DailyDirt: Space Robots...

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

The satellites we've been sending up into space are getting more advanced all the time. Even some of the really old spacecraft we launched in the 1970s have surprisingly continued to operate and perform useful tasks. Here are just a few more examples of space gear that hopefully won't become space junk anytime soon. By the way, StumbleUpon can also recommend some good Techdirt articles, too.


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    Marvin, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 5:19pm

    "Reverse primary thrust, Marvin." That's what they say to me. "Open airlock number 3, Marvin." "Marvin, can you pick up that piece of paper?" Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they ask me to pick up a piece of paper.

     

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      Michael Ho (profile), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 5:35pm

      Re:

      Super-intelligent robots in movies never seem to figure out that they can probably just leave humans and the planet Earth behind fairly easily, instead of trying to waste their energy destroying us...

      Great quote from the Hitchhiker's Guide, BTW...

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 6:49pm

        Re: Re:

        Every time a super-intelligent device is about to destroy the world, some arrogant starship captain and his annoying first officer comes up with "I'll stop it with applied illogic!" or "Compute, to the last decimal, the value of pi!" and the whole thing goes BOOM!

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 5:22pm

    Shameless plug.

    Contribute to the open OpenStreets project by using your cellphone to map the world.
    https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Beginners'_guide

    Then use SRTM data from everywhere to produce a beautiful 3D map.

     

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    Rekrul, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 6:10pm

    Voyager 2 is about 14 BILLION kilometers from earth now, but it's still getting software upgrades after 34 years in service.

    Voyager 2 has lasted 34 years and will probably keep operating for at least another 10? I guess NASA used to have better quality control in the old days.

     

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      Michael Ho (profile), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 6:17pm

      Re:

      I sorta wonder how much cheaper it would be to create a voyager-clone with today's technology... Launching satellites hasn't gotten much cheaper over the years.

       

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        Rekrul, Jan 26th, 2012 @ 1:25pm

        Re: Re:

        I sorta wonder how much cheaper it would be to create a voyager-clone with today's technology... Launching satellites hasn't gotten much cheaper over the years.

        They could probably make them for 1/4 the original cost, but they'd only operate for 2-5 years, and probably have a 40% failure rate.

         

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          abc gum, Jan 26th, 2012 @ 6:04pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "They could probably make them for 1/4 the original cost, but they'd only operate for 2-5 years, and probably have a 40% failure rate."

          Agreed - if the requirement were 1/4 the original cost, adjusted for inflation.

          It is not really all that complicated ... cost, life expectancy and schedule all play significant roles in the design considerations of any project be it space based or earth bound. Space missions tend to be more complicated because one can not simply remove and replace bad components.

          There have been many missions to space lately which have far exceeded their design goals, the Mars Rovers for example.

          Any device intended to withstand harsh environments is going to require above average resources to design, construct and fund, and it will have a limited life cycle. This is just the way it is and pretending otherwise is being unrealistic.

           

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      abc gum, Jan 26th, 2012 @ 6:31am

      Re:

      "I guess NASA used to have better quality control in the old days."

      Yes, that was before "Faster Better Cheaper".
      http://history.nasa.gov/dan_goldin.html

      There was a significant increase in the number of failures after implementation of the new NASA mantra and it became readily apparent that one could only have two of the three at any particular time - and changing in mid stream caused all sorts of chaos.

      In addition, the old circuitry is much more resistant to the adverse affects of the harsh environment of space. Discrete components have much larger junction dimensions compared to their integrated circuit replacements. High energy particles cause problems in unshielded IC chips, the symptoms of which range from complete failure to bit flip. Redundant systems, error correction and shielding help, but added complexity comes at a price.

       

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    Pixelation, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 6:52pm

    "A robotic arm with a sticky hand will grab onto objects in space with the help of electrostatic forces. "

    Great, they're making robot thieves now. A perfect addition to your botnet.

     

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