1. Subscribersonhouse
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    23 Dec '15 17:14
    http://www.space.com/28360-nasa-mars-helicopter-drone.html

    The blades only spin 2400 rpm! 3 minutes of flight totally solar powered.
  2. Cape Town
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    23 Dec '15 18:111 edit
    Very interesting. It looks like it would be largely independent of the rover, using it only for communications. One would think that it would have to come back and recharge from the rover but they say its own solar panel is good enough and it can land elsewhere and never really needs to come back to the rover. If it is capable of communicating with satellites orbiting Mars then it could be completely independent and could explore at will.

    My proposal for the next Mars mission:
    Instead of sending a one tone rover, we send hundreds of very light drones. They may even be able to make their initial landing on Mars using much simplified mechanisms compared to Curiosity. They could then go off and explore in different directions. Not only do you have greater exploration but also greater redundancy. You could have a different science instrument on each one (for lighter instruments).
  3. Subscribersonhouse
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    25 Dec '15 03:161 edit
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Very interesting. It looks like it would be largely independent of the rover, using it only for communications. One would think that it would have to come back and recharge from the rover but they say its own solar panel is good enough and it can land elsewhere and never really needs to come back to the rover. If it is capable of communicating with satell ...[text shortened]... redundancy. You could have a different science instrument on each one (for lighter instruments).
    Nice idea but there would still be a need for the heavy artillery like the portable chemical lab. A large number of drones could certainly scout out a very large area quickly, including those intriguing black runs down those cliffs that could be brine flows. The word now is they think it is some kind of CO2 slush, but lasers could suss that out if they were right on top of one. Also could be there when one starts flowing, whatever the flow it.

    I took from that piece the solar cells would recharge it completely over some hours and give another 3 minutes of flying time.

    One thing about having a number of drones, the solar cells on curiosity and the others get dusty over a period of time and lose energy. A second or third drone could get double duty just blowing the dust off a compromised solar cell by just flying over the top of it and blowing the dust away.
  4. Cape Town
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    25 Dec '15 06:18
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    Nice idea but there would still be a need for the heavy artillery like the portable chemical lab.
    We don't actually need anything. Its all about what can be achieved for a given cost. I say stick with what is light enough to fit on drones. Some chemistry can be done with nothing more than a laser and camera, but then that might use rather too much power. Maybe skip a days flying when doing laser work.
  5. Subscribersonhouse
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    25 Dec '15 16:18
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    We don't actually need anything. Its all about what can be achieved for a given cost. I say stick with what is light enough to fit on drones. Some chemistry can be done with nothing more than a laser and camera, but then that might use rather too much power. Maybe skip a days flying when doing laser work.
    The thing is, the important stuff is invariably going to be buried in dust, even a cm of dust can ruin a great find if all you have is a drone and a camera. You can do tricks with spectroscopy but that still won't get you to the good stuff a few cm below the dust.
  6. Joined
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    31 Dec '15 23:591 edit
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Very interesting. It looks like it would be largely independent of the rover, using it only for communications. One would think that it would have to come back and recharge from the rover but they say its own solar panel is good enough and it can land elsewhere and never really needs to come back to the rover. If it is capable of communicating with satell ...[text shortened]... redundancy. You could have a different science instrument on each one (for lighter instruments).
    My proposal for the next Mars mission:
    Instead of sending a one tone rover, we send hundreds of very light drones. They may even be able to make their initial landing on Mars using much simplified mechanisms compared to Curiosity. They could then go off and explore in different directions. Not only do you have greater exploration but also greater redundancy. You could have a different science instrument on each one (for lighter instruments).


    This brought to mind Errol Morris' 1997 film "Fast, Cheap and Out of Control".

    From Wiki:
    Fast, Cheap & Out of Control is a 1997 film by documentary filmmaker Errol Morris. It profiles four subjects with extraordinary careers: Dave Hoover, who is a lion tamer; George Mendonça, who created topiaries at Green Animals Topiary Garden in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, including giraffes made out of boxwood; Ray Mendez, a hairless mole-rats expert; and Rodney Brooks, an M.I.T. scientist who has designed bug-like robots.

    Rodney Brooks, the robot scientist from MIT, wrote a paper in which he speculates that it might be more effective to send one hundred one-kilogram robots into space, instead of a single hundred-kilogram robot, replacing the need for reliability with chance and sheer numbers, as systems in nature have learned to do. The advantage would be that if a single robot malfunctioned or got destroyed, there would still be plenty of other working robots to do the exploring. The paper was fully titled "Fast, Cheap and Out of Control: A Robot Invasion of the Solar System", and published in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society in 1989.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fast,_Cheap_%26_Out_of_Control

    You can read the paper here:
    http://people.csail.mit.edu/brooks/papers/fast-cheap.pdf
  7. Subscribersonhouse
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    01 Jan '16 01:59
    Originally posted by ThinkOfOne
    [b]My proposal for the next Mars mission:
    Instead of sending a one tone rover, we send hundreds of very light drones. They may even be able to make their initial landing on Mars using much simplified mechanisms compared to Curiosity. They could then go off and explore in different directions. Not only do you have greater exploration but also greater red ...[text shortened]... [/quote]
    You can read the paper here:
    http://people.csail.mit.edu/brooks/papers/fast-cheap.pdf
    And this a few years later, 1995:

    http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=19960054089
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