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Orbiter Successfully Enters Orbit 156

dylanduck writes "Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has slipped safely into orbit - unlike two of the last four orbiters NASA sent to Mars. Remember Mars Climate Orbiter and the mix up between metric and English units? MRO is going to send back 34 trillion bytes of data, more than all the previous missions put together." From the article: "The spacecraft will use a suite of six instruments, including the most powerful camera ever sent to another planet. This will image objects as small as 1-metre wide and should be able to snap pictures of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. The instruments will track the planet's weather, geology and mineralogy, and even probe about a kilometre beneath its surface to hunt for water."
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Orbiter Successfully Enters Orbit

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  • For more information (Score:5, Informative)

    by iced_773 ( 857608 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @09:22AM (#14897747)

    NPR has an area on their website covering not only this orbiter but past probes as well. Id=5257061 []
  • I watched the special about this on the discovery channel. Even though europe's orbiter images below the surface this one does it with more detail. This is basically being used to make more detailed full planet maps of the surface. Can't wait to see the first pictures from it.
    • Not bad for a bunch of smelly apes just down from the trees, eh?
      • Hey hey, big generalization there pal.

        I, for one, enjoy the relative safety and comfort of my fine tree. I am at a sufficient altitude to avoid the dangers that you "land-lubbers" deal with everyday. I'm shaded from... well, some of the harmful UV rays that you terra-firma-loving peeps drive your cars around on that spew out ozone-depleting compounds. I have fresh air to breathe, and best of all, those SEC officials will never find me out here!

        Of course there are some downsides

        • My solar-cell charge
    • Actually, the radar instrument on Mars Express (MARSIS) and the radar instrument on MRO (SHARAD) are made by the same group from the Italian Space Agency. The MARSIS radar is capable of detecting features further below the surface than SHARAD, but as you mentioned SHARAD will have a greater amount of detail.

      All in all this will be a fantastic mission -- it's been well thought out. For instance, HiRISE (the extremely high resolution camera, made by Ball Aerospace) is co-aligned on the spacecraft body with
  • Just read about it (Score:2, Interesting)

    by FST ( 766202 )
    I just read about this two hours ago. Apparently, the orbit insertion was a critical moment in the mission, as two of the last four orbiters NASA sent to Mars (mentioned in summary) did not survive the final approach. Mars Observer spacecraft fell silent on approach in 1993, probably because of a leak caused when its propulsion system was pressurised. And the Mars Climate Orbiter probably broke up in the planet's atmosphere in 1999 due to a mix up between metric and Imperial units (also mentioned in summary
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Thank you for summarizing the summary.
    • Not English (Score:4, Informative)

      by Gonoff ( 88518 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @10:08AM (#14897881)

      Pounds, miles, hogsheads etc are not "English" units. Please call them by their correct name "Imperial Units". This is not a joke name, it is what I was taught to call them when I was a child.

      I went to an English "Public School" and am now over 40. I only know my weight in kilogrammes. We went metric a long time ago!

      • by Decaff ( 42676 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @10:37AM (#14897972)
        I went to an English "Public School" and am now over 40. I only know my weight in kilogrammes. We went metric a long time ago!

        If only we had. There are miles to go yet before we have fully.....
      • I went to an English "Public School"

        But are we to take it you went to what we call a private school? Did you place "Public School" in quotes to show you meant private school, or, did you place "Public School" in quotes to show you meant public school as we mean public school, which is to say funded by the government and open to all?

        English and American, two people separated by a "common language"... can't remember who said that... Mencken?

        • I expect he meant private - he'd have said "State school" is he meant a government funded school - it's the standard term in England and one that's easy to understand despite "common languages".
        • According to, it was George Bernard Shaw:

          "England and America are two countries separated by a common language."
      • Re:Not English (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I only know my weight in kilogrammes. We went metric a long time ago!

        What's your weight in stone?
        How fast do you drive on the motorway?
        What size containers can you buy milk in?
        • Re:Not English (Score:3, Informative)

          by lisaparratt ( 752068 )
          Don't know - I know what it is in kilos, but I'm sure as hell not letting you geeks know what it is.
          Don't drive.
          1 litre, 2 litres, and 3 litres. /me waves from the UK.
        • What's your weight in stone?
          somewhere between 15 and 16

          How fast do you drive on the motorway?
          i don't drive myself but the speed limit is 70 mph and in reality lots of people go arround 80 mph

          What size containers can you buy milk in?
          doorstep deliveries still come in 1 pint glass bottles. Not sure what the supermarkets are doing.
      • And we use kph! and i never measure my weight in stones.
      • I went to an English "Public School" and am now over 40. I only know my weight in kilogrammes. We went metric a long time ago!

        Then you're pretty unusual - everyone I know who I tell my weight to in kilos just stares at me blankly. We have a long way to go before we go metric, everyone uses miles as has previously been mentioned, and most people still quote their weight in stones, which no one in the world uses apart from us. The funny thing is I accidently used stones to an American a while back, and h

      • Unfortunately, "English units" is an accepted term for a relatively consistent set of units including feet, BTUs etc. Any set of engineering steam tables comes in SI and "English" units. And most of the time they don't match imperial either (eg US gallons)
        • 12 inches in a foot
          3 feet in a yard
          22 yards in a chain
          8 chains in a furlong
          10 furlongs in a mile
          or 63360 inches in a mile

          1,000 millimetres in a metre
          1,000 metres in a kilometre

          Which sounds more consistent? - assuming I got the first section right anyway...

      • Re:Not English (Score:3, Informative)

        by Guppy06 ( 410832 )
        English? The English don't use them any more. Imperial? That went out in the 1950's (something to do with a guy named Ghandi).

        If you want to be clear and accurate in your adjectives, pounds, feet, miles and such are referred to as part of the "US customary system" or "USCS" (contrast with "SI"). You abandoned it, we're still using them (and helped make the improvements to them that you didn't adopt until 50 years later), you don't get to claim them as yours any more. :P
      • I must be older than you. They were called "Trade Federation Units" when they were taught to me.
      • Pounds, miles, hogsheads etc are not "English" units. Please call them by their correct name "Imperial Units". This is not a joke name, it is what I was taught to call them when I was a child.

        There's a difference in some cases. For instance, the English pint, as used by Americans, is significantly smaller than the Imperial pint, as used by the English. To be fair, if you had to drink their beer, would YOU want a larger glass?

        And then there are at least three different definitions of the mile to contend

  • Today a mysterious object began appearing in our sky. The population panicked after they heard rumors saying that the object came from the evil blue planet. To calm the population, K'Breel, speaker for the council of Elders, said:

    We are not to worry. Let us remember that our cloaking technology will keep
    us safe from being noticed by the inhabitants of the evil blue planet. Our scientists are studying the artificial satellite and have concluded that it is a very primitive technology. We are not to fear.

    Besides, our plan to destroy the evil blue planet have not been hindered in any way.

    When someone asked why this satellite couldn't be destroyed as the other two alien satellites that were sent by the blue planet inhabitants, K'Breel ordered the traitor's immediate execution. This was the first case of someone being executed for stripping the word "evil" from the phrase "evil blue planet", according to the new law.

    (My apologies to TripMaster Monkey)
  • trillion? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mtenhagen ( 450608 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @09:47AM (#14897814) Homepage
    "34 trillion bytes of data" who on earth (or mars) wrote this? Dont we have mega/giga/tera any more?

    For christ sake this is slashdot!
    • Re:trillion? (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No we don't. We're in a transition period. To be clear people have to use "trillion bytes" or "tebibyte". "terabyte" is currently ambiguous.
      • by NitsujTPU ( 19263 )
        Actually, I don't think that it's so much that it's actually ambiguous as it is that people are willing to nod to some imbiguity to keep their corporate funding sources out of hot water. Simple fact, a megabyte is 1024k, and a kilobyte is 1024 bytes, and a byte is 8 bits. Any other definition only allows you to pass of cheap hardware as if it were a more expensive counterpart.
        • Re:trillion? (Score:2, Insightful)

          by greylion3 ( 555507 )
          You mean, like 4.7 GB DVDs?
          Or 400 GB harddrives?
          Or (now obsolete) '1.44 MB' floppies? (which was actually 1.44x1000x1024 bytes).

          Sorry, but the (SI) metric system's prefixes for binary numbers isn't going to be changed, just because you think kilo should mean 1024.
          Use kibibyte(1024 bytes), mebibyte(1048576 bytes), gibibyte(1073741824 bytes) and so forth. Otherwise, you wouldn't know whether a kilohertz is 1000 or 1024 hertz, or if a kilobit is 1000 or 1024 bits - which one is your linespeed measured in?

          The m
    • 272 Trillion Bits of Data
    • by jandrese ( 485 ) <> on Saturday March 11, 2006 @10:27AM (#14897940) Homepage Journal
      Hey, at least it's a real unit. They could have reported it in Libraries of Congress or some other useless unit.
    • Maybe they wanted to avoid confusion about units this time?
      When it says gigabyte, who knows if it is 10^9 or 2^30 ???
  • Beagle 2 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mallardtheduck ( 760315 ) <[moc.liamtoh] [ta] [namkcorbtrauts]> on Saturday March 11, 2006 @09:49AM (#14897819)
    If it can spot Spirit and Opportunity, maybe it can find out what happned to Beagle 2?
  • by wildzer0 ( 889523 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @10:04AM (#14897858)
    Why is the new camera with a resolution of 1 metre better than the current camera on Mars Global Surveyor, which is able to deliver some images with a resolution of 50 cm? See here [] for example pictures with this resolution.
    • by JetJaguar ( 1539 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @10:27AM (#14897939)
      The msss specifications are a little misleading. They are sampling at 50 cm/pixel, but that isn't really the same as the resolving power. The actual resolving power is roughly twice the sampling rate, or 1 meter.

      HiRISE [], under the best of conditions, will do about 30 cm/pixel sampling, giving it a resolving power of just over half a meter. So it is indeed the most powerful camera in Mars Orbit.

      • HiRISE also doesn't need to use extra spacecraft fuel to achieve its 30 cm resolution; MOC has to slew the entire spacecraft against the velocity vector in order to stay on target. HiRISE gets its high resolution from superior optics (this is the largest telescope ever sent on an inter-planetary mission) and from superior camera design (14 CCDs, insanely fast electronics, etc.).
      • I wonder if they will photograph Cydonia in daylight with this camera, to set the dispute over the Mars face once and for all. One or two good photographs will do. But they most probably will not, for some unknown to me reason, fueling conspiracy theories and damaging NASA's credibility.

        I know that NASA has published photographs that prove the "face" of Mars is not a face at all, but the published material is heavily edited...
    • It will depend upon orbit distances and locations.
      From what I remember, the MGS orbits usually take it further away from the planet, its only on a number of very low sweeps that it can get close enough for the really high detailed images.
    • The new HiRISE camera has a maximum resolution of 30 cm - not 1 m. MGS on the other hand, has a resolution of 1 m. Howerver there's a trick you can do. The MGS camera, like many other spacecraft cameras, consists of a single sensor line. When you fly in orbit on mars, that field of view of that single sensor line sweeps over the terrain like a broom being pushed. This push-brooming technique with a single sensor line means you can get an image that is as wide as the sensor line, but as long as you want. You
  • by Kittie Rose ( 960365 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @10:05AM (#14897862) Homepage
    Man, that's a lot of data to be sending back. I just hope those funny little Green Men aren't going to be using up all the space bandwidth looking at porn from Uranus.
    • Porn? No. But torrents are a major issue, as they find the caterwauling of your Britteny Spears to be rather soothing. In fact, so much so that we have...

      Oh frack! Belt-azr-ses, I've blown my cover! If you're monitoring this secure communcations channel I request immediate evac!

    • by TrevorB ( 57780 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @03:04PM (#14899001) Homepage
      I had to actually check out what the MRO bandwidth actually *was*

      According to the MRO telecommunications page [], the max bandwidth from MRO is 6 mbps. That's faster than my Cable internet connection!

      Also, according to this page, our slashdot article summary is wrong. MRO is sending back 34 terabits, not 34 terabytes. Still that's a lot of (geology) porn. Looking forward to it. I wonder if the DSN guys will throttle their bandwidth?
  • "Well, ladies and gentlemen of the press, we have successfully received 34 trillion bytes of data from our orbiting probe around Mars. Thanks to the support of top compression and encoding experts from the Join Picture Experts Group, we think we've found a pair of breasts near the polar ice cap. This, of course, is not only a strong indication of life on Mars, but states that the alien adult entertainment industry is very popular."
  • by eck011219 ( 851729 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @10:21AM (#14897924)
    Well, shoot - I guess you can't hit Mars EVERY time you shoot something at it ... still, an 80% strike rate is pretty good for wartime.
  • Good job, leaving the troll in the submission.
  • This certainly must be the bottom story of the day, just like "Fireplace Was Source of Blaze"--headline, Mobile (Ala.) Register, March 6.
  • google mars (Score:1, Interesting)

    by demmer ( 623592 )
    it would be cool if they added the 1m data to google maps.
  • by rholliday ( 754515 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @10:46AM (#14898005) Homepage Journal
    Orbiter enters orbit.

    In other news Voyager has gone on a voyage, Mariner has ... marinated ... okay, the joke's falling apart now.
  • by expro ( 597113 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @10:47AM (#14898010)

    and even probe about a kilometre beneath its surface to hunt for water

    This was the fallback mission in case it deorbited by mistake.

  • Can someone with some knowledge of orbital cameras tell me why the resolution is only ~1 meter?

    I remember reading a Pop. Sci. article back in 1980 or so that showed declassified spy satellite images of someone in Central Park NY holding a book and you could read the title (approx. 1 inch high lettering). Is it not useful to have that much detail or what?
    • by odyaws ( 943577 )
      The pixel size (what most probably think of as resolution) is really 30-60 cm, enabling scientists to resolve features around a meter in size with a few pixels, so "1-meter resolution" is a little misleading. For more information on the camera see the mission web site [].

      Are you sure the pics in that Pop. Sci. article were from orbit? Many very impressive "spy satellite" pictures out there actually came from U-2 spy planes. I don't think we had that kind of resolving power from orbit 25 years ago.

    • Because they only have to loft those telescopes into earth orbit; it's a lot more expensive to send it to Mars. And people are willing to pay for images of the Earth (althtough we may never know exactly who they are, or how much). HiRISE is a pretty big instrument, for Mars.
    • by JetJaguar ( 1539 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @11:35AM (#14898193)
      To get resolution that high, you would need a much larger mirror. The resolution is inversely proportional to the diameter of the mirror. Even though MRO will be in the lowest orbit of all the current orbiters, it would still need a much larger (and heavier) mirror to be able to resolve sub-centimeter features on the surface. Such a requirement would have made MRO much bigger, much heavier, and much more difficult to send out to Mars. I don't have the figures handy, but I'm guessing that the HiRISE camera would probably need about a 2 meter mirror to even begin to come close to this resolution, which is about 4 times larger than what it has.

      Also, be wary of stuff that has been "declassified." The spy satellites can do some pretty amazing stuff to be sure, however I am a little skeptical of this claim. I've got a little experience with some of the people that do this work, and to be sure they can do some incredible stuff, but reading 1 inch tall lettering on the ground from space would be quite a stretch even now, and likely impossible back in 1980.

    • by mopomi ( 696055 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @11:38AM (#14898215)
      I'm entirely not convinced that was from a spy satellite (to read 1-inch high lettering, the targetting and stability problems alone would be quite difficult to solve for such high resolution; you'd have blurring (from spacecraft issues and the person holding the book), mis-targetting, etc.). Given that:

      All of the electronics have to be radiation hardened. This usually puts back the technology by a few years to even a decade compared with what one could afford without the rad-hardening.

      Given that, the actual resolution is 20-30 cm per pixel (depending on distance from the surface). That's 10 or so inches. However, you can't actually resolve/recognize anything that's only a pixel across. The canonical requirement is 3+ pixels to be sure you're detecting what you think you're detecting. So, the actual resolving power is about 1 meter.

      If the spacecraft (and camera) had been designed to orbit at a lower elevation, the resolution would have been higher, but as it is, it's pretty darn close to Mars' atmosphere and you don't want to orbit there. MRO's orbit is going to be about 320 km above the surface. Some satellites at Earth (I have no idea if they're "spy" sats) orbit at around 150 km above the surface--much closer. Many spy planes fly over the surface at only a few tens of km. With that and some amazing engineering to reduce smear, they could easily resolve very small objects.

      One of the major issues with HiRISE is going to be spacecraft jitter (the spacecraft shakes, other instruments move, etc.). This could effectively limit the resolution by a few factors if it's not resolved. There is a high stability mode in which nothing is allowed to move and the spacecraft holds itself still while HiRISE images very important targets (future landing sites, etc.), but that mode is resource intensive and excludes some instruments from doing certain activities. What HiRISE is trying to do is equivalent to trying to take a picture of the street through a glass-bottomed car at 125 about miles per hour.

      Another problem is context--sometimes the MOC images are uninterpretable because we don't know what's going on around them. With too-high resolution images, we'll just be looking at... well, noise, essentially. We can't really understand things without context to place them into. That's why we have a MOC-equivalent "context" imager bore-sighted with HiRISE.

      All-in-all, this is the most powerful telescope/camera sent to another planet.
      • Before I begin, let me say that I am a space idiot and an optics idiot. I'm a graphic designer, for God's sake, and I admit up-front that I know NOTHING about this.

        HOWEVER, I wonder out loud (and ask for all your input as I'd like to learn) if some of the resolution issues discussed here aren't VERY different between Earth and Mars based on the atmosphere. Earth has, as I understand it, a very heavy atmosphere, and Mars (according to a quick Google search) seems to have a thin, light atmosphere. But whether
        • Atmospheric conditions do matter. Those are, of course, taken in to account when designing the "best" instrument to send to a planet. We use imagers that are sensitive to wavelengths of light through which there is a relative "window" in the atmosphere. At times of dust storms on Mars, HiRISE won't be able to see the surface. We can't get around that; the basic physics of light extinction does us in there. We also sometimes have to worry about whether what we're seeing is a cloud or some other atmosphe
      • by Brett Buck ( 811747 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @02:46PM (#14898932)
        >I'm entirely not convinced that was from a spy
        >satellite (to read 1-inch high lettering, the
        >targetting and stability problems alone would be
        >quite difficult to solve for such high resolution;
        >you'd have blurring (from spacecraft issues and
        >the person holding the book), mis-targetting,
        >etc.). Given that:
        >All of the electronics have to be radiation
        >hardened. This usually puts back the technology by
        >a few years to even a decade compared with what
        >one could afford without the rad-hardening.

              I don't know why this keeps coming up. In applications like this, computing power *is not* and *has not* been a limiting factor on spacecraft performance. Period. "Faster computers" have provided nearly no improvements in performance in applications like this. In fact, if you are really serious about high-bandwidth control systems you are still better off with *analog* and the requisite technology for that has existed for 50 years with negligible improvements. In fact, most if not all of the sensors (like earth sensors, star trackers, and any variety of gyroscopes) still use analog at the lowest level.

                If anything, the advent of "better computers" and "better computer languages/programming practices" have probably *set the industry back* in terms of performance, and certainly set it back in the area of productivity. OO programming is probably great for some applications, but a control system implementation is essentially a procedural task. I've been in the business long enough to see the switch from analog/logic matrix hybrids, to procedural (done in FORTRAN, JOVIAL, and assembly) to OO. Some of the most efficient, clearly written, and maintainable code I've seen was implmented *using only IF statements and gotos*. Yes, you CAN write spaghetti code with FORTRAN, etc, and you CAN write clear and straightforward procedural code with C++. I've seen some absolutely incredible examples of both. But, if nothing else, in the good old days, you couldn't use the sort of stuff that you see in OO programming, because your GET and SET functions alone would suck up the entire memory and/or CPU. All that "better computers" have allowed is massive bloat, and associated explosion of questionably-applied OO programming. For this application the desired level of abstraction is the *bit*. But I feel another rant coming on...

              More computing power and digital flight control systems provide much more flexibility and more easily-implemented features - but they DO NOT necessarily have anything to do with improving pointing performance.

              In any case, the limiting factor in getting high-resolution has absolutely nothing to do with rad-hard technology dragging down performance. Sufficient controls performance can be acheived without computers at all, and was possible and achieved in the 60's

                Structural exitation (jitter, bending) IS a limiting factor on performance, and most of the items that need to point some device accurately are designed with this in mind. But it's always a tradeoff between rigidity/damping and weight.

                  In any case, the ultimate limiting factor on the resolution is the size of the objective (almost always a mirror), and there's only so much glass you can launch to Mars with a relatively inexpensive rocket. You want to double the resolution, come up with 10x the money, and I'm sure we can figure out a way to get it.

        • Hmm... Perhaps you have an axe to grind and misread my post. I never said rad-hardening drove down performance. It drives up cost. . . Re-reading my post shows me where you probably picked that up from.

          Of course the telescope matters. If you can't get a good telescope to Mars, you can't get decent resolution images. However, we COULD NOT collect the data coming through those optics with a MOC-equivalent computer/CCD. We had to have something faster and more reliable.

          HiRISE's computer drives the elect
      • If an Earth-orbiting satellite dipped as low as 150km, it would burn up/reenter. Mars has a much thinner atmosphere -- the same distances do not apply. ISS is generally in the 300-400km range and it loses on the order of 1km/week due to atmospheric drag.
    • From what I've read, the best resolution you can get from a reconnaissance satellite using adaptive optics and a main mirror about the size of the Hubble Space Telescope is about 2-3 inches, mostly due to the refractive effects of the Earth's atmosphere and the fact our KH-11/12 digital imaging reconnaissance satellites orbit at around 300 km (186 miles) altitude. This isn't like the older film-based reconnaissance satellites that at times dipped as low as 145 km altitude to get pictures.

      The limitations of
  • Why do Americans like to call Imperial units "English units"? It's like they're trying to pass the buck or something. Come on guys, the English stopped using Imperial units a long time ago. Own up to your own antiquated ways and call them "American units". After all, you're the only ones in the world using them now anyway.
    • Funniest thing is...our "Imperial" units are not even the same as English "Imperial" units, and there are a number of old English "Imperial" units that we don't really use at all. Add in the fact that technically, our units are actually defined around metric standards anyway, and we're a "dual" society with both metric and Imperial units in use....the idea that we only use Imperial being a stereotype.
    • by stienman ( 51024 )
      Where did they originate? England. There is no "imperialand." (hey, no wisecracks).

      For better or worse, they are units that the English came up with, used for quite some time, and we still use. If you don't like it, pour money into a metric USA campaign.

      In the end, it's just a system of measurement. It's no better or worse than any other system. It's not good, it's not evil, it just is. One may be able to make the case that in some circumstances (or even most circumstances) another system is ea
      • It's no better or worse than any other system.

        It's a hell of a lot worse than the metric or SI systems. Would that be pounds mass or pounds force you're talking about? What's with that Farenheit scale anyway? And don't get me started on pints, gallons and fluid ounces.

        Or pounds, shillings and pence. /me winces.

    • As soon as you start referring to so-called metric units as "SI" units, we'll start calling english units "imperial".

  • If it did not successfully they could not call it an orbiter now, could they? They'd call it a meteor - or "mass of molten junk". :D
  • Remember Mars Climate Orbiter and the mix up between metric and English units?
    While I was watching the MRO do its burns to enter orbit on NASA TV yesterday, one person was giving altitude readings in metric while another was giving them in English units. You'd think they would have learned by now!
    • I honestly thought it was a typo in the summary when I read, "metric and English" units and had a bit of a chuckle to myself. "hee hee, the mix up between metric and metric units". England are on the metric system too and I don't know anyone that refers to the Imperial system as the 'English' system.

      I just found this description on nasas site [] that has a nice summary of the state of the metric system:

      Most of the world uses the metric system. The only countries not on this system are Burma, Liberia, Muscat,
  • MRO is going to send back 34 trillion bytes of data, more than all the previous missions put together.

    Great! Here's BitTorrent's chance to prove that it's designed to speed up downloads and not just to trade movies! Only problem is the lack of peers, as Spirit and Opportunity's ISP is running packet filtering. (Clearly, this story should have been filed under the heading "Your Rights Online.")
  • The title's a little redundant, no? What would the title of this entry have been if it had failed?

    "Non-Orbiter Fails to Enter Orbit"
    "Parabolic Object Fails to Enter Orbit"

    "Orbiter Successful" would have been sufficient, no?
  • D'ya reckon that's why they call it "obiter"!?
  • "unlike two of the last four orbiters NASA sent to Mars"

    Another way of saying it would be "just like two of the last four orbiters NASA sent to Mars".

  • give it a rest (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PMuse ( 320639 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @10:59PM (#14900754)
    "Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has slipped safely into orbit - unlike two of the last four orbiters NASA sent to Mars. Remember Mars Climate Orbiter and the mix up between metric and English units?

    Don't you hate it when you make a mistake and even your friends never let you live it down? I mean, isn't it galling to do something right and all people want to talk about is the one you screwed up years ago?
    • Engineers learning to design bridges still see video of the Tacoma Narrows bridge failure. Good examples, lessons learned and all that.

      Plus don't underestimate the power of americans wanting to bash europeans over their mistakes and europeans who aren't familiar with space science wanting to bash americans over their antiquated measurement systems.
  • by .com b4 .storm ( 581701 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @11:39PM (#14900878)
    Thanks for the great headline, Zonk. In other news...
    • Iron Successfully Irons
    • Light Successfully Emits Light
    • Runner Successfully Runs
  • Sojourner (Score:3, Interesting)

    by John Marter ( 3227 ) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @11:54PM (#14900904) Homepage
    If it can spot Spirit and Opportunity, maybe it can also spot Sojourner. It would be cool to see if Sojourner made it back to Sagan Memorial Station and circled it.
  • Remember Mars Climate Orbiter and the mix up between metric and English units?
    Yes - I remember that bit of fiction quite clearly.

    What few remember is the true cause of the loss of the MCO, a low budget leading to insufficient analysis of the trajectory.

"Yeah, but you're taking the universe out of context."