let us know. They’ll cheer anything on the jumbotron in Times Square- even the NY Mets. =eyeroll=

    @Heinrich Monroe wrote @ August 6th, 2012 at 9:33 am

    =yawn= ‘Do you have any good evidence for this statement of yours?’

    Do your homework. Support for NASA has been a mile wide and an inch deep for decades. Of Curiosity, most everybody is impressed and marvels at the splendid engineering. The science, not so much. Grinding into rusty rocks makes for nice screensaver imagery but doesn’t draw crowds to Times Square chanting ‘Drill baby, drill!’.

  • Fred Cink

    DCSCA… once again, “…the gold-plated cost of this fuzzy-goaled gadget…” You must be oh-so-proud of the lingo in that cute little talking point. Your example of building two sports stadiums as an alternative is so inspiring and far thinking. I really wish you would apply the same requirements for IMEDIATE, DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR, economic return you seem to expect from MSL/NASA/space program funding to the 99.5% of the rest of federal expenditures.

    ” So far, the $2.5 billion rover has has (sic) returned a few dusty pictures of gravel fields. You can snap those w/a $5 digital camera in Arizona any day of the week.” WOW, I am REALLY impressed. Golly gee, with THAT inspirational line of thinking WHO KNOWS where human civilization could be today… probably still in caves afraid of the thunder gods. Are you SURE your real name isn’t John Holdren?

  • James

    @ Coastal Ron “So what would you trade in order to fund Mars exploration? What would you defund or cut back, and why?”

    I’d cut DoD Spending by 1%.

    Is the government still funding midnight basketball or other programs of their ilk? I’d cut that too.

    etc. etc. etc.

  • Vladislaw

    DCSCA wrote:

    “doesn’t distract nor negate the gold-plated cost of this fuzzy-goaled gadget which, assuming it operates for five years, has to return $500 million worth of science/year. And NASA has projected its mission at just two years, which, on paper, means you’ve got to be justifying $1 billion/year return of science from this thing. “

    If the rover discovers past or present life on Mars what would that science be worth?

    Can you please tell us what’s the going rate for the first discovery of alien life on another planet?

    $100 dollars? 500? As you seem to be the judge and jury on what constitutes science value .. can you please tell us that that science discovery’s market value is?

  • James

    @ Robert: “..go out and find a job in the private sector”

    Last I checked JPL is a contractor, is a lab of the California Institute of Technology, which has a contract with NASA to run JPL.

    Does this arrangement disqualify JPL from being considered the private sector?

    And come on Robert, I know that you know that as technology advances, be it in the medical world, engineering world, etc. so too does the standard of living increase and the entrepreneurs of our country spur economic activity.

    Technology won’t advance if we as a Nation don’t invest some of our debt in areas that push the state of the art of technology…..as is often the case for high risk space missions.

  • DCSCA

    @Vladislaw wrote @ August 7th, 2012 at 7:44 am

    “If the rover discovers past or present life on Mars what would that science be worth?”

    Except this $2.5 billion disposable rover is ‘not looking for life’ as the on camera space science dweebs have repeatedly told the news media– just the ‘building blocks’– they’re always looking for those ‘building blocks’ =eyeroll=. You’re hearing what you want to hear. And even if microbial life is revealed, confirming it is not from earthly contamination inadvertently planted by past probes remains a factor— but reaffirming the ‘zone of life’ theories in solar system evolution is just more chatter for the faculty lounge. Besides, Vlad, the smart boys aloready all pretty much agree the mathematics point to auniverse is teaming w/life– it’s just that humans haven’t found any bweyoyon thei own rock. It doesn’t change life on Earth, but it may just pique interest from the DoD. Re-read ‘The Andromeda Strain’ for relaxation as yo wait– [‘Those are biological warfare maps, Jeremy!’ And the major religions would simply deny – or apply the ‘God sneezed’ dictum– His wonders to behold.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ August 7th, 2012 at 1:29 am

    “…when expenditures get to high; the money machine ends….or more correctly there is no future program. And that is where MSL has left the Mars people. Unless there is some “snap” where something that links directly to “life” emerges then the next probe is harder to get…because the people who abandoned 600 millioin dollar rovers for the 2.5 billion will soon want to abandon the 2.5billion for something even more glorious…like a 10-15 billion sample return…and there is no real reason for it.”

    Yep.

    And this ‘carrot and stick’ routine is SOP for the space science crowd. The ‘there’s a hint, a clue, give us more, more, more’ is endless- and it’s cleverly purposed as well. It worked, too, until the price tags climbed into the multi-billion dollar range and the budgeteers started red-flagging it. THey’re going to price themselves out of the planetary probe biz. There’s one still headed to Pluto they have to look forward to…

  • Googaw

    If sending humans to Mars is the goal.

    Why should your dogmatic Luddite hallucinations be a national goal?

  • Heinrich Monroe

    For instance, with $2.5 billion, you could build two sport stadiums and employ a lot more people doing so.

    Yep, and you could employ even more people if you had them picking fruit or sweeping floors. Obviously, most of this MSL expenditure is people-costs, so it comes down to what people and what skills you want to invest in. That’s an inane comment.

    Of Curiosity, most everybody is impressed and marvels at the splendid engineering. The science, not so much. Grinding into rusty rocks makes for nice screensaver imagery but doesn’t draw crowds to Times Square chanting ‘Drill baby, drill!’.

    Wrong. The science goals are part of the engineering accomplishments. No one values splendid engineering just for its own sake. No one. If I go up to someone on the street and ask “So, what was go great about that new Mars lander, Curiosity?”, I suspect I won’t get anyone saying “Well, they really figured out how to do Mars EDL for a ton of payload!”

    As to people in Times Square chanting “Drill baby, drill” about a Mars Rover, those are folks I think we all want to stay away from.

    While the Curiosity team is to be congratulated, John Holdren gave a disgraceful performance, making a campaign speech for a president

    I heard Holdren’s remarks, and I don’t believe what you say is correct. Where is the transcript for that? C’mon. Fess up. I want quotes.

  • Googaw

    Everybody’s cheering the engineeering. And rightly so. The science… not so much

    An astute observation.

  • Googaw

    No one values splendid engineering just for its own sake. No one.

    A great example of the ivory tower “thinking” DCSCA was alluding to.

  • amightywind

    Grinding into rusty rocks makes for nice screensaver imagery but doesn’t draw crowds to Times Square chanting ‘Drill baby, drill!’.

    The signature discovery of the MER project was the observation of sedimentary rocks, complete with concretions, that could have only been deposited in briny water. This is a huge scientific leap. Before that the only rocks observed by Mars landers were boring impact breccias of basaltic rocks. MSL is at the foot of a 15,000′ mountain of sediments. MSL will examine the whole sedimentary section covering much of the history of a watery Mars, not just the upper few feet seen by Opportunity. The imagery will be spectacular and very popular. The Mars program should have little trouble with public relations, compared to say the ISS where we enable the despot Vladimir Putin, or the crony politics of commercial crew. MSL is good old fashioned primary exploration in the tradition of Columbus and Magellan. Yay for NASA!

  • Coastal Ron

    James wrote @ August 7th, 2012 at 7:05 am

    I’d cut DoD Spending by 1%.

    I should have been more specific, since assuming that Congress will defund the DoD or any other agency to fund NASA is not going to happen.

    So what would you trade – within NASA’s existing budget – in order to fund Mars exploration? What would you defund or cut back, and why?

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 7th, 2012 at 1:45 am

    But this isn’t Voyager- a good benchmark for cost-effective planetary exploration.

    You are the most inconsistent poster I have ever seen. Literally you are against everything being done this century, and you’ll contradict yourself even on the same blog topics.

    Take Voyager 1 as an example. The most exciting science it is currently doing is almost 35 years after it’s launch, but if you had applied the same standards to it that you do MSL or even the ISS, you would have cut off funding for the program after it passed Saturn – when it was just 3 years old.

    Both of the Voyagers use RTG’s to power them, as does MSL. Both missions have been returning secondary data while on their way to/from their primary objectives, and in the case of MSL, it has been measuring – for the first time – actual radiation levels that humans would encounter on their way to Mars and on the surface.

    And now one of your current memes is “disposable”. Well I hate to break it to you bub, but you are disposable too, as is your car, your house, and everything around you. The only thing that keeps them going (and you) is fresh injections of money in the form of consumables, maintenance and replacement parts. That pretty much sums up the future for anything we do here on Earth or beyond Earth, so you better get used to it.

    So why don’t you surprise us and actually advocate FOR something. Take a stand. Stick you neck out for something, anything. Otherwise stop yer whining…

  • James

    @ Coastal Ron: “What would you defund or cut back, and why?”

    SLS: The President does not want it; Bolden does not want it; I’d kill it to fund more daring, cheaper than $2.5B, science exploration missions: like a robotic exploration of titan.

    Let Elon go to Mars.

    Close a few Centers: touchy subject for sure, but given the declining budgets, too much $ is going into maintaining roads and commodes, when closing a Center and moving it’s work to some other Center, would free up some much needed cash for programs.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    While the Curiosity team is to be congratulated, John Holdren gave a disgraceful performance, making a campaign speech for a president

    OK, I found it. Holdren’s remarks at the JPL press conference following the landing of Curiosity.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mv-BougMJVM

    Two references to Obama. One congratulating the team, and another pledging to work to get humans to Mars in the 2030s. Mr. Whittington, if this is your idea of a campaign speech for a president, I’d have to ask what the view is like with your head stuck up your ***. Disgraceful performance? Yep. So what are you going to say next?

    Does anyone wonder why this guy doesn’t take comments on his blog?

  • amightywind

    I am glad the MSL is nuclear powered. The solar powered MER missions proceeded so slowly. I think it is the main reason why the public lost interest. Who wants to hear about a rover that has to be parked for 4 months due to lack of power. It is like the nanny state liberals who want to cut power our air conditioning in the middle of summer. RTGs are a great American innovation. We should use them on space missions, a lot.

  • Googaw

    actual radiation levels that humans would encounter on their way to Mars and on the surface.

    Undoubtedlly the most urgent scientific puzzle facing our nation. :-)

  • vulture4

    “I’d cut DoD Spending by 1%.”

    When Congress does the allocation, as between NASA and DOD or SLS and commercial crew, then each item competes separately against more tax cuts, which are always popular.

    “The Mars program should have little trouble with public relations”

    I agree, and it perhaps demonstrates that the public can feel just as involved in exploration even if the remote explorers are robotic.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    I am glad the MSL is nuclear powered. The solar powered MER missions proceeded so slowly.

    The importance of electrical power is manyfold. It isn’t just about going faster or stronger. It’s about being smarter. It is well understood, in the ‘biz, that space robotics is more constrained in computing power by electrical power availability than anything else. What these vehicles can accomplish autonomously is seriously handicapped by available electrical power. That is, the autonomous capabilities that we install on these rovers is vastly less than what we actually know how to do in a power-rich environment. In considering the effectiveness of robotic autonomy compared to having humans on site, that’s extremely important. It’s more about investment in power systems than it is in computing systems.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    “A great example of the ivory tower “thinking” DCSCA was alluding to.”

    Ah, the perspective from the concrete and rebar tower.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 7th, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    The solar powered MER missions proceeded so slowly. I think it is the main reason why the public lost interest.

    Yes, I’m sure it had nothing to do with the Olympics being on TV, or any one of a thousand things that in general keep us entertained between Mars updates.

    The updates from Mars are kind of like the updates you get from distant relatives – you see their trip pictures popping up every once in a while on Facebook, but otherwise you’re not sitting around wondering what they’re doing. And that’s not bad, considering that the Mars rovers are doing science, which isn’t everyones cup of tea.

    RTGs are a great American innovation. We should use them on space missions, a lot.

    I think Russia has more experience with nuclear space power than we do, but nevertheless, it’s Congress holding things up right now – NASA is having to go it alone on Plutonium production, and there is not a lot of fuel for everything everyone wants to do in space.

  • Vladislaw

    dCsCa wrote:

    “even if microbial life is revealed, confirming it is not from earthly contamination inadvertently planted by past probes remains a factor— but reaffirming the ‘zone of life’ theories in solar system evolution is just more chatter for the faculty lounge. Besides, Vlad, the smart boys aloready all pretty much agree the mathematics point to auniverse is teaming w/life– it’s just that humans haven’t found any bweyoyon thei own rock. It doesn’t change life on Earth, “

    You are nuttier than a fruitcake.

    So .. ah … we already know all about alien offworld life. Can you please help and inform an ignorant hick like myself Professor Gas Can?

    What kind of life is it that teaming across the universe? Got some DNA samples for us?

    I know if America showed there was life on another planet, it really wouldn’t amount to much more than some talk over the water cooler in a few ivory towers of learning like you say. Heck it probably wouldn’t even be reported in the news. Text books would not have to be rewritten, classes would not change …

    you are nuts.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 7th, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Grinding into rusty rocks makes for nice screensaver imagery but doesn’t draw crowds to Times Square chanting ‘Drill baby, drill!’.”

    LOL at least Palin is good for some humor.

    ” The imagery will be spectacular and very popular.” A week from now the cheering crowds wont even remember the rover’s name…some of them will remember it is on Mars.

    I bet you Willard doesnt have a clue about the rover. RGO

  • Anthony J. Cook

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ August 6th, 2012 at 7:57 pm
    Can you provide a link where I can read about this? Thanks in advance.

    Steven,
    Here is a spaceref story from 2010 reporting on action taken by several congressmen, including Schiff, asking for Congress to reconsider its version of the 2011 budget, which called for nearly eliminating CCDev:

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=31296

    I had read the House version of the proposed budget, blew my top, and called Schiff’s office to complain about what Congress was about to do to CCDev. Minutes later, I read the above cited report on NASAWatch, and retracted my complaint. I received a nice message from Congressman Schiff on my answering machine when I got home!

  • Fred Cink

    ” A week from now, the cheering crowds wont even remember the rover’s name…some of them will remember it is on Mars” Which is quite a bit better than the knowledge/intellegence level of Sheila Jackson Lee.
    Unfortunately I have to agree with ‘Willard not having a clue,’ but even worse, he has even less interest in “space” than Obama

  • Coastal Ron

    Vladislaw wrote @ August 7th, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    So .. ah … we already know all about alien offworld life.

    Keep in mind that this is from the same yahoo that thinks we learned all we needed to learn about the long-term effects of zero G on human physiology back when three different crews spent a total of 171 days in space on Skylab.

  • DCSCA

    @Vladislaw wrote @ August 7th, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    In other words, you have no other pitch than to say, more, more, more borrowed money for more, more, more. more expensive, one-off, throw-away probes for an elite few to play with charged on the national credit card to a deficit burdened government for the many cash-strapped taxpayers to pay for, who are desperately trying to keep their jobs, put food on the table and pay their bills. Confiriming extraterrestrial microbes, alive, dead or fossilized, even in the ‘zone of life’ isn’t going to do a thing to make life better on Earth. And, as the smart boys have already extrapolated, mathematically speaking, the universe is full of the right mix necessary for life to exist. The fact that humans haven’t encounter any first hand yet frustates only those with the time and government financing who care to look, not to the prospects of life itself scattered across the cosmos. For all we know, they may have heard and seen us already, and made a point of avoiding us, given what we’ve piped out via TV and radio into the cosmic din. =eyeroll= In Sagan’s film, ‘Contact’- the trigger came from TV beamed back from the ’36 Olympics- of Hitler. On SNL, the message back was more amusing– “Send more Chuck Berry.” ;-)

    “Can you please help and inform an ignorant hick like myself…”

    Nope.

    “Heck it probably wouldn’t even be reported in the news.”

    Depends. For instance, ABC bumped its package on Curiosity’s landing to the last segment of it’s nat’l newscast, putting much more mundane stories ahead of it. Both NBC and CBS bumped it down the broadcast as well, albeit with more pressing news about another mass shooting. As EDL occured, CNN gave it good real time coverage- but via CNN int’l, not CNN US; Fox broke into ‘Geraldo’ for the landing, but then went back to regular programming– couldn’t disappoint those late night Rivera and Huckabee fans ;-) MSNBC broke into its weekend Prison TV/Olympics packages with, of all people, an aging and increasingly irrelevent Jay Barbree, on a phone from Florida, comparing the EDL sequence to… =drumroll= Apollo. After touchdown, it was then back to Prison TV. None carried the post-landing presser. CSPAN failed to catry live feed of the landing at all. Although they’ve managed to carry the daily pressers in full from JPL.

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ August 7th, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    =yawn= Voyager has demonstrated its cost-effectiveness, relatively speaking, to the price tag of Curiosity. And if you knew your history, in its early incarnations, what came to be known as ‘Voyager’ was denied, cancelled, revived, morphed and redesigned to maximize its potential before being pitched, approved and budgeted- and even afterthey were launched, the birds were reprogrammed for maximum value and, dare we say it, ROI. And they’re still operating, albeit at a minimal level- nevertheless, they’re still crankin’ out data, while you’re just crankin’ to crank. MSL is no where close to touching that kind of fiscal legacy. If Curiosoty is still rolling along piping back ‘valuable’ data 35 years from now, you may have earned a $2.5 billion brownie point. But don’t bet the ranch on it. And FYI, you’re quite aware of what DCSCA is ‘for’– but as a devotee of the Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision, you just don’t like it- or Luna- all that much, Dragon Boy.

    @Heinrich Monroe wrote @ August 7th, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    “The science goals are part of the engineering accomplishments.”

    Except it’s not.

    Even the JPL team acknowledged that in the presser, noting the engineering performed as predicted but the ‘science’ has yet to begin. .

    “No one values splendid engineering just for its own sake. No one.”

    Except they do– and did. And rightly so. What do you think everybody was cheering about; certainly not the ‘science’ — Curiosity has not even begun to pipe down any ‘science.’ =eyeroll= It must be drafty up there in that ivory tower.

    @amightywind wrote @ August 7th, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    “MSL is good old fashioned primary exploration in the tradition of Columbus and Magellan.”

    Except it’s not. Unless in your universe, Curiosity is crewed with humans.

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ August 7th, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    “A week from now the cheering crowds wont even remember the rover’s name…some of them will remember it is on Mars.”

    Yep.

    “I bet you Willard doesnt have a clue about the rover.”

    If asked, he’d likely chide the press for bringing up the story about his dog strapped to the roof of his station wagon again. Then remind them it’s name wasn’t ‘rover.’ ;-)

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ August 7th, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    =yawn= Going in circles, no place fast appeals to the Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision, LEO Dragon Boys. But to adults, after half a century of on orbit data and decades of earthly epxerience in environmental extremes, you have to say, enough, and press onward and outward.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ August 7th, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Postscript. 36 hours after touchdown, the 4 paragraph AP story was already bumped back to page 3 of a family member’s local paper- and a local business, Malin, built the cameras no less– already old news. Top-of-the-fold: Romney tax break of $150,000-plus on his property taxes for his LaJolla hideaway. Syuxh are the priorities which pass for ‘news.’

  • Heinrich Monroe

    What do you think everybody was cheering about; certainly not the ‘science’ — Curiosity has not even begun to pipe down any ‘science.’

    They’re cheering because they’re proud. Proud of our ability to do hard things in the interest of doing science. Seriously, do you really believe that a Curiosity sent to Mars without, er, curiosity (as in no science equipment), would be taken to heart by the public? Do you really believe that the public would be mesmerized by a robot whose entire purpose was to get there? The taxpayer is pretty stupid, but not that stupid.

    Why did people cheer when the Shuttle took off? Because the engines worked? Because flames came out? C’mon.

    Unless in your universe, Curiosity is crewed with humans.

    But it is. This telerobot is being run by people on Earth. Human presence — vision, mobility, and even some dexterity — is being put on Mars with a remarkably capable surrogate. As our telerobots get more capable, as they’re already dramatically doing, it’s basically just the time delay that keeps the human operators from feeling exactly like they would on Mars. In my universe, my car is crewed by a human, even though I don’t have my hands on the tires turning the wheels left and right or my feet on the ground, Fred Flintstone style, accelerating away from a stoplight. I guess if I had to use cameras to see around me, it wouldn’t be that bad. My car is, to me, a telerobot that I’m just operating.

    The resistance to the promise of teleoperation of equipment on planetary surfaces that we hear from human space flight devotees is a truly clueless world view. As to magnified importance of diminished vision, a human loping across a rock field in a bulky suit, with thick and unfeeling gloves, and squinting through helmet glass, fits the words nicely, don’t you think? It’s really a stunning example of the value we place in what can now be considered, in view of our technical sophistication, sensory deprivation.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Actually the best characterization of the ephemeral nature of the “glory” of almost all human accomplishments in terms of the public “excitement” that they garner can be found by simply watching the last few minutes of the movie Patton

    “For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeteers, musicians and strange animals from conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conquerors rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children robed in white stood with him in the chariot or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.”
    - Gen. George C. Patton

    Jim Baker of the Baker institute (and former Secretary of State) tells a story when you attend the leadership class there (which I have an proudly graduated at the top of the class)..

    Baker remarked that once driving through the White House gates he saw a man walking alone on Pennsylvania Avenue and recognized him as having been Secretary of State in a previous administration. “There he was alone – no reporters, no security, no adoring public, no trappings of power. Just one solitary man alone with his thoughts.

    People who think that a national endeavor which is purely without some stake for the nation (ie no massive good or bad rise or fall with it) and which does not involve the entire nation can keep the attention of the nation are pretty stupid. There was a reason in WW2 that children my fathers age collected spare rubber and old pieces of metal…and most Americans in Operation Iraqi freedom did nothing…

    Sorry, absent some credible evidence of life, Curiosity’s impact on a future in space is trivial. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Heinrich Monroe wrote @ August 7th, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    The resistance to the promise of teleoperation of equipment on planetary surfaces that we hear from human space flight devotees is a truly clueless world view. As to magnified importance of diminished vision, a human loping across a rock field in a bulky suit, with thick and unfeeling gloves, and squinting through helmet glass, fits the words nicely, don’t you think? It’s really a stunning example of the value we place in what can now be considered, in view of our technical sophistication, sensory deprivation.”

    Well said although you could have added, as in the case of the lunar explorers…only one of them really knew what the frack he was looking for on the moon through that helmet…

    RGO

  • DCSCA

    @Heinrich Monroe wrote @ August 7th, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    “They’re cheering because they’re proud. Proud of our ability to do hard things in the interest of doing science.”

    No, they’re cheering an engineering success- in this case, a touchdown- And they certainly weren’t cheering “in the interest of science” in ‘ol Times Square. =eyeroll= Good Lord, sober up.

    They- that is, ‘we’ hailed the success of some plending engineering. That’s all. The ‘science’ hasn’t begun, as the JPL pressers have stated. =eyeroll= But you can tell us all about ‘the science’ when it starts- as the mission is already bumped to page 3 w/a 4 paragraph AP story in the local paper and got all of 15 seconds or less on each of the nightly newscasts less than 48 hours after touchdown. Marvin Hamlisch’s obit got more airtime. =eyeroll= Good grief.

    And it is the height of ivory-towered arrogance on the part of the elbow-patched, faculty lounge set to try to lay claim to any of the accolades hard-earned by the engineering teams as a ‘scientific milestone’ then pivot to lay claim to some shine from HSF ops as well. LOL Unreal.

    “But it is…”

    Except it isn’t. Sober up.

  • DCSCA

    @Heinrich Monroe wrote @ August 7th, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    “As to magnified importance of diminished vision, a human loping across a rock field in a bulky suit, with thick and unfeeling gloves, and squinting through helmet glass, fits the words nicely, don’t you think?”

    Except it doesnt, unless you limit your thinking and capacity for observations to the immediate confines of protective, life-sustaining hardware- on site observations aren’t limited to the inner confines of a spacesuit– as in the case of Apollo, the people who followed along on TV can tell you– and the crew inside the LMs on the moon observed and experienced (and, in fact, breathed and tasted) first hand. Upon return, the teams at the LRL joined in as well, back in the day. =eyeroll=

    You’re off in the weeds, trying to lay claims to science returns which have yet to materialize from a gold plated, fuzzy goaled, $2.5 billion one-off, throw-away rover whose triumphant engineering bona fides has been earned and celebrated and whose science return remains to be seen.

    It’s your turn at bat- deliver $1 billion/yr worth of ‘science’– justify a ROI for this gadget. Make us “proud” to have charged it to the national credit card so you to play in the Martian dirt, looking for’ building blocks’ -something children can buy at any toy store to play with in a sandbox for much, much less than $2.5 billion-plus , kiddo, charged to Uncle sam’s credit card. =eyeroll=

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 7th, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    Voyager has demonstrated its cost-effectiveness, relatively speaking, to the price tag of Curiosity.

    Yes, “demonstrated its cost-effectiveness” – while being funded for 34 years after it was launched. Kudo’s to the Voyager 1 team, but if you had been in charge you would have cancelled the program after it passed Jupiter. You have the attention span of a puppy – SQUIRREL!!

    OK, now that I have your attention again…

    MSL’s RTG hasn’t even reached it’s half-life, and you’re ready to kill the program. The time to kill the program was during development – once you decide to launch, then the only smart course (not your strong suit I know) is to operate the MSL until it stops returning science. Which is what we’re doing with Voyager 1. Do you understand that analogy (I know analogies are not your strong suit).

    SQUIRREL!! :-)

  • Googaw

    Do you really believe that the public would be mesmerized by a robot whose entire purpose was to get there?

    In Heinrich’s pristine eyrie of tusk, nobody was mesmerized by Sputnik. History never happened.

    Back in the real world, engineering, besides sometimes being done for its own sake, or for the sake of the pride, empowerment, and entertainment it can provide, is most often done for reasons of commerce or security. Pure science, science for science’s sake, is way down on the list of reasons.

  • Googaw

    The resistance to the promise of teleoperation of equipment on planetary surfaces that we hear from human space flight devotees is a truly clueless world view. As to magnified importance of diminished vision, a human loping across a rock field in a bulky suit, with thick and unfeeling gloves, and squinting through helmet glass, fits the words nicely, don’t you think? It’s really a stunning example of the value we place in what can now be considered, in view of our technical sophistication, sensory deprivation.

    This, OTOH, is very well said.

  • Anthony J. Cook wrote:

    Here is a spaceref story from 2010 reporting on action taken by several congressmen, including Schiff, asking for Congress to reconsider its version of the 2011 budget, which called for nearly eliminating CCDev.

    Thanks for sharing.

    It’s nice to see you have a Representative capable of stringing together a rational thought. Here in the Space Coast, we have Sandy Adams who claims Obama has forced U.S. astronauts to ride on Chinese rockets. Cuckoo.

    I will say I’m a bit miffed that in the letter it keeps referring to how this affects California, which gets back to my original point. I wish these Congresscritters would think less about their own parochial interests, and more about the nation’s needs. I realize some of that is just how Congress works — you represent your district or state — but my anecdotal impression is that Rep. Schiff squawks loudest when it’s JPL’s budget getting cut.

    The general problem for all of Congress remains a disregard for the national interest, and concern only for their own district. Cut the budget, but do it elsewhere, not in my district. No one ever seems to discuss legitimate priorities or needs.

  • Paul Bryan

    Fred Cink said

    “It’s fairly evident to MOST anyone with even a fifth grade math level, that the PROBLEM is NOT with NASA, but with the ever expanding social welfare programs that constitute OVER FOURTY PERCENT of all federal spending.”

    Is it fairly evident that the problem is with social welfare programs? If anything has become clear from the global economic crisis it is that the biggest recipients of welfare spending are not the poor, but the rich. Corporations receive grants and tax breaks that dwarf anything that is doled out to the needy. Corporations employ accountants to set up bogus shell companies in tax havens to shield their businesses from paying the tax that they should pay. If these companies paid their taxes like good citizens, the tax take would be much higher and we’d all be in a far less worse state. Don’t believe me? According to a recent report by the Tax Justice Network the super rich elite had $21 trillion dollars hidden in tax havens at the end of 2010. Just think about that. So no, it’s not fairly evident that the problem is social welfare programs. Here’s an article about the report – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18944097

  • amightywind

    Spaceflightnow has some new pictures of the Gale crater landscape. My guess is they are looking south into the southern highlands. We’ve never seen that huge escarpment before. In another we see Mount Sharp standing 15K’ above the rover. I am speculating that the camera is pointing north northwest. The mountain is very lightly colored. It should be a big pile of sediments. The sediments covering the entire region surrounding the rover were presumably removed by the wind, leaving Mt. Sharp standing. Enjoy this. We are looking at Terra Incognita.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    on site observations aren’t limited to the inner confines of a spacesuit– as in the case of Apollo, the people who followed along on TV can tell you– and the crew inside the LMs on the moon observed and experienced (and, in fact, breathed and tasted) first hand.

    Huh? Unless you’re talking about astronauts examining the inside walls of the LEM (which is in one respect, a giant space suit), the onsite observations in Apollo were most certainly limited to what one could sense from the inner confines of a flexible spacesuit. So the astronauts “breathed and tasted” the Moon, eh? And what exactly did that tell us? Oh, yeah. It smells like gunpowder. That’s soooo impressive. I mean, what if it smelled like bad breath?

    So I’m trying to lay claims to science returns which have yet to materialize? That’s imaginative. If you roll your eyeballs back down to my words, you’ll read that I was pointing out that the taxpayers felt pride in accomplishing the first steps of a voyage of discovery.

    Let me say that the Mars Rovers did indeed deliver their cost in science. Call it an even billion dollars. You should read Richard Feynman’s wonderful essay on the value of science. Though let’s not get into an argument about this. Feynman was savvy enough to understand that the value of science isn’t decided scientifically.

    I’m impressed that you’re so sensitive to throw-away equipment. A real “green” comment, if I ever heard one. I guess in your “concrete and rebar tower” world (in contrast to my alleged “ivory tower” world) you’re looking for nothing less than the development of monuments in space. Things that last a long time, but don’t really do anything. Yep. We could erect a Mount Rushmore on the Moon. It would last *forever*. Why, Werner von Braun would be up there, and Robert Goddard too. Mike Griffin would lobby to get his mug there as well. But the important thing is that it wouldn’t get “thrown away”.

    In Heinrich’s pristine eyrie of tusk, nobody was mesmerized by Sputnik. History never happened.

    I think mesmerized is the wrong word. Threatened is a better word. And the purpose of Sputnik wasn’t to “get there”. It was to threaten. Everyone knows that. It was threatening because it was going over my house, and I couldn’t touch it. Now, we could say, in the spirit of soft power and security, that Curiosity has value in the technological threat that it demonstrates. We’re that damned good. Sure, you could read it that way. But if we wanted to exercise soft power, putting a rover on Mars is sort of a second-hand way to do that. While the technology is impressive, the accomplishment itself poses no threat at all. I’m reminded of the “lunatic” fringe telling us that the Moon is “high ground” for national security. Well then, I guess Mars is “higher”, right? And we’re going to Pluto! My, how secure we’re going to be.

  • vulture4

    Sputnik was interesting. Khrushchev wanted the beeper on ham frequency because he thought the US might deny it existed and that only having all the amateurs hear the beeps would make it credible. Eisenhower knew it was likely, but underestimated the propaganda value. He thought it was more valuable to let the Russians “establish” the principle of “freedom of the skies”, so we would not have to argue it with them when we launched our recon satellites.

  • vulture4

    “It is like the nanny state liberals who want to cut power our air conditioning in the middle of summer.”

    So you agree the planet is getting hotter.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Fred Cink said

    “It’s fairly evident to MOST anyone with even a fifth grade math level, that the PROBLEM is NOT with NASA, but with the ever expanding social welfare programs that constitute OVER FOURTY PERCENT of all federal spending.””

    that is the mantra spewed 24/7 by the right wing voice boxes at Fox News and other right wing outlets the problem is that it is not true.

    Aside from the fact that for the last 10 years we have tried “trickle down” economics and watched the rich get richer, the rich make endless speculations which collapsed the economy and the rest of us get poorer…the reality is that spending on social welfare programs is demonstrably productive and stimulative to the economy.

    I doubt Mitt Romney has really created a job in his life unless it was in china or some offshore company; but in the end the people who are on unemployment create jobs almost daily by spending just about every dime they get on “grocery” items…ie on the bread and butter industries that are the key to float up economics (ie the kind that built America).

    Romney certainly has created less jobs then Elon Musk has… I dont know about you but fools like Say Mark Whittington always refer to the commercial cargo/crew as “subsidies”…and while there really is no equivelent between SLS and say commercial cargo; ie SLS is just pure technowelfare…

    the defining characteristic is that the money spent on SLS has created no “associated jobs”…ie no industry outside of SLS spending is getting ready to or investing money now in infrastructure/jobs which support SLS operations…that is not true at SpaceX.

    You dont have to follow the events at the Cape or down in South Texas to closely to notice that while spaceX is churning the ground at the Cape and about to in South Texas several launch processing companies for satellites are in the process of doing the same thing…

    The main drags on the US economy are that we have an uneven tax structure that favors the rich, we have to much spending on Defense and other technoprojects that essentially are money pits with no real value for cost, and we have an inability to spend money on infrastructure projects that change the US.

    Your assignment is to go explore what the US West looks like without the infrastructure money spent on the big damn near LV. Thanks to the GOP right wing we dont do those projects anymore.

    Social spending has waste, but it is no where near the waste of the DoD or NASA in a percentage mode. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Not to rain on parades…Sputnik 1 did not broadcast on amateur radio (Ham) frequencies…it broadcast on 20.005 and 40.002 MHz. These were frequencies that were within easy tuning range of a great many of the RX used by amateur radio operators at the time.

    My BC348 actually received signals from Sputnik1 and I have the tape recording of it doing that…and some picture taken at the time of one of my elmers who gave me the Rx listening to Sputnik 1…but I have no first hand knowledge of it! (grin) WB5MZO

  • Mary

    I believe the success of Curiosity cannot be overstated which would be perfect timing to end the billion dollar boondoggle SLS program and replace it with one that would allow NASA to apply these new technologies that would give us the ability for human exploration of the Moon and Mars.
    Developing a space tug and reusable lander to place research habitat modules on the Moon would be a first step. Building an actual reusable space exploration vehicle to explore Mars and the rest of our Solar system would be next. NASA can develop these projects with existing technologies while developing new ones. The SLS program would never be able to accomplish these goals and would fall short and stymie America’s ability for human exploration. What our space program really needs is a heavy lift vehicle that can deliver cargo up to 70 tons to LEO, safely and reliably.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Heinrich Monroe wrote @ August 8th, 2012 at 8:51 am
    “I think mesmerized is the wrong word. Threatened is a better word. And the purpose of Sputnik wasn’t to “get there”. It was to threaten. Everyone knows that. It was threatening because it was going over my house, and I couldn’t touch it”

    as I have noted before you are one of the great folks on this forum and I enjoy and agree (mostly) with what you wrote at any rate I am thought provoked by them.

    I read Sputnik and the events of the 1957-Gagarin/Shepard era a little differently.

    I think most Americans and a great many of the politicians who were trying to grind an axe with the American people used Sputnik as a “threat”….but in reality I dont think either the USSR or the real folks in the US interpreted it as that and it was not…but how it played in politics was of course something different.

    What both the US and USSR leadership were struggling with in the post WW2 world was their respective ideologies but also the perception that both countries had in the non internet, non massive travel world and non spy satellite world.

    perceptions are the stuff that policy and the rest are made of…and in large measure both the Soviets and the US were trying to deal with world wide perceptions ….the Soviets were viewed as militarily strong but technologically weak and Sputnik was a clever way to address that issue.

    The best example of a true military message that was sent by a cold war spacelaunch…was, at least on the USside SCORE.

    Sputnik was as you point out soft power. RGO

  • Vladislaw

    DcScA wrote:

    “In other words, you have no other pitch than to say, more, more, more borrowed money for more, more, more. more expensive, one-off, throw-away probes for an elite few to play with charged on the national credit card to a deficit burdened government for the many cash-strapped taxpayers to pay for, who are desperately trying to keep their jobs, put food on the table and pay their bills. “

    Once again, totally wrong.

    The horse is OUT of the barn. It is stupid to talk about the door lock now. The eight years to design, develop, and build the probe … is gone.

    The funding that was spent in the last eight years is gone. The funds for the rocket launch … gone.

    You can blabber all you want about 42 cents on the dollar .. but… that money .. is G O N E.

    Do you understand that? It is a done deal, the funds were spent. Nothing you nor I could have did .. in those eight years, would not have mattered.

    When the world hands you lemons .. you make lemonaide.

    When the budget dollars are spent… well .. you might as well sit back and enjoy the show, you can cry your crocodile tears about the spending .. but instead of ranting on here, you should be out trying to earn BILLIONS of dollars so you can run a national ad campaign and buy elections for representatives and senators so your rantings will mean something.

    The money is spent… stop your freakin’ whining and enjoy the show or go out into the world and make a difference. You are not making a dent with your rants here.

  • “It is like the nanny state liberals who want to cut power our air conditioning in the middle of summer.”

    So you agree the planet is getting hotter.

    Yes, it happens every year, this time of year in the northern hemisphere.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Simberg…if the right wing is as accurate about global warming as they were about iraq…and the tax cuts we are all in trouble. RGO

  • amightywind

    I believe the success of Curiosity cannot be overstated which would be perfect timing to end the billion dollar boondoggle SLS program

    Your logic is baffling (which comes as no surprise). MSL is a great example of a troubled NASA program being righted. I only wish the same forbearance would have been shown to project Constellation. We would be back in space by now in a spacecraft we can be proud of. But hey, Obama’s leftist surrender monkeys had a vendetta, and were determined to politicise the NASA HSF program. Just glad they didn’t infect MSL. Let us hope Mitt and a stable GOP congress can reestablish some purpose and continuity to HSF.

    A comment on the blurry image published by MSSS. You should have waited until the dust cover came off, guys. This is an embarrassment compared to the images that followed. These science teams need to resist the urge to ham it up.

  • Jeff Foust

    Discussion of climate change is off topic here. Thank you for your cooperation.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 8th, 2012 at 2:18 pm
    . We would be back in space by now in a spacecraft we can be proud of”

    Factually wrong…we would be no where near to the launch of either Ares 1 in a flight configuration or Orion…

    F minus. RGO

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Your logic is baffling (which comes as no surprise). MSL is a great example of a troubled NASA program being righted.”

    Not really. The mission was righted, but at the cost of the program. There won’t be another lander on Mars until the 2020s (if then). MSL ate the Mars Exploration Program’s remaining lunch, and between it and even more massive JWST overruns, NASA lost credibility with the White House on Mars sample return costs.

    “I only wish the same forbearance would have been shown to project Constellation. We would be back in space by now in a spacecraft we can be proud of.”

    No, we wouldn’t. The earliest Ares I/Orion was going to launch was 2017, more likely 2019, and that was only if you believe Tinkerbell was going to sprinkle an additional $3 billion per year in fairy dust on NASA’s budget. Just the last projected overrun on Ares I/Orion was more annually than the cost of one MSL-class mission ($2.5 billion).

    “But hey, Obama’s leftist surrender monkeys had a vendetta, and were determined to politicise the NASA HSF program.”

    The Obama Administration inherited an unexecutable shambles in Constellation, along with multi-billion dollar overruns on JWST and MSL. They had no choice but to put the program out of its misery. Things became political only after Congress started designing its own heavy lift launcher to save jobs in certain states and districts.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mary wrote @ August 8th, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    …which would be perfect timing to end the billion dollar boondoggle SLS program…

    That part I agree with.

    What our space program really needs is a heavy lift vehicle that can deliver cargo up to 70 tons to LEO, safely and reliably.

    That part I don’t.

    Can you show us where anyone – that has money – has stated that they can’t launch something into space because a 70mt rocket isn’t available?

    We built a 450mt space station using sections no bigger than 20mt, so why wouldn’t we use the same technologies and techniques – and rockets – to do everything else in space? Sure would be a heck of a lot less expensive, which means we could afford to do more in space. And isn’t that the point?

  • DCSCA

    @Mary wrote @ August 8th, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    “I believe the success of Curiosity cannot be overstated…”

    Except it can.

    Of course it can. And it is, as the ivory towered, elbow-patched, faculty lounge set, lost in the space sciences, makes every effort to do so – even to the point of cloaking the engineering success of the landing as part of the ‘science,’ which it is not. The engineering of getting it there was a success- whether it was of value to do so remains in question. And that’s the whole point– a $2.5 billion point. And, of course, you cannot call it a ‘success’ as it has yet to return any science- which is what it was sent there to do. It has not even remotely come close to constitite a validation for the cost and a redemption for the expense, especially in an era of massive deficits and when the government payin for it has to borrow 42 cents of every dollar it spands on throw-away one-offs like this. =eyeroll=

    The old NASA adage of ‘nobody will care what it costs if the mission is successful’ is long dead.

    And although the engineering used to get it there worked magnificently- the ‘mission’ is no where close to be labeled successful. Curiosity was sent there to so science, not conduct a successful landing. It is gonig to have to deliver a lot, lot, lot more ;science; to come any where close to be labeled a ‘success’ to justify the $2.5 billion cost.

    @Vladislaw wrote @ August 8th, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    “… that money .. is G O N E.”

    The bills for it aren’t- it’s added to the debt. All the more reason to red-flag the waste, especially when throw-aways like this balloon and break the billion=dollar mark. Otherwise, as even Oler noted, the space science kids are pricing themselves out of the planetary probe biz. The oar costs helped clip shuttle’s wings as well. =eyeroll=

    @Heinrich Monroe wrote @ August 8th, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Huh, indeed. You’re off in the weeds. Feynman’s been dead since the last years of the Reagan administration. This is 2012. Where’s the ROI– that’s what it’s all about today. The era of ‘nobody cares what it costs if the mission is successful’ is long, long over. Return on investment is the mantre for the times.

    This gold-plated, fuzzy-goaled, $2.5 billion gadget with the 2 year mission plan has to justify itself w/a ROI of $1 billion/yr. of science return. That’s about $3 million/day on average. It’s been there 72 hours- so far, American taxpayers have rec’d a few minutes of euphoria for an engineering triumph and a few dusty pictures…. yep, that’s sure worth $9 million so far. =eyeroll= And in case you haven’t noticed, no imagery, no media attention- the newsies like pretty pictures, not science chatter, and break away when the talk turns to instrumentation– which around the coffee machine in your faculty lounge, and to most space enthusiasts as well- is what it’s all about. And the print media bumps it to the back pages. Unfair, sure, but life is unfair. When this turtle starts moving a few meters— six weeks from now in September– when the election cycle is in full swing, nobody’s going to care much at all beyond the lounge and ivory towered turrets, until some pretty pictures are beamed down…but the red-penciled budgeteers will be watching… and waiting for some kind of ROI from the $2.5 billion buggy as the next budget cycle comes ’round.

  • DCSCA

    @Dark Blue Nine wrote @ August 8th, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    “Your logic is baffling (which comes as no surprise). MSL is a great example of a troubled NASA program being righted.” Not really. The mission was righted, but at the cost of the program. There won’t be another lander on Mars until the 2020s (if then). MSL ate the Mars Exploration Program’s remaining lunch, and between it and even more massive JWST overruns, NASA lost credibility with the White House on Mars sample return costs.”

    Yep.

  • amightywind

    NASA lost credibility with the White House on Mars sample return costs.

    Another cynical case of the pot calling the kettle black. Although I’m glad sample return was axed. MSL’s success is one of the very few good pieces of political news Obama will get before the election.

    and that was only if you believe Tinkerbell was going to sprinkle an additional $3 billion per year in fairy dust on NASA’s budget.

    The plan was to redirect shuttle funding to Constellation, a solid plan.

    We built a 450mt space station using sections no bigger than 20mt, so why wouldn’t we use the same technologies and techniques – and rockets – to do everything else in space?

    John McCain and others wanted to extend the shuttle program until we had a better idea. We could have flown it unmanned. It would have been a heck of a lot simpler to have built the ISS with 2-3 launches of an Ares V class booster. The 10 year building project was moronic.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Another cynical case of the pot calling the kettle black.”

    No, it’s not. MSL’s costs had grown from $650 million to $2 billion by October 2008:

    NASA Science Mission Directorate Cost Overrun Coverup
    Friday, October 10, 2008
    “MSL’s cost has gone from an inital $650 million (recommended in the Decadal Survey as a ‘medium cost category’ mission) up to the current estimate of over $2 billion.”

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=1312

    The election was still a month away, and President Obama wouldn’t assume office until January 2009. Like Constellation and JWST, MSL’s cost growth went out of control under Griffin and the Bush II Administration, and the Obama Administration inherited the resulting mess.

    “The plan was to redirect shuttle funding to Constellation, a solid plan.”

    No, the additional $3 billion required would have had to come on top of directing the Shuttle budget (and everything else in the human space flight side of NASA) to Constellation after Shuttle’s retirement:

    “To sustain a human-space program, the committee suggested, NASA needs up to $3 billion more a year and major changes in its current mission, now focused on returning humans to the moon by 2020. It said that that NASA’s current Constellation program; the Ares I and Ares V moon rockets, Orion capsule and Altair lunar lander; will cost at least $45 billion more than budgeted.”

    http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_space_thewritestuff/2009/10/augustine-panel-future-of-nasa-human-spaceflight-is-up-to-white-house.html

    If only Tinkerbell was real…

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 8th, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    John McCain and others wanted to extend the shuttle program until we had a better idea.

    The better idea was to end the Shuttle program and rely on redundant and affordable commercial transportation. NASA brings nothing to the table with regards to running a transportation operation. Nothing.

    The Shuttle could not keep people in space any longer than two weeks, so keeping the Shuttle flying would not have addressed our reliance on Russia for for keeping people at the ISS. Commercial Crew providers will be able to replace our dependance on the Russian-owned & operated Soyuz, and allow U.S. personnel to stay in space at the ISS or other space stations as long as NASA needs.

    And as far as lifting heavy payloads to LEO, we could have been using Delta IV Heavy for that task at 1/3 the price. All we would have needed was a space tug developed, which we’ll need anyways if we want to be a space faring nation.

    Besides, the Bush/Griffin Shuttle cancellation plan had already ended Shuttle component production by the time Obama was sworn in, and it would have taken years to restart the flow of Shuttle parts – at a HUGE expense.

    It would have been a heck of a lot simpler to have built the ISS with 2-3 launches of an Ares V class booster.

    To those that know nothing about building things, sure it would appear to be simpler. But upsizing the payload increases the complexity of everything here on Earth. For instance, how do you move a 400,000 lb payload around? Where do you build it? How do you test it?

    Again you ignore cost as a significant factor, which considering you claim to be a conservative, is really telling.

    The 10 year building project was moronic.

    Yes, everything expensive should be built in one day… NOT!

  • DCSCA

    @Heinrich Monroe wrote @ August 7th, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    “‘For instance, with $2.5 billion, you could build two sport stadiums and employ a lot more people doing so.’ “That’s an inane comment.”

    =yawn=

    “The per flight costs of the shuttle ranged from a half a billion to over a billion dollars every time you fly. You could build a sports stadium with that.” – Howard McCurdy, American University. McCurdy received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Washington and his Ph.D. from Cornell University. McCurdy is considered an expert on space policy and NASA. In 1998, he was selected to be the Charles A. Lindbergh Chair in Aerospace History, a one-year fellowship at the National Air and Space Museum.

    Surprise. He’s one of the faculty lounge set.

    @Dark Blue Nine wrote @ August 8th, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    “MSL’s costs had grown from $650 million to $2 billion by October 2008:
    NASA Science Mission Directorate Cost Overrun Coverup Friday, October 10, 2008 “MSL’s cost has gone from an inital $650 million (recommended in the Decadal Survey as a ‘medium cost category’ mission) up to the current estimate of over $2 billion.””

    A $900 million ceiling should have capped this- broaching that $1 billion then on to $2 billion puts this turtle in a class w/JWST and has red flagged the whole planetary program. Same faculty lounge minds at work, or in their case, play.

    @amightywind wrote @ August 8th, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    You’re blinded by the engineering. It’s the value and ROI of the science they were built to return that’s dubious and in question. You best hope Hillary runs and wins because at that political level, she’s the only one who actually has a expressed a genuine, personal interest in spaceflight– how deeply rooted it is is unknown. And, unfortunately, Garver’s is a position to support her. Hillary may end up being the one who revives it. What you have in this economic ‘doomsday’ election cycle is Mr. Spock vs. Commodore Decker. There is no ‘Kirk’ available ’til 2016.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi all –

    Look like some people have discovered to their amazement that NASA science budgeting is not done on a cost/benefit basis.

    While we’re on the subject of the neo-con attacks on Obama, AW, the papers concerning Griffin’s decisions as NASA Administrator have less chance of being released than Romney’s tax filings.

    (Does anyone here think that “Scoop” would care to file FOIA filings for them? Or say “Byeman”?)

    Once again, large solid grain combustion oscillations were a known problem when work began on the Ares 1.

    I am of the opinion that Bolden has done a great job in cleaning up the mess Griffiin left behind.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 8th, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    “John McCain and others wanted to extend the shuttle program until we had a better idea. We could have flown it unmanned. It would have been a heck of a lot simpler to have built the ISS with 2-3 launches of an Ares V class booster. The 10 year building project was moronic.”

    there are a lot of statements there most of them are completely well fiction.

    John McCain had no space policy. If you go look I wrote the “blog” on the McCain web site after the Florida primary in 08 where McCain cinched the Presidency suggesting that McCain consider Palin as his VP nomination (I wrote that at the invitation of the campaign); I went to school with 1 of the senior aides in the McCain campaign…and I knew what McCain’s space policy was. It was not what you stated.

    There was a growing consensus after Columbia that the shuttle was in all forms to dangerous to continue flying…and it certainly was very expensive. the “we can save a lot of money by taking it in house” approach by Alliance is in my view and the view of a lot of people…fiction and politically unworkable.

    There was nothing cost wise to be gained by flying the shuttle uncrewed…and the decisions which put the station up in “bites” was made a long time ago and was hard to reverse.

    There were thoughts along those lines…Mark H’s Geode concept and Option C…but they all suffered from a lot of issues not the least was the one of cost of Shuttle “C” and an issue of how to build something year by year with the money it would have taken…but those decisions were by the time of the McCain/Obama campaign decades old.

    Besides other then to maintain a bureacracy flying the shuttle has no value…we would still be paying the Russians to fly the strows…it is the ACRV..

    so what is your point here? RGO

  • Das Boese

    amightywind wrote @ August 8th, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    “It would have been a heck of a lot simpler to have built the ISS with 2-3 launches of an Ares V class booster.”

    It’s more likely that it would not have been built at all because of the tremendously high cost per module. Which is exactly what is happening with the non-existent payloads for SLS right now.

    If we had wanted to build ISS with a 100t-class HLV, we could have used Energia, which is in every way superior to Ares V/SLS. But we didn’t.

  • DCSCA

    Slightly off topic but noteworthy:

    Best wishes to Apollo 11 Commander, Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon, for a full and speedy recovery from quadruple bypass surgery yesterday, August 7. NBC reported news of the procedure this evening.

    Armstrong turned 82 years old on August 5.

    Happy Birthday, Neil!

  • Your logic is baffling (which comes as no surprise).

    Yes, it is no surprise to anyone that logic is baffling to you.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    “The per flight costs of the shuttle ranged from a half a billion to over a billion dollars every time you fly. You could build a sports stadium with that.” – Howard McCurdy, American University.

    I don’t think anyone is arguing about the cost of a sports stadium, so I don’t really need a space policy expert to tell me that. (Oh, Howard is Ivory Tower, so you might want to be careful about his pronouncements …) McCurdy’s point is that a billion dollars is a significant piece of of money. I mean, it’s .04% of the federal budget! I don’t think anyone disagrees with that. I just think that learning a lot more about Mars, and getting people excited about real exploring for a year and exercising a national spirit of curiosity (uncapitalized) is worth four one hundredths of a percent of the federal budget. You don’t. Is a sports stadium worth it to you? How about a couple of Hollywood movies?

    I am very curious what you DO think spending a billion dollars on in space is worthwhile. Maybe one SLS launch? What’s the ROI going to be of flinging an empty Orion around the Moon? Or maybe a few grams of 3He? Certainly a Mount Rushmore on the Moon graced with the visages of those sacred Apollo astronauts is high on your list.

    Feynman’s been dead since the last years of the Reagan administration.

    I didn’t suggest that you ask him outright. As you say, that discussion wouldn’t be very illuminating these days. I suggested that you read his smart words. I don’t think his smart words depended all that much on him being alive.

    With all due respect, Curiosity is in verification mode right now, so don’t shed too many tears about not having the pretty pictures you desperately need to help justify ROI. Then again, we can kill the system verification effort and just go out taking pretty pictures. That’ll help the ROI, won’t it?

  • Mary

    “The plan was to redirect shuttle funding to Constellation, a solid plan.”
    Constellation was a costly experiment that went wrong, leaving NASA without crew & cargo capability.

    Yes, MSL is a welcomed success even at 2.5 billion.

    I said up to..70 ton.
    A fully loaded habitat module is going to weight at least 20 ton.

    The Shuttle was too expensive ( 1.3+ billion per launch ) for what it delivered and cost too many lives in the process.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 8th, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Still “anti-everything”, eh?

    Grow some cojones and stand for something. Anything. Show you have a positive thought in your brain – that you support something space related, and that you’re not just testing out (and failing miserably) some sort of stand-up comedy routine.

  • Fred Cink

    Paul Bryan, “If these companies paid their taxes like good citizens…” Please put down your copy of “Fundamentals of Marxismism,” take off your “Red” colored glasses, dispense with your class envy mantras, and pick up a Econ 101 text. (or MAYBE even START YOUR OWN BUSINESS) NO corporation has EVER paid, does not NOW pay, and never WILL pay, one single penny of taxes. WE (costomers/consumers) have always paid, and always will pay “corporate taxes.” (as well as costs for health care and retirement plans) Papa Johns Pizza is in the process of teaching the rather ignorant/naive American public (well indoctrinated by the Left) that NOTHING is free. That increased costs on businesses (Obamacare or WHATEVER) is simply going to be passed on to customers in higher prices.
    Your RIDICULOUS comparison of reducing COSTS/PAYMENTS by a corporation, as an incentive for it to PRODUCE something (and employ people) with HANDOUTS to people for doing/producing NOTHING is so pathic a strawman argument, that even Ray Bolger would be embarrassed.

  • Fred Cink

    DCSCA… you are rarely, but once again, absolutely correct. Grannies who have been denied a SS COLA do indeed vote. The PROBLEM is that most of them really believe their SS checks are a return of their own money that they paid in. In fact, the average SS recipient exhausts their own payments (plus interest) in only 7 years. (while MILLIONS have paid in nothing) After that it’s an unsustainable ponzi scheme.

    When SS started, 39 people were paying in for every 1 that was drawing out. (historic records vary but may be as high as 45-or-more-to-1) Today were down to 2-to-1, and all the money that WAS paid in has been squandered and is no longer there.
    And the way the government addresses this problem? REDUCE the amount being paid IN (tax holiday) and INCREASE the amount being paid OUT. (COLAs and more people on SS disability)

    I sincerely HOPE I am wrong, but this once great nation (and possibly all of human civilization) is on the brink of a total economic collapse that will make the great depression look like an economic boom. We won’t HAVE a space program AT ALL (or a even a functioning free society… or a future) All because our benevolent government perpetuates the myth that life IS easy, everything IS free, (just take more money from “the rich”) and “we don’t no stinkin’ NASA R&D”

    By the way, remember those 5 dollar digital cameras you want to take pictures of the Arizona desert with? Where’d the CCD chips come from?

  • amightywind

    While we’re on the subject of the neo-con attacks on Obama, AW, the papers concerning Griffin’s decisions as NASA Administrator have less chance of being released than Romney’s tax filings.

    Inquiring Americans are far more interested in Mr Soetoro’s college transcripts.

    Once again, large solid grain combustion oscillations were a known problem when work began on the Ares 1.

    Seemed to work well in 2009 when it was launched.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mary wrote @ August 9th, 2012 at 2:14 am

    I said up to..70 ton.
    A fully loaded habitat module is going to weight at least 20 ton.

    A 20 ton or 20mt payload can be lifted to LEO using existing rockets – Delta IV Heavy, Ariane 5, Proton, and soon Falcon Heavy. Even the ESA H-IIB could probably be used if the payload was 19mt.

    Why in the world does anybody need to spend scarce resources building a bigger rocket? Where is the market demand? Where is the funded demand?

    Again, we built a 450mt space station using segments no larger than 20mt, so it’s safe to assume that we have mastered the technology and techniques needed to build just about anything we can afford to build in space for the near-term.

    Let’s not waste anymore time and money thinking 70-200mt capacity rockets solve a vital problem. Let’s focus on getting consensus on what the next human mission beyond LEO will be, and how we’re going to pay for it (i.e. international, public/private, etc.).

  • Heinrich Monroe

    In thinking about great words from dead people, let me offer this up.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syVD6blTXN8&feature=player_embedded#!

    Yes, he was a somewhat touchy-feely, ivory towery, spender of federal funds. And you know, as I said above, with Curiosity, and somewhat less with the MERs before, to a great extent we ARE on Mars. A lot of our awareness, responsiveness, mobility and even some dexterity are sitting there now in a ton of American ingenuity. No, we’re not quite breathing or tasting Mars, but I don’t think that would have bothered Carl very much.

  • Coastal Ron

    Fred Cink wrote @ August 9th, 2012 at 3:53 am

    By the way, remember those 5 dollar digital cameras you want to take pictures of the Arizona desert with? Where’d the CCD chips come from?

    Commercial chip factories that are satisfying consumer demand, not government demand. Oh, and the chips were designed by the commercial sector, not as a spin-off of NASA.

    BTW, I don’t share your ‘end of world’ view of the economy. Consumer demand has always fueled our economy, and though it was battered by the lack of control adult supervision in the financial industry during the previous administration, there are plenty of signs of recovery.

    Of course you may not even be able to read this, since you may have already retreated to your bunker in the desert to wait out the impending apocalypse. Me, I’m going to go spend money on the wonderful products and services my local merchants provide in my community. Anything you want me to pick up for you? ;-)

  • Googaw

    Let’s not waste anymore time and money thinking 70-200mt capacity rockets solve a vital problem. Let’s focus on getting consensus on what the next human mission beyond LEO will be.

    It is time for us to all agree on the next dogmatic hallucination. Coastal having debunked one economic fantasy, you must now agree to fund Coastal’s daydreams instead.

    Funny how the sucess of an unmanned machine so quickly reverts in the minds of astronaut fans to…dreams of astronauts! Apparently nothing worthy of our sustained attention is going on up there unless it is to be accompanied by diapered and useless heavenly pilgrims.

  • Googaw

    I know few here are actually interested in doing actually useful things in space, instead expecting the taxpayers to fund our useless dayreams, but let me nevertheless futilely suggest a couple of economically important areas of science that NASA should be making top priority:

    * Gathering data about CO2, global temperature, and possibly related climate and weather, in an open science manner, and doing comparative climate studies (including spectroscopy of any nearly-earth-sized planets we may discover).

    * Gathering data about comparative geology, so we can come up with better estimates of future earth resources (e.g. shed light on the issues of “peak oil”, “peak methane”, “peak phosphorous”, etc.). Again in an open science matter (i.e. publish all data and data analysis software involved on the Internet, so that any findings or claims can be independently replicated).

  • E.P. Grondine

    AW, the Ares 1 was not launched in 2009.

    If Romney intends to bring pork to Utah by trying to put astronauts on it, then I’m going to quit piping up and begin shouting.

    I was expecting such good things from Griffin, and was so disappointed.

    As a sign of minimal competence, I hope that NASA will be able to figure out whether that crater their rover is in was caused by a comet or asteroid, and when it hit.

    By the way, since comets have water, I don’t know how much we’ll learn about Mars own water and atmosphere with this rover. So much for all the self serving “Earth-like” Mars BS we’ll hear spouted by NASA’s Mars faithful over the next couple of months.

    Also by the way, as that rover is not rolling yet, perhaps we should hold off a bit on celebrating its hair’s breath landing.

    Like I said before, as far as Mars goes, I want a rover going up Valles Marineris. Like Powell in the Grand Canyon.

    And I expect the sensors on Mars orbiters to be able to tell the difference between asteroid and comet impact. If that data is already there, I expect NASA to extract it.

  • Mary

    Coastal Ron:
    Thanks for your comments but I don’t think the Falcon Heavy as designed will be around for that long and they are not going to throw any more money at the Delta. We may only require up to 55 ton, but we need that flexibility. Of course this would not be a new design, just a modernized version. Nice to know that we are in agreement that the SLS must go.

  • Paul Bryan

    Fred Cink wrote @ August 9th, 2012 at 3:09 am

    Paul Bryan, “If these companies paid their taxes like good citizens…” Please put down your copy of “Fundamentals of Marxismism,” take off your “Red” colored glasses, dispense with your class envy mantras, and pick up a Econ 101 text. (or MAYBE even START YOUR OWN BUSINESS) NO corporation has EVER paid, does not NOW pay, and never WILL pay, one single penny of taxes. WE (costomers/consumers) have always paid, and always will pay “corporate taxes.” (as well as costs for health care and retirement plans) Papa Johns Pizza is in the process of teaching the rather ignorant/naive American public (well indoctrinated by the Left) that NOTHING is free. That increased costs on businesses (Obamacare or WHATEVER) is simply going to be passed on to customers in higher prices.
    Your RIDICULOUS comparison of reducing COSTS/PAYMENTS by a corporation, as an incentive for it to PRODUCE something (and employ people) with HANDOUTS to people for doing/producing NOTHING is so pathic a strawman argument, that even Ray Bolger would be embarrassed.

    Oh contraire! Papa Johns is proving only that the business owners squeal like a girl when the true costs of their salty, fatty dietary disasters in any way rebound on them through obamacare contributions.

    By the way, in answer to one of your other points, as another poster already pointed out, the poor tend to spend their income while the rich tend to sit on it and speculate. No prizes for guessing which economic activity creates the most jobs. You might find that in the Economics 101 text that you mentioned.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 9th, 2012 at 8:15 am

    are you the person who runs that web site after the name you use on PlanetX?
    .

    “Inquiring Americans are far more interested in Mr Soetoro’s college transcripts.”

    Who? Are you referring to President Obama’s college transcripts? Yeah people are just panting over 30 year old college transcripts and dont give a darn about Willards tax returns over the last 12 years…

    Gee is it nice on Planet X? RGO

  • Googaw

    And I expect the sensors on Mars orbiters to be able to tell the difference between asteroid and comet impact. If that data is already there, I expect NASA to extract it.

    We should also insist that all this data and any data analysis software used be published on the Internet, so that any findings or claims can be replicated.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    We should also insist that all this data and any data analysis software used be published on the Internet, so that any findings or claims can be replicated.

    What does the NSSDC not have that you want? Well, there are finite periods of exclusive data rights, but that’s negotiated as part of the contributions to the mission. Also, verification of findings and claims is part and parcel of modern science. It’s an established and very powerful process. Just making something “published on the internet” doesn’t mean anything in terms of credibility.

    Publishing “all analysis software” is a just daffy, as it presumes that detailed instructions go with it on how to use it. Such software is often properly proprietary anyway. If you’re skeptical about someones result, you don’t use their software to validate their conclusions. Write your own. That’s a far better test of someones conclusions, because it is hugely problematic to reverse engineer a piece of software to figure out what it does. You’re not a scientist, are you …

  • Coastal Ron

    Mary wrote @ August 9th, 2012 at 11:58 am

    …I don’t think the Falcon Heavy as designed will be around for that long and they are not going to throw any more money at the Delta.

    You can’t have it both ways.

    1. The government needs a Delta IV Heavy-class lifter for DoD/NRO payloads, and that government need is not going away.

    2. Falcon Heavy will be around as long as SpaceX is building Falcon 9, since it is a Falcon 9 derivative product.

    Regardless, as long as both Delta IV and Falcon 9 stay in production, their heavy versions will also be available. This is the beauty (both engineering & economic) of modular rockets.

    Why would you think otherwise?

  • amightywind

    And I expect the sensors on Mars orbiters to be able to tell the difference between asteroid and comet impact. If that data is already there, I expect NASA to extract it

    Please don’t spread such silliness on this forum. A large hyper-velocity impact produces the same physical result regardless of the impactor’s composition. A comet impact does not produce a splat. This is a common misconception. Splat craters on Mars are due to the water (ice) content of the impact target.

    The MSL’s first panarama’s have been released. Looks like a view south showing the cratered highland boundary. This is the shoreline of a putative ancient Martian Sea. These are wondrous times.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mary wrote @ August 9th, 2012 at 11:58 am

    We may only require up to 55 ton, but we need that flexibility.

    No one has demonstrated that need. No one.

    Every NASA Design Reference Mission (DRM) I’ve seen can be accomplished using existing rockets, and that pretty much covers the next 20-30 years of anticipated human space exploration. And there is a plethora of industry proposals that utilize existing rockets for human missions in local space, which pretty much proves out most of what we’ll need for continuing on to Mars.

    Where are you getting the idea we need un-fueled mission elements larger than 20mt?

    Every dollar spent on unneeded transportation is a dollar that won’t go to mission hardware. Let the transportation industry worry about when larger rockets are needed. The air & water transport industries have proven time and again that they will respond to legitimate demand for larger and more efficient transports, and the space transport industry will do the same.

    Let the free market do what it does best, and focus your energies on figuring out where we’re going next in space and how we’ll pay for it.

  • E.P. Grondine

    AW –

    When it come to your knowledge of hyper-velocity impacts and their results, you rank right up there with some of the most ignorant individuals who I have had the misfortune to encounter.

    It has been clear (to some of us at least) for quite a while that hypervelocity impacts on Mars do release volatiles from Mars sub-surface. It is likely that the 27 million year periodicity of cometary impact seen on Earth is also likely to be seen on Mars in the strata of any vertically exposed feature, such as crater walls or Valles Marineris.

    But that does not mean that all of the volatiles released came from Mars.

    By the way, conservation of matter laws work on Mars as on Earth. There have to be residuals from whatever hit around the crater, perhaps covered with some dust. Due to explosive lensing, there will also have been larger pieces, which may or may not have decomposed, depending on what hit. And there should be condensates of matter from the surface hit as well.

    One nice thing about Mars is that there is no geological activity that destroys that data.

  • E.P. Grondine

    HM –

    The computing power necessary depends on the efficiency of the algorithms.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Googaw, HM –

    However it gets done, it looks to me like its going to take NASA funding.

    I won’t discuss any proprietary aspects of the data, as bottom line, the US tax payer paid for it.

    It takes money for computers and algorithms.

    Right now, I’m wondering who in NASA knows where the Hubble imagery of 73P’s debris stream is.

    For that matter, I’m still waiting for the wonderful NASA imaging folks to assemble a continuous movie of the fraagments of SL9 hitting Jupiter out of all of the still telescope imaging frames.

    I am long past tired of seeing impact science being treated like a red haired grandson by SMD. As long as I can type, I’m going to gripe about this, until this hazard is handled.

  • Googaw

    If you’re skeptical about someones result, you don’t use their software to validate their conclusions. Write your own.

    Self-serving rubbish. Code funded by taxpayers is not “properly proprietary”, especially when used to justify scientific claims which are infeasible to replicate because the code that derived them is infeasible to replicate. You want the taxpayers to pay for the code but then want to keep the code secret. If the data analysis method is obscured by hiding the code, so that its results can’t be replicated, you’re not doing science, you’re engaging in high-tech numerology. If you are doing science, you shouldn’t be afraid of publishing the full methodology. And that necessarily means publishing the actual code used to go from raw data to results. Taxpayers want to fund public science, not a secretive priesthood.

    And I have in fact worked on scientific software and know whereof I speak, your pretensions to being in an exclusive club notwithstanding.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    The computing power necessary depends on the efficiency of the algorithms.

    No kidding. It also depends on not having been impacted by a hypervelocity rock.

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ August 9th, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Code funded by taxpayers is not “properly proprietary”

    Who said they were using code built by/for NASA? NASA (or their contractor JPL in this case) may be using commercial software. And most likely they are running their software on a Unix box – can you run Unix?

    The real point is this – there is a scientific method, and you either believe in it’s process of validation, or you should stop using any high-tech products and services that rely on the scientific method.

    Besides, the NASA MSL personnel already addressed part of this concern at one of their press conferences. Someone asked what NASA would do if a picture showed something dramatic, or possibly controversial. Would they publish the picture, or would they keep it from the public. The NASA researcher said that they would publish the picture and provide their own analysis.

    This won’t stop the wacko’s from rambling about NASA keeping secrets from the public, but wacko’s have never needed real scientific data to do that anyways.

  • Mary

    Coastal Ron,

    I think we all understand the billions in wasted dollars for transportation costs since the Shuttle program thru Constellation and now SLS. Everyone I know is doing whatever they can to reverse that trend. Existing and near future tech would call for a minimum of 20-25 ton per unit for lunar base development. That’s the next logical step before an exploration vehicle to Mars and beyond. Right now we do not have the capability that would be versatile, reliable and cost effective from either SpaceX or Delta derived. All I am seeing now is subsidized commercial space without a purpose.

  • Fred Cink

    Paul Bryan… Once again, put down your Fundamentals of Marxism and really try Econ 101. “the poor tend to spend their income while the rich tend to sit on it…”

    Have you EVER borrowed money, for ANY reason? House? Car? Boat? Vacation? Education? Business? Those funds in the Bank/S&L/CU that GET LOANED OUT are the “sat on” money from all those EVIL “rich” people you despise. Those funds are NOT from social security or welfare payments.

    Care to estimate how many Government and Municipal bonds are purchased by the poor? It’s those GREEDY, immoral, “rich” people… actually funding schools, roads, bridges, museums, hospitals, flood control projects, how can they STAND themselves?!?

    And don’t forget all those crappy minimum wage jobs created when those EVIL, GREEDY, DISGUSTING R-I-C-H people buy their mansions, yachts, Gulfstreams and Boeing Business Jets. GET A CLUE.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    “Self-serving rubbish. Code funded by taxpayers is not ‘properly proprietary’ ”

    Self-serving rubbish? I don’t serve myself rubbish, and you actually have no way to know what serves me. The exclusivity of the club that I’m in is just that I know what I’m talking about. You evidently don’t.

    Intellectual property rights apply to software produced in any environment unless clearly specified otherwise in the contract or grant. Those rights may be owned by the developer, but are probably more credibly owned by the institution the developer works for, since the contract or grant was negotiated through them.

    For scientific research, federal funds pay for the deliverable. The deliverable is the research, and not public access to the tools developed to do the research. Is it any surprise that scientific researchers don’t routinely demand software from their competition? Why, they could demand notebooks, e-mails, contents of trash cans, even stale doughnuts. I mean, if they were paid for by the taxpayer …

    But let’s look at the regulations summarized from the FAR.

    ¶1824 Computer Software
    Because computer software may be treated as patentable material or may be subject to copyright or both, federal regulations concerning the rights to computer software developed under grants is governed by the type of intellectual property protection sought by the college or university.

    The way this usually works is that the government may reserve the right to access software or technical data, but in no way does that right extend to making the material public. Read “properly proprietary”.

    I’m glad you’ve worked on scientific software, but this is about contract and grant management. That’s a little different.

    The idea that there are “scientific claims which are infeasible to replicate because the code that derived them is infeasible to replicate” is just dumb. Science validation is done not by just running the analysis software again, it’s done by DOING THE EXPERIMENT AGAIN. The feasability of replication is thus assured. In the case of space science data, it’s by starting with the delivered data. That data may in itself be suspect, in which case the only choice is to try to recollect the data. The reason why scientific software is almost never published is that scientists all know this, and not because they’re trying to hide anything. Again, reverse engineering code can be a LOT harder than just redoing the experiment, and unless that reverse engineering is done thoroughly, just running someone elses code is fraught with potential for bad mistakes.

    Hope that helps.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mary wrote @ August 9th, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Existing and near future tech would call for a minimum of 20-25 ton per unit for lunar base development.

    And commercial launch providers can currently satisfy that demand with existing launchers, if you mean “ton” to mean “ton” and not “tonne”.

    Look, there is always give and take between wishes and reality. If you had $10B to use for building a lunar colony, why would you spend most of that money building a rocket that only lifts 25% more than Delta IV Heavy, Proton and Ariane 5? You wouldn’t.

    Instead you would build your mission hardware to fit on any of the available heavy-lift rockets, and just accept more modular assembly. You’re going to have modular assembly anyways, so it’s not forcing you to do anything you wouldn’t already be doing.

    If we’re going to have enough money to use for exploring space, then we’re going to have to move more towards fungible forms of transportation – interchangeable. We’ve already agreed that the SLS didn’t do that – one failure would stop missions built only for it’s size. A 70mt launch would be no better than the SLS.

    Now I don’t discount the Falcon Heavy like you do, so I’d be interested to hear your reasoning. Some have pointed to it’s 53mt capacity as some sort of validation for the need of larger launchers, but that’s because they don’t understand why SpaceX is offering the Falcon Heavy. If SpaceX could figure out some easy way to gang two Falcon 9′s together, that would give them a capability that equals Delta IV Heavy-class launchers, but double-bodied rockets haven’t proved viable yet.

    So that means the only way to make a larger modular rocket is to gang three Falcon 9 bodies together, which also happens to provide a heck of a lot more payload capacity than the market currently needs. But since that extra payload capacity only costs $128M (1/3 the price of a Delta IV Heavy), who cares if customers don’t use it’s full capabilities?

    If the international space community were to standardize space exploration hardware around a max 40,000 lb (18.2mt) size, there would be five rockets around the world (soon six with China) that could be used to support such exploration. THAT is how you get the price of space exploration down – reuse what you have, and foster competition. And 40,000 lbs is plenty big enough for doing just about anything we want to do in space with our current technology capability.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Look, if you guys want to discuss public access to code and data of climate models, that’s fine.

    But as near as I know it does not apply in this case, which is trying to determine the impact hazard to Earth from Mars data.

    For that matter, the Moon data should be re-analyzed in a two body system, instead of the one body model NASA currently uses.
    Last time I looked out my window, the Earth existed. (Yep, still there.)

    In the area of climate research, I am pretty angry about NASA’s non-continuance of TOMS, and its failure to convert other data to the TOMS format.

    Its tough to sort out AGW from normal climate variance when you don’t have data.

    As a rule, its generally hard to act intelligently when you don’t know exactly what you’re up against.

  • Googaw

    I said: “Code funded by taxpayers is not “properly proprietary””

    Put this through a certain someone’s reality warp field and you get:
    Who said they were using code built by/for NASA?

    Obviously nobody said that except in a certain someone’s private hallucinations. Taxpayer-funded scientists should only be using open source software, or at least software that they make open soruce when they publish, when it comes to the data analysis and simulation used in reaching their conclusions. They should never be using secret software that is infeasible to replicate.

    Next we move on to a certain someone’s technological illiteracy:

    And most likely they are running their software on a Unix box – can you run Unix?

    News flash: there are millions of computers outside NASA running Unix. (Every Mac, just for starters).

    The idea, BTW, is not so that every Joe Sixpack can download the data and replicate the results — it’s so that a scientist outside of NASA or its contractors can, given a reasonable amount of effort. And demanding that they rewrite the code from scratch goes far beyond reasonable effort.

    – there is a scientific method,

    That scientific method involves independent replication. It’s too bad you don’t believe scientists should actually follow it.

  • Googaw

    Intellectual property rights apply to software produced in any environment unless clearly specified otherwise in the contract or grant

    And a very common set of such rights are called open source.
    So clearly specify in contracts and grants that they must use open source software, or must publish the source code when the work is published, for any data analysis or simulation code used in reaching the published conclusions. Or they don’t get the grant. Pretty straightforward.

    Indeed, this should be clearly specified in federal legislation: call it the Public Science Act of 2012, to ensure that taxpayer funded science is public science rather than secret kabala.

  • DCSCA

    @Heinrich Monroe wrote @ August 9th, 2012 at 10:10 am

    =yawn=

    :Among the very first things Sagan mused on camera when the initial color images came back from the then paid for, freshly touchdowned, immobile, Viking 1 lander back in July, 1976 was, ‘I wonder what’s just beyond the horizon…’ Even newsies at the time raised a few eyebrows at that blind-eyed pitch. He was already chumming the waters for the next probe- that is, a new toy- even as the wrappings from the gift in hand were being shed and the second Viking, still in orbit, had yet to attempt its ultimately successful landing.

    Sagan was a clever marketer, playing on the emotional appeal of the ‘oohs-and-ahhs’ of wonderous discovery, as the success of his public television series of era, ‘Cosmos,’ highlighted, and he deserves praise for it. His high point came with interpreting Voyager imagery for wide-eyed TV audiences– culminating in the ‘family portrait’ presser some years on. However, when the ‘billions and billions’ in costs contaminated his conversations, it always brought the starry-eyed pitch back to earth..

    Today’s presser in Pasadena was droll. No $3 million/day worth of science on this date- Curiosity’s overlords have ‘stood down’ from pursuing any ‘science’ for a few sols as the somewhat visibly annoyed, faculty-lounged, elbow-patched set mused with technobabble over the time, necessity and limitations of managing, storing and down loading imagery as if to imply they dont have enough memory and computing on this S2.5 billion turtle to return ‘pretty pictures’ for the press. But a fellow spent 15 minutes or so hyping the great ‘animation’ they made the several thousand of hits on th web it got. =eyeroll= Unreal.

    Friday’s episode: the EDL team will give us an engineering show– that is, the splendid engineering everybody cheered five days ago, not the science.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ August 9th, 2012 at 2:39 am

    ROFLMAO- Have you pitched for Musk today– have you found and posted to share Musk’s congratulations(?!) to the NASA/JPL team for Curiosity’s landing– You’re just crankin’ to crank and you know what DCSCA advocates- but you don’t like Luna, do ‘ya, Dragon Boy.

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ August 9th, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    If the international space community were to standardize space exploration hardware

    Now that actually makes sense. However, have you checked w/something more down to earth- like left drive/right drive nations; or Apple vs. Mircrsoft; THe Mac vs. the PC; DVD+R vs. DVD-R; Beta vs. VHS .. you’re thinking like a sociaslist, not a free market capitalist. Let’s let Musk set the standards– but then, he’s flown nobody, yet, has he. =eyeroll=

    Sorry for typos- earthly coffee spill.

  • DCSCA

    Case in point today- August is a slow month in the magazine biz- usually the thinnest pubs w/weakest ad sales. CNN’s Blitzer held up a copy of this week’s Time w/t Mars cover (space cover storie are rare these days in MSM BTW)- then he said to his viewers and guest(s)- a Time rep, “Lets not talk about Mars, let’s talk politics…” and drone on w/a the parlor game of Romney Veep picking.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Obviously nobody said that except in a certain someone’s private hallucinations. Taxpayer-funded scientists should only be using open source software, or at least software that they make open soruce when they publish, when it comes to the data analysis and simulation used in reaching their conclusions. They should never be using secret software that is infeasible to replicate”

    Why? There is plenty of commercial software available. To support or disprove a hypothesis you usually use statistics not self made software (unless the software itself is the experiment). And also yes they do replicate experiments.

  • Googaw

    Science validation is done not by just running the analysis software again, it’s done by DOING THE EXPERIMENT AGAIN…In the case of space science data, it’s by starting with the delivered data

    Exactly. We try to replicate as much as we can replicate. Raw experimental data is just the begining. Most scientific conclusions involve taking the raw data and runnning statistical and other mathematical analyses on them, and comparing them in sophisticated ways to other data. Often these analyses involve logic far more complicated than gets summarized in the published results. This means it can’t be feasibly replicated or validated without a full, complete record of the methods used — i.e., the source code.

    The products of taxpayer-funed science, outside of obvious national security considerations for defense work, must be made replicable at least as to these methods of analyses. The deliverable of a scientist to the public must include feasibly replicable analyses, not just summaries, or the taxpayers shouldn’t be funding it.

    Difficulty in recollecting the raw data should not be used as an excuse to make the remainder of the replication and validation process similarly difficult. Quite often, perhaps even more commonly, the errors and biases for which replication is the antedote are in the methods of analysis, not in the raw data.

    Once you’ve blocked the ability to independently check for these errors, as secret data analysis and simulation software has now done, the scientific method has gone out the window — at this point we just have high-tech numerologists running the numbers on their secret algorithms and saying “trust me, I’m a scientist”. That’s not science and taxpayer money should not be used to fund such a corrupt mockery of science. It’s incredible that you would try to defend it.

  • DCSCA

    @amightywind wrote @ August 9th, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    “The MSL’s first panarama’s have been released. Looks like a view south showing the cratered highland boundary. This is the shoreline of a putative ancient Martian Sea. These are wondrous times.”

    That’s pretty funny, Windy, cuz the team members themselves say it looks much like the Mojave Desert north of Los Angeles, California, USA, on Planet Earth.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    Put this through a certain someone’s reality warp field and you get: Who said they were using code built by/for NASA?

    No, I don’t think that’s what anyone “got”. Is that supposed to be a quote? Who’s hallucinating here? I miss the point of this remark.

    Good point about Unix boxes. C’mon Ron …

    “demanding that they rewrite the code from scratch goes far beyond reasonable effort.”

    No it doesn’t. And it’s enormously easier (as I keep saying, but you keep not understanding) than reverse engineering the code you get from the researcher you’re checking on. If I want to check the result of Joe, however can I expect to do so when Joe dumps several thousand lines of code on me? Oh, is that code properly written, and documented, so I have even a clue what’s going on where in it? Good luck on your “reasonable amount of effort”. In fact, researchers who work in the field almost certainly have many routines of their own which which they can cobble together whatever they need to do the reanalysis. That’s just the way it works.

    Take image processing, and a simple example. If Joe Pancam does a stretch of an image and finds angels and witches there, I sure don’t need his software to do a stretch on the same image to look for them. I have my own image processing software. In fact, maybe the angels and witches are coming out of his software! So you’re saying I can prove that angels and witches are there by using his software again? Pretty slick. Or maybe I have to reverse engineer his software so I can identify his angels and witches subroutine?

    “Taxpayer-funded scientists should only be using open source software, or at least software that they make open soruce when they publish, when it comes to the data analysis and simulation used in reaching their conclusions.”

    The FAR doesn’t think so. You need to take it up with the GSA and Congress. In fact, you might get yourself a lawyer. Wait, you mean I shouldn’t use MS Office for research? I shouldn’t use OSX? I shouldn’t use Outlook? I shouldn’t use Mathematica? IDL? Oh gosh … get out the slide rules and typewriters.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 9th, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Sorry for typos- earthly coffee spill.

    You have typo’s in virtually every post you make. Are you spilling that much coffee?

    Besides it’s not the typo’s that make you hard to understand, it’s your lack of intellectual content. And no amount of caffeine can fix that… ;-)

    Oh, and grow any cojones yet? Figure out what you actually support in a public way? Or are you still trying to imitate Don Rickles?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Fred Cink wrote @ August 9th, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    your post is really a load of horse manure…its all fox noise/News propaganda but little of it is accurate.

    “Have you EVER borrowed money, for ANY reason? House? Car? Boat? Vacation? Education? Business? Those funds in the Bank/S&L/CU that GET LOANED OUT are the “sat on” money from all those EVIL “rich” people you despise. Those funds are NOT from social security or welfare payments.”

    OK the last sentence is accurate the rest is not.

    The vast majority of funds in banks are funds held in some fashion by the middle class…as long as we are talking real money; ie not bounced investements or speculations which only have value on paper.

    There are rich people like Elon Musk who put their money to work the old fashion way; ie they create products with it which have value on their own face…and then there are people like Willard Mitt Romney whose money just sits more or less churned in monetary instruments to make more money…the fact that most of this wealth is not worth the paper it is printed on is important.

    “Care to estimate how many Government and Municipal bonds are purchased by the poor? It’s those GREEDY, immoral, “rich” people… actually funding schools, roads, bridges, museums, hospitals, flood control projects, how can they STAND themselves?!?”

    OK “the poor” dont buy a lot of Muny bonds…but the middle class and organizations of the middle class hold most of them. I dont recall the breakdown any more of the school bonds sold in the state of Texas but from my time on the school board I was surprised…the number was oh 60-70 percent owned by both the middle class and things like (gasp) teachers retirement funds.

    “And don’t forget all those crappy minimum wage jobs created when those EVIL, GREEDY, DISGUSTING R-I-C-H people buy their mansions, yachts, Gulfstreams and Boeing Business Jets. GET A CLUE.”

    there are probably some min wage jobs at Boeing and Gulfstream but not many and the vast majority of Gulfstreams are owned by corporations and Boeings by airlines. How do I know? I fly both of them

    F minus Fred…go back to Fox and the anchor babes. RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ August 9th, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Often these analyses involve logic far more complicated than gets summarized in the published results. This means it can’t be feasibly replicated or validated without a full, complete record of the methods used — i.e., the source code.

    As a wise man once said, there is more than one way to shoot a cat.

    You seem to be in full ‘Chicken Little’ mode again. Imagining all sorts of imaginary evils going on in the world.

    What “logic far more complicated than gets summarized in the published results” are you imagining is taking place? Pictures? Temperature readings? Oh my, what secret stuff. Next it will be chemical readings.

    While it’s true that some software may contain proprietary algorithms, that’s not to say someone can’t create their own algorithms to validate the results being claimed. In fact that’s usually a good idea, since it means that the results aren’t the result of a algorithmic bias.

    Go take your meds and calm down.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 9th, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    You’re just crankin’ to crank and you know what DCSCA advocates

    You spend all your time attacking everyone else, so no, I have no idea what you actually stand for, especially since you don’t try to persuade anyone to support what you stand for.

    As for “crankin’ to crank”, heed thine own words.

    but you don’t like Luna, do ‘ya

    If you actually read what I write, instead of blindly attacking me, you would know that I want to go everywhere – including back to the Moon. I’m not against any location, but against wasteful spending getting us there.

    In the past you have alluded to supporting the SLS for use in getting back to the Moon. Do you still?

    If so, then tell us how the SLS doesn’t violate every comment you’ve made about “borrowing 43 cents on the dollar” when other people talk about government space exploration (like the MSL).

    You are such a hypocrite in that regard – just crankin’ to crank to use your phrase.

    But no one should say anything bad about your Apollo gods, even though we’re still borrowing money to pay off that debt too. Gee, something else you’re a hypocrite about. What a surprise.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    The products of taxpayer-funed science, outside of obvious national security considerations for defense work, must be made replicable at least as to these methods of analyses.

    I think your problem here is the word “replicatable”. A scientist replicates the work of others by using data (maybe the same data, or maybe new data on the same phenomenon) and doing an independent analysis that the scientist can argue has fidelity with respect to the question that is being asked. The scientist does NOT have to replicate the work of others by doing exactly what they did. If the first team used #2 pencils, does the replicator scientist have to use those as well? I think not.

    Once you’ve blocked the ability to independently check for these errors, as secret data analysis and simulation software has now done, the scientific method has gone out the window

    And again, to you, an “independent check” is doing exactly the same thing, using exactly the same software. No, the scientific method is to approach the data in a truly independent manner, making the same assumptions, and see if you get the same result. Software is the implementation of assumptions. It isn’t the assumptions themselves.

    Again, for image processing, if a team finds angels and witches in an image using IRAF, I’d sure like to know if I see those same angels and witches using IDL. The question is whether angels and witches are really there, and not so much if IRAF put them there.

  • Googaw

    [Rewriting the code from scratch is] enormously easier (as I keep saying, but you keep not understanding) than reverse engineering the code you get from the researcher you’re checking on

    Utterly and preposterously wrong. You’re the one here who doesn’t understand algorithms and software engineering. The mathematical space of algorithms far surpasses the ability of a human (or even a brute-forcing computer, or both combined) to figure out. You usually can’t reverse-engineer an algorithm unless the function is completely speccified. But we aren’t geting such specifications in the summary results that you consider proper deliverables — we are getting summaries that fall far short of allowing feasible replication.

    Good software engineers will tell you that the best specification or documentation of the code is the code itself. Documentation and specifications are usually woefully incomplete, and soon go out of date. Source-code controlled open software never does.

    If Joe Pancam does a stretch of an image and finds angels and witches there, I sure don’t need his software to do a stretch on the same image to look for them.

    Joe Pancam wouldn’t have used a standard stretch operation, because a standard operation wouldn’t have found the angels and witches, just as you wont’ when you replicate it. He will use his secret algorithm, which sounds very impressive and authoratiative but you can’t replicate. And according to you we are supposed to call this great science and the taxpayers are supposed to fund it.

  • Googaw

    Wait, you mean I shouldn’t use MS Office for research? I shouldn’t use OSX? I shouldn’t use Outlook??

    If you are using these for your data analysis or simulation, you've got far bigger problems than we can solve in this thread….

  • Googaw

    You need to take it up with the GSA and Congress.

    Why do you think I’m posting this on a forum called “Space Politics”?

  • E.P. Grondine

    Okay you guys: we don’t have enough data to form a good enough climate model to be reliable, otherwise our farmers would have been better positioned for this drought.

    Now do you think that perhaps we ought to get that data first, before we spend $2,700 million on getting data from Mars? Cost benefit analysis would say yes, but feel free to disagree.

    The problem with NASA science budgeting is that it is set by already existing NASA scientific clients, instead of by the value of the data to society as a whole for research on the fundamental problems facing this nation.

    I’ve pretty well had more than my fill of NASA pork and inter-center rivalry.
    Sorry, but I am feeling a little queasy right now. Let’s see if this rover will be able to roll before we celebrate too much.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    If you are using these for your data analysis or simulation, you’ve got far bigger problems than we can solve in this thread….

    Gee, but the deliverable on my grant is to write papers, and at least writing papers requires coordination with my colleagues. Back to that #2 pencil, I guess, and maybe the phone company software that I use to connect with them that way won’t apply. Smirk …

    You really sound like someone who has “worked on” scientific software. Not a leadership role, eh? Just punchin’ away on the keyboard.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    Why do you think I’m posting this on a forum called “Space Politics”?

    With due respect to Jeff, if you consider this blog an advocacy route to Congress and the Administration, you’ve got far bigger problems than we can solve in this thread.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    Why do you think I’m posting this on a forum called “Space Politics”?

    With due respect to Jeff, if you consider this blog an advocacy route to Congress and the Administration, you’ve got far bigger problems than we can solve in this thread.

    He will use his secret algorithm, which sounds very impressive and authoratiative but you can’t replicate.

    QED, he’s wrong. That’s how science works. I think you get it now.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ August 9th, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Wrong. In fact, it is your own endless howling about financing faux, ‘private’ commercial HSF ops at the expense of government funded space projects of scale that makes your postings all the more hilarious. But guess what, this one IS way, way over-priced for what it’s been tasked to do.

    Go back and review the post-landing pressers from the successfully landed and significantly less costly Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity probes– same pretty red pictures akin to the Mojave Desert, same dust… same gee-whiz calls for give us more photos…. not much different from the stuff we’re being fed now. And the height of unintended hilarity today was the ‘surprise’ that rocket thrust firing relatively close to the surface in a low density atmosphere kicked up debris that peppered the instrument deck, threatening instrumentation– they said they didn’t think of or expect that– it doesn’t take ‘rocket science,’ just some plain common sense to expect otherwise.

    But the very best line today came from the ivory-towered set when one of them said with a straight face that this $2.5 billion gold-plated turtle was ‘resource constrained’ — we’re still laughing here at that faculty-lounged, elbow-patched knee slapper.

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    Hey DCSCA. Believe your a fan of the Russian space industry. Didn’t you say something along the lines of they’re all the U.S. needs for HSF so no need to invest in U.S. commercial, (happy to be corrected). Seems like they’re going through a bit of a rough patch at the moment. Any suggestions for them?

  • amightywind

    That’s pretty funny, Windy, cuz the team members themselves say it looks much like the Mojave Desert north of Los Angeles

    And so it does now, you moron. Death Valley was a large lake only 15000 years ago. 4.5 billion years of Martian history is a long time. Think for a moment, if it isn’t too painful. Something deposited sediments to a minimum depth of the height of Mt. Sharp.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 9th, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    In fact, it is your own endless howling about financing faux, ‘private’ commercial HSF ops at the expense of government funded space projects of scale that makes your postings all the more hilarious.

    So, you would rather all space exploration be funded by the public – when “the federal government IS borrowing 43 cents of every dollar it spends” – than have non-governmental entities use their own money to contribute?

    Don’t you see how bizarre that makes you sound?

    On the one hand you keep harping about how in debt the U.S. is, but on the other hand you absolutely abhor the idea of anyone either A) making space access less expensive (i.e. Elon Musk & SpaceX), or B) private money being used in addition to government funds for products and services the U.S. needs for space activity.

    Now do you see why everything you say sounds like you’re arguing against both sides of issues?

    You are truly bizarre. Putin lovin’ bizarre.

  • Googaw

    I want to go everywhere

    And the taxpayer sure had better shell out to make all your daydreams come true, those stingy bastards.

  • Googaw

    Gee, but the deliverable on my grant is to write papers

    It’s too bad that you can’t take a serious topic seriously. You beg and beg for tax dollars to go to your pet science projects, yet when a taxpayer with experience in scientific software comes along with a reasonable proposal for improving that science, first you insuilt their intelligence and then you make stupid jokes like this. Rotsa ruck in your future begging for a continually diminishing slice of the taxpayer pie going to your particular useless daydreams.

  • Mary

    Coastal Ron,
    Thanks for your input on this subject. I think one day we may have complete international cooperation, but right now things are a little volatile. I do support the development of a modest polar moon base ( I’ll pass on the Newt colony ) and not just for research. I believe companies like SpaceX will play a supportive role when they are ready. I know it won’t be easy, but Congress needs to be convinced that its time to take the next step for human exploration. I believe this time around we will see a good return on this investment.

  • Googaw

    Now do you think that perhaps we ought to get that data first, before we spend $2,700 million on getting data from Mars?

    I quite agree. Indeed, the unmentionable topic you mentioned is the most important space science topic of all, but alas it has been declared OT, at least for this thread. But the short answer is emphatically yes. And that goes generally — our science ought to be addressing economically important problems, rather than obsessing on fashionable speculations and sciences without subjects. And I’d include impact risk on that list of economically important subjects, albeit not as high as the unmentionable and comparative geology.

    And since important subjects are generally conroversial subjects, it needs to be done in a very open and clear manner — not via secret algorithms. And we need to lose the “the answer is just beyond the horizon of _this_ probe” tease. If you want to be funded by the taxpayer you either measure what you want to measure and search where you want to discover on this trip, within this budget, or lose the opportunity while taxpayer-funded science moves on to some other target or science that is more amenable to cost-effective and economically important learning about our universe.

    The problem with NASA science budgeting is that it is set by already existing NASA scientific clients, instead of by the value of the data to society as a whole for research on the fundamental problems facing this nation.

    Very sad but very true. And now it seems they aren’t satisfied with a mere coerced monopoly on space science: they want to do away with the accountability of replicability that has long been the norm in science. It’s apparently OK for them to make authoritative announcements based on unreplicable secret methods and call it “science.” Apparently “science” for NASA now includes government-funded computational mysticism, in addition to sciences without subjects and economically worthless daydreams.

    But at least the engineering makes me proud. I’m still enjoying how they stuck that landing.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Case in point today- August is a slow month in the magazine biz- usually the thinnest pubs w/weakest ad sales. CNN’s Blitzer held up a copy of this week’s Time w/t Mars cover (space cover storie are rare these days in MSM BTW)- then he said to his viewers and guest(s)- a Time rep, “Lets not talk about Mars, let’s talk politics…” and drone on w/a the parlor game of Romney Veep picking.”

    Palor Game? Ah I know you are not a US citzen but the Choice of VP is a very important thing. It will trump just about any other news and is a major discussion every presidential election Cycle. No routine spaceflight would stop that from happening even if it were a landing on the moon. It is what is talked about upon every 4 years.

    In the US a Presidential Candidate’s VP choice is their first big decision and it will be evaluated by voters. It gives an insight as to how this person might think if elected.

    A bad VP choice can do damage (Quayle) or can send your campaign down in flames (Palin). A good one can swing a crucial state your way (LBJ and Texas for Kennedy). It can be an attempt to reach out to different elements of your own party (Bush I, LBJ) esp. elements that may have been offended during the primaries (New England liberal Kennedy vs. Conservative Southern Democrats) or more recently but not successfully (Gore/Lieberman). It can be a chance to cover weakness of your own campaign (Biden’s age/experince to Obama’s Youth).

    In the US the VP will become President if the President is impeached, dies, or resigns therefore people kind of like having a competent one and the choice of it makes a big impact as to if the candidate will win the election or not.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Go back and review the post-landing pressers from the successfully landed and significantly less costly Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity probes– same pretty red pictures akin to the Mojave Desert, same dust… same gee-whiz calls for give us more photos…. not much different from the stuff we’re being fed now.”

    Science is more than just imagery. In fact they even considered not putting a Camera on Pioneer 10/11! Probes carry more than just a camera.

    In the case of Sojourner, that was more an engineering mission than a science one. It was thought that a rover would not last long on Mars but could be helpful in extending the reach of instruments since a rover could travel further than an arm. Instead they found out that the lander limited the range of the rover. Sojourner was still working, but Pathfinder( the lander) died first. In terms of science it objective was to study a wide varity of rocks that were moved to the landing location via a supposed flood. It also studied weather directly. There were also questions about plate tectonics and how it works on Mars. Sojourner found rocks that had been remelted by volcanic activity.

    MER’s science object was to determine if liquid water ever existed on Mars and perhaps how long. MER lacks metorlogy instramets. Mars gives very contradictory information about that as it has features that suggest water flowed, but lacked certain minerals generated in water. In the case of Sprit what was thought to be a dry lake turned out to be volcanic (Sprit did discover evidence of hot springs….). In the case of Oppy it landed where a mineral that usually (but not always) forms in water was detected from Orbit. In Oppy’s case it found evidence of water (a shallow sea or a flood plain). In both cases they found places where life on earth would have done well in the past.

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ August 9th, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    I’ll add that another problem with NASA Science and NASA generally is that they lack sufficient discipline to stay on budget and schedule for their projects. Even MER significantly exceeded the original budget although they did manage to stay on schedule – but only just when you read the book about it by the PI on the mission Steve Squyres. MER was also notable in that they built and flew 2 not just the 1. When you take that into account, they did pretty well but it’s about the last mission that has managed to achieve that result. All the others have failed if you consider budget and schedule key project deliverables.

  • pathfinder_01 wrote:

    In the US the VP will become President if the President is impeached, dies, or resigns therefore people kind of like having a competent one and the choice of it makes a big impact as to if the candidate will win the election or not.

    It should also be noted that the Vice-President traditionally is the nominal head of the space program (established by JFK in 1961 to give LBJ something to do).

    That said, it was a terrible putdown by Wolf Blitzer. More evidence of the Inside-the-Beltway mentality.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mary wrote @ August 10th, 2012 at 12:39 am

    I think one day we may have complete international cooperation, but right now things are a little volatile.

    Volatile? We’ve had an international space station in orbit for over 11 years. What’s “volatile” about that?

    I know it won’t be easy, but Congress needs to be convinced that its time to take the next step for human exploration.

    They already support human exploration, but they also don’t want to increase NASA’s budget. You can only put so much human space activity within a $18B/year budget, and we’re pretty close to being there.

    As to Congress, without some sort of recognized “National Imperative”, no Congress is going to provide funding for any big projects in space beyond the scope of NASA’s current budget. Absent the aberration called Constellation, this 40 year trend should be pretty easy to recognize.

    I believe this time around we will see a good return on this investment.

    What an odd comment.

    The Apollo program was a huge success, but it’s goals were political – science was secondary.

    So you seem to be saying that the U.S. Government will somehow profit by funding a modest polar moon base? How is that supposed to work?

    How does the U.S. Taxpayer get paid back their investment? With lunar water? Land rights? Mining shares?

    Congress will only make such a huge investment if it supports a strategic goal for the U.S., and that so far has been the mirage that many have chased but none have found.

  • Mary

    Coastal Ron,

    Right now relations with China and Russia are not at their best and may get a lot worse with the current situation in the Middle East, so this is not about the ISS.

    Apollo was a huge success for private and commercial as well as new tech, so it was not an “odd” comment for developing a Lunar base.

    We have wasted billions of taxpayer dollars on the Constellation program, exploring shareholder investment accounts, if you want to tag that as human exploration. Anyway, that’s old news.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ August 9th, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Inaccurate. As usual.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Googaw –

    Impact is a geological process on Earth as it is on Mars.

    But here on Earth plate tectonics and weathering destroy data which we can recover from Mars.

    Speaking about private versus public science, oil pools in the fractures of impacts. Care to speculate on how that affects impact studies?

    If we’re going to determine what AGW hazard there is, solar variability and its effects are going to have to be very well understood first.

    This should also benefit food production, as with over 7 billion people living on Earth, ensuring their food supply is not a trivial task.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 10th, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Inaccurate

    What? You’ve already admitted that you want “government funded space projects of scale“, and you are on record chastising people that want government funding, since “the federal government IS borrowing 43 cents of every dollar it spends.

    These are your words, found in the posts above, and they clearly show you being hypocritical.

    Which makes it seem, again in your words, “you’re just crankin’ to crank.

    You are the one that is inaccurate.

  • Googaw

    oil pools in the fractures of impacts. Care to speculate on how that affects impact studies?

    Well it pools in near-surfaces fractures generally on the earth, right? And many fractures are caused by earthquakes or plate tectonics generally rather than impacts?

    But perhaps this means we could get useful data for impact science from the oil companies, who do quite detailed studies of such fractures.

  • Apollo was a huge success for private and commercial as well as new tech, so it was not an “odd” comment for developing a Lunar base.

    Really?

    In what way was “Apollo a huge success for private and commercial as well as new tech…”

    Because any sane assessment of the program was that it was a disaster in that regard.

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