I think most people would agree PHP is a four-letter word.
The SNAP-9A used in the Transit 5B-2 navigation satellite launched in 1963 weighed 12.3 kg and produced 25 watts of power. That looks about like a perfect fit for Philae, and I'm sure more efficient thermocouplers are available today that could further reduce the weight.
They could also have made Rosetta much larger, and possibly have got to its destination much faster, by launching on a Saturn V rather than an Ariane 5.
(Unfortunately, the jumbo-sized booster was unavailable - as was the RTG.)
Like the GP, I was also surprised to hear that a probe so far from Earth was solar powered, I wouldn't have thought there was enough light that far out even without the shadows. Sure it's an assumption but it's not baseless, previous deep space probes such as Cassini, pioneer, and voyager are all nuclear powered.
NASA's Juno probe, currently en route to Jupiter, is also solar powered.
RTGs are great, but availability is limited.
By the time "the launch window" comes around you could easily have them (and hell, us as well, the viewing public) convinced that they are onboard a genuine Mars mission rocket heading into space... much easier to achieve - and cheaper and safer - if it's all in a studio.
Been done already (albeit with a flight to a peculiarly non-weightless 'low Earth orbit' rather than a mission to Mars) with the 2005 television series Space Cadets.
For my own use, I was thinking of turning mine into an airplay-compatible receiver (I found that there is software for for that) and built it together with (wifi dongle and a little amp) into a very old radio cabinet. Nice to put in the kitchen.
If your radio is still in semi-working condition, it might be possible to inject the audio signal from the Pi into the radio's existing amplifier. I almost certainly broke all kinds of audio design rules, but in my instance it sounds brilliant. I (briefly) got it working as an Airplay receiver, but for nearly two years it's been doing sterling stuff as a time-delayed BBC Radio 4 device.
(I would definitely recommend against blindly doing this with stuff that's directly mains-powered - I know that a lot of old radios, especially in the USA, did scary things with mains voltages. For a battery-powered transistor radio? Certainly worth a try.)
I should also point out that the Stratolaunch concept wouldn't have even been conceived had the original White Knight or the White Knight 2 never been developed.
The whole SpaceShip[n] concept is pretty similar to the X-15 anyway.
I experienced LabVIEW as part of standard software for a Lego Mindstorms kit. THE HORROR.
I've seen so many incredible things looking out of aircraft windows. One vaguely recent example - a crescent moon during a sunrise causing rapidly changing light on the clouds below. And then there's a wintry Iceland with geothermal power stations venting steam, and ice on Lake Michigan reflecting sunlight in abstract ways...
Not sitting next to a window is awful.
GREAT IDEA GUYS. Android has been 'coming' for over 2 years now and pretty much nothing changed when BroadCom open sourced
... A SMALL PART of the video driver code ... I hope no one holds their breath on this one ...
They open sourced a small part of the video drivers a few years ago - and more recently released full documentation and drivers for the VideoCore IV 3D whatsits. (I gather this version has all the OpenGL gubbins running on the ARM side rather than doing the message-passing stuff of the previous driver, but you can run Quake III at a decent framerate using these open drivers.)
Better yet, how about sending dead people?
Even more mass-efficient if you cremate them first...
The most unrealistic thing in space operas is the notion that the human crew could do anything in terms of gunnery or navigation better than a computer.
While definitely not using realistic physics in any way, I liked a space battle in one of Iain M. Banks' Culture novels. A horribly beweaponed Culture ship is describing to its human passenger precisely how it is outwitting and annihilating its alien foes, mentioning that there's a particularly good moment coming up - eventually admitting that it's merely running through a slow-motion replay, the real battle having been over in a matter of milliseconds.
The Planetary Society also has decent in-depth coverage of (usually unmanned) spaceflight.
For space tourism flights to the International Space Station, they're regarded as spaceflight participants rather than 'proper' astronauts (or cosmonauts).
Having seen quite how much training fully qualified astronauts and cosmonauts have to go through, I wouldn't be surprised if they become some vaguely protected terms in the not-so-far future...
Offensive Unit All Through With This Niceness And Negotiation Stuff is just a friendly neighborhood warship.
I've seen half-serious suggestions that, should Scotland gain independence and create its own navy, all its ships should be named after Culture spacecraft...
The parachute that brought the latest rover to Mars also disintegrated during testing. However NASA proceeded with the design knowing that the atmosphere on Mars is not nearly as dense as it is on Earth.
Note the colossal wind tunnel. This latest, flying saucer tested parachute is way larger than that Curiosity parachute - so they've figured out a whole new testing regime. One that helpfully more closely matches conditions in the Martian atmosphere, too.