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Thread: How's it Done?

  1. #1 How's it Done? 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    I welcome any How's it Done science questions for this thread. I have one right now that I've always wondered about....

    I could probably google the answer(s) but I would rather hear it from resident experts. It takes 9.5 minutes for a radio signal to reach Mars. When NASA for instance is landing a craft on the planet's surface I'm sure they are in radio communication with it. So how do they accomplish a landing when they are 9 1/2 minutes behind in time? or would that number be doubled to 19 minutes behind?


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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    When NASA for instance is landing a craft on the planet's surface I'm sure they are in radio communication with it. So how do they accomplish a landing when they are 9 1/2 minutes behind in time?
    It all has to be automated. By the time they get to hear whether it was successful or not, it is all over.

    I can't check (because of a firewall) but I think this might be the video with the simulation of the landing procedure:
    7 Minutes of Terror: Curiosity Rover's Risky Mars Landing | Video | Space.com


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    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    When NASA for instance is landing a craft on the planet's surface I'm sure they are in radio communication with it. So how do they accomplish a landing when they are 9 1/2 minutes behind in time?
    It all has to be automated. By the time they get to hear whether it was successful or not, it is all over.

    I can't check (because of a firewall) but I think this might be the video with the simulation of the landing procedure:
    7 Minutes of Terror: Curiosity Rover's Risky Mars Landing | Video | Space.com
    So everything is done by computers? That's was my thought.

    In flight, if a course correction is required, does it come from the onboard computers as well?
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    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    At a guess: TERPROM and TERCOM, or something very closely related.
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  6. #5  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    At a guess: TERPROM and TERCOM, or something very closely related.
    Those would be used during the descent phase I assume but to clarify what I was asking deals with the actual spacecraft needing to change course during flight. Would that also be an onboard computer's task or would mission control need to calculate the timing of a correction.
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    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Sorry, should have said that was a reply to the OP, not the question in the post directly above mine.
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    Forum Professor jrmonroe's Avatar
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    I would guess offhand that, whatever Mission Control can control, they will control. Mid-course correction can cause serious changes in the flight path and destination, making it especially critical. I'm also guessing that Mission Control has more computing power than the craft.
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  9. #8  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Once the rover is on the surface is it programmed to perform or does it need communication with Earth? If so, then how do controllers contend with the time lag for radio signals?
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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