NASA recently announced that the Mars rover Curiosity had collected the first sample from the interior of a rock on another planet. This in itself is a feat of engineering.
Being an unmanned, interplanetary mission, there are no opportunities to have an astronaut go out and repair the rover when there is a problem. The rover is also not controllable from a console here on earth, like a drone, since there is an appreciable communication delay. To control these long-range robots, a program must be uploaded and then activated. The amount of testing and the number of contingencies that must be accounted for is very large.
Curiosity shows us the first sample from the inside of a rock of another planet. (Source: NASA)
Now that the sample has been collected, it will be moved to a device that will sieve it and send particles to two instruments, Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin), and Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM). The sieve will allow particles up to 150 microns across. The analysis will take some time to complete, but we will be waiting with bated breath as these rocks were judged to have a potentially interesting history, being of a sedimentary type. This might indicate the presence of water, and is a core area of investigation for the mission.
The results of the analysis should be very interesting and we will keep you up to date. The results will also guide the Curiosity science team in choosing the next target rock.
Thanks for a reminder about how the term "rocket science" started. Although I've been told by people in the know that "Even rocket science isn't rocket science," meaning it's not nearly as complex as some of the technologies it's compared to in phrases using that term. I also seek the satisfaction of doing things well, although I can't see that as selfish. I think that's a value associated with certain generations, although I helped instill it in my nephew while helping to raise him. I'm just happy to have it.
Dave, a lot of the excitement in the early days of space exploraiton had to do with the fact that it was totally new. There was also a cold war aspect. It was competition with the Soviets. I agree with you that there is a lot of interesting stuff going on now. Perhaps part of it is that it is not really percieved as new, and part is that there are lots of other applications of technology. Of course a part of it is that NASA is not so good at promoting itself as it was, in my opinion.
@ Dave P, I too have been fascinated by the space program since I saw Armstrong walk on the moon live on television. I became consumed by everything space related fro the age of 4 into adulthood, so I think inspiration should begin as early as possible. Also, it would help immensely if schools taught children how to think, not what to think.
@naperlou: I also think that space plays a different role in the public imagination than it did in the 1960s or even in the 1980s. I remember Star Trek IV, SpaceCamp, Flight of the Navigator, and other films that presented an overwhelmingly positive and optimistic vision of space travel. Star Trek, in particular, was a huge inspiration to me. More recent movies (even including the more recent Star Trek films) tend to present a darker, grittier, and less kid-friendly view of space.
Truchard will be presented the award at the 2014 Golden Mousetrap Awards ceremony during the co-located events Pacific Design & Manufacturing, MD&M West, WestPack, PLASTEC West, Electronics West, ATX West, and AeroCon.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
The IEEE Computer Society has named the top 10 trends for 2014. You can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in health care data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.