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NASA SLS/Orion/Payloads

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This is way OT from SLS/Orion, since I don't think either will be terribly important to the project, regardless :wink:  

I'd expect the PRC to pursue the Moon before trying anything Mars related. Wake me after they land stuff on Mars a few times. Regardless, I don't see a 4% budget for NASA as ever happening again, short of a pending catastrophe (an inbound asteroid or something).

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22 minutes ago, Mitchz95 said:

Would a new space race with China not be motivation for another such anomaly?


There's not going to be a space race with China.

 

Edited by DerekL1963

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On 23/09/2017 at 6:18 AM, Ultimate Steve said:

:(

About two years ago I was in eight grade and found out that the SLS would first fly in 2018, towards the end of my sophomore year. Now, it's looking like this beast will not fly before I'm out of high school. I mean, I expected delays, but when these delays take up a significant fraction of your life...

Being a space geek is tough. Everything happens so slowly.

I know how you feel, time feels like it goes fast and slow at the same time.

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1 hour ago, Mitchz95 said:

Would a new space race with China not be motivation for another such anomaly?

I doubt it. China isn't an overt, self-declared existential threat, and the US society is no longer largely led by WWII veterans. An "interplanetary gap" would dominate the news for about eight hours, and then be thoroughly forgotten, with the Chinese landing ignored or minimized in the media.

A true space race requires a world war - or several.

Edited by DDE

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Or a pressing need for rare resources, no longer readily available on Earth. Which, sadly - i don't see happening anytime soon.

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3 hours ago, Scotius said:

Or a pressing need for rare resources, no longer readily available on Earth. Which, sadly - i don't see happening anytime soon.

Even then, you have to compete with very clever people looking for a crafty alternative, as well as people doing dumpster diving.

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New Glenn will be flying in that sort of timeframe...

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57 minutes ago, tater said:

New Glenn will be flying in that sort of timeframe...

And possibly mini-ITS too....

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SLS/Orion is going to fly, at least a few times. The final price per kg to DSG via this system might end up being very high, indeed after 10s of billions in up front cost, and possibly only a handful of launches, and the first 2 are basically throw aways.

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21 hours ago, Racescort666 said:

Comparing anything to a military budget is simply ridiculous. snip

Considering the military budget is itself ridiculous, yeah I can agree with that.  We aren't competing with anyone anymore and trying to stir up more Cold War-esque nonsense is just plain terrible. Spending hundreds of billions of dollars a year on combating an enemy that doesn't exist is just stupid. And even more importantly, the only militaries and thus nations in the world that would actually start a war with us are so grotesquely outmatched its not even funny, and thats without constant R&D on how to blow people up more efficiently.  

And mind you, to fund NASA for a serious Mars program you'd barely be making a dent in the militaries budget anyway, and I can guarantee you much of military wouldn't even miss the funding. It doesn't even want some of the stuff its been forced to buy: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/security/news/2009/07/09/6309/a-jet-even-the-military-doesnt-want/

And this "i'm your father so you better listen to me" nonsense about NASA and other space agencies owing their existence to their respectively militaries is also just that. Nonsense. Literally has no bearing over what should be getting funded and for how much. 

 

21 hours ago, tater said:

PR is 100% of a manned Mars mission. All science would be more cost-effectively done by robots. People is only for the PR, and secondarily because "exploration" has value for the "human spirit." That is something we might all agree on, but that doesn't pay the bills, the budget comes from PR, nothing else.

The defense budget will stay what it is, ~20% of Fed spending. The bulk will remain social programs (~2/3 of all Fed spending). This will also increase due to an aging population (Medicare explosion). NASA will be lucky to stay at ~0.5% of spending (0.01% of GDP).

If this forum is still here in 10 years, and the NASA budget has doubled in constant dollars, and the bulk is being spent on Mars, I'll paypal you enough money for a nice dinner out. I'm more likely to be hit by a meteor than to have to buy you dinner, frankly.

Wonder if SLS will still exist in 10 years? (just to stay on topic)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genesis_Rock

Show me the rover that could have located and returned that particular sample. Yes in time it was shown not to be that important of a sample, but even so. A robot suffers from diminishing gains as it gets more "efficient", and that goes for all factors. Complexity, cost, weight, effectiveness, etc etc.

You make it more complex, the R&D costs are gonna go up and it introduces more points of failure, wasting the whole project. You reduce the cost, you lose complexity and its ability to effectively do its job or you again introduce more points of failure. Weight is an easy one to reduce, but you can only go so far and still maintain the same returns unless we're inventing all new alloys, again, increasing the cost. Overall effectiveness is going to dictate the size and complexity of the robot. 

By the time a robot can be invented that can cover, analyze and thoroughly explore the same area in the same amount of time a human would be able to do so is right around when there won't be any point in sending a robot. Humans will either be dead or already been there and gone. And thats without considering the impossibility of said rover to return this sample and countless others that a manned mission would be able to do without a separate, dedicated sample return module that would further offset the costs you're supposedly saving by sending this robot. In-situ lab work can only go so far on what would be still be a small robot. We can't send Optimus Prime to Mars and call it cost effective. 

Curiosity and Opportunity have only covered as much an area of Mars in a matter of years as the Apollo astronauts were able to cover in a matter of days. And yes, time is a huge factor. Curiosity is an amazing rover and I delight myself in every picture its sent back to us, but the average person isn't going to care when it takes years for it to get somewhere interesting. A human can walk and cover the same distance and do much of the same science Curiosity has been doing in a single day.

Robots are only truly efficient when its unfeasible or pointless to send humans in the first place. We're barely getting to Mars as is, let robots explore Europa and Titan. Same with missions focused on maintaining orbit. We don't need humans mapping Venus. 

So no, robots can't do science more cost-effectively than humans. You might not spend a billion dollars to launch a robot to Mars, but what you do spend is returned by a limited amount of science taking years to come to fruition. The billion dollar crew spends the same amount of time on the surface and turns that billion dollar investment into that much more science, if not even more than what we could imagine. A robot isn't going to kick a rock and see something funny in the rock, just to find out Martian microbes have found a way to live inside the rock (for example). Its gonna roll right around it or over it and keep on steaming ahead to wherever its going.

And again, you don't know that. You only know the trends. We get Kennedy #2 and you'll be buying me that delicious dinner.  And again, is this likely? May be not. But that doesn't mean from now until the United States dissolves as a forgotten and failed state that it won't happen. 

 

And it should also be noted that I personally believe if we're going to get to Mars in the current eco-political climate, that its going to be an international effort supported by literally everything the world can offer. US private and public launch vehicles launching crew to likely Russian and/or Chinese built habitats serviced by automated European vehicles. And ultimately this is what I'd prefer to see. I've always been in favor of the idea of space exploration becoming a United Nations effort rather than that of a single nation. Regardless of how we feel about each other at home, if we're going to explore another planet for the first time we should be doing it together, and the United Nations taking on that mantle of a global space program would be a good way to do it.

 

Also, I do firmly believe in 10 years SLS is going to be around. Unless we're going to just scrap NASA as a whole (which is something public would care about and react very negatively against, even if it doesn't seem to care much about getting it the funding it needs) it'd be a huge waste of resources to mothball it. And at the very least, it would still fly several times before it was completely scrapped. They aren't just going to melt down all of this hardware they're building for scrap before they've even flown it. Despite the slow pace and delays, its still on track to fly at some point.  Even more importantly, no one at NASA is likely to support it unless a clique of people with a pet project get into positions of power and also manage to get the approval to redirect the entire organization to do something completely different.

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Robots are always more cost effective. You need to compare cost for cost. If Apollo lunar sample return was instead done by robots---with the exact same resources as Apollo---they would have collected more samples, since the return mass would have been at the very least what was actually returned, plus the mass of all the astronauts, and every single system required to keep them alive. They could have returned the same mass, from the same locations for less $. I should add that robots are more effective at this job every year. In 1969, robotic lunar return would have been more cost effective, but it would have been hard enough that humans were much closer in efficiency. Every year autonomous systems get better, and better. Intelligent systems can already out perform medical pathologists looking at slides of cancer biopsies, this is basically the same as geologists looking at cross sections. I bet you could have an autonomous robot find more interesting stuff than people could, frankly. If not right now, very soon after some training.

The same is true of Mars. For a fraction of the hundreds of billions of $$ for crewed flight, we could have sample return that would bring more samples back, and from more diverse and interesting locations (human landing sites are picked with safety paramount).

I'm a fan of manned spaceflight, but "science" is not the reason, because that would be advocating something that is 100% untrue, anyone who actually cares about the science would want robots---more bang for the buck. We'll go to Mars because it's cool. BTW, there is no economic reason, either.

You can rant all you like about military spending, but it's not going anywhere, bases and contractors are everywhere, and people only want them shut down in someone else's district. Like I said, if you are right in 10 years, I'll buy you dinner---if I'm alive, since I'm more likely to be hit by a meteor than you are to be right about the NASA budget changing.

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1 hour ago, tater said:

Robots are always more cost effective. You need to compare cost for cost. If Apollo lunar sample return was instead done by robots---with the exact same resources as Apollo---they would have collected more samples, since the return mass would have been at the very least what was actually returned, plus the mass of all the astronauts, and every single system required to keep them alive. They could have returned the same mass, from the same locations for less $. I should add that robots are more effective at this job every year. In 1969, robotic lunar return would have been more cost effective, but it would have been hard enough that humans were much closer in efficiency. Every year autonomous systems get better, and better. Intelligent systems can already out perform medical pathologists looking at slides of cancer biopsies, this is basically the same as geologists looking at cross sections. I bet you could have an autonomous robot find more interesting stuff than people could, frankly. If not right now, very soon after some training.

The same is true of Mars. For a fraction of the hundreds of billions of $$ for crewed flight, we could have sample return that would bring more samples back, and from more diverse and interesting locations (human landing sites are picked with safety paramount).

I'm a fan of manned spaceflight, but "science" is not the reason, because that would be advocating something that is 100% untrue, anyone who actually cares about the science would want robots---more bang for the buck. We'll go to Mars because it's cool. BTW, there is no economic reason, either.

You can rant all you like about military spending, but it's not going anywhere, bases and contractors are everywhere, and people only want them shut down in someone else's district. Like I said, if you are right in 10 years, I'll buy you dinner---if I'm alive, since I'm more likely to be hit by a meteor than you are to be right about the NASA budget changing.

Robots can't return the same amount of samples as a crewed mission can. Nor the same quality of samples for that matter. And even if they could, they'd take years to do it, because in order for their sample returns to be diverse and worth the opportunity cost to bother returning them, you'd need these robots to be capable of what a human geologist is going to be able to do as fast as they can do it. Otherwise you're wasting time and allowing your hardware to degrade all the while, making it less effective the longer you take.

You need to realize automated sample return isn't just some simple thing you can do. And more importantly, targeted sample return is massively complex and is going to take not only a robot far more advanced than anything we have currently, but also a spacecraft that lands with it thats capable of returning thousands of kg of samples over and over again. Because you can't just land it and let it sit for 20 years while the robot slowly gathers whatever samples its human controllers can pick out of a picture. And thats presuming the robot itself would even last that long. 

Again, show me the robot that could have gotten the Genesis rock back to us, not to mention the thousands of other samples Apollo collected that we're still learning from. In that same 20 year period a series of manned Mars landings could return so much more, and what you'd be getting in return would be that much better.  Robots are more bang for your buck? Pfft. Show me this supposed robot that can do more than a human can in the same situation without taking 20 years to do it.

And I see you're yet again putting up the cost. You do understand billions is nothing right? Yes if you had a billion dollars you wouldn't have to work again, but the government can lose a billion dollars and barely have to file paperwork over the loss. You need to get over the "cost" because cost is a non-issue for anyone who understands how much money the government actually deals in. 

And again, you just assume that nothing is going to change. That makes you a pessimist sir. I suggest you evaluate yourself before you become too deluded, though given your responses thats a forgone conclusion.

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1 hour ago, G'th said:

Robots can't return the same amount of samples as a crewed mission can. Nor the same quality of samples for that matter. And even if they could, they'd take years to do it, because in order for their sample returns to be diverse and worth the opportunity cost to bother returning them, you'd need these robots to be capable of what a human geologist is going to be able to do as fast as they can do it. Otherwise you're wasting time and allowing your hardware to degrade all the while, making it less effective the longer you take.

This is utter, complete nonsense.

Explain, in detail, how X tons to the lunar surface with crew and back to Earth magically carries more samples than the same X tons on the surface without the crew. Be specific. 

Only one geologist went to the Moon, BTW (he's the guy I took a couple lunar geology classes from). I liked Jack, I liked the fact that he'd go from a microscopic section of a lunar rock sample to "that's me by collecting the sample" pic, but probes could have easily collected more rocks given the same support (meaning $).

The only reason lunar sample return probes brought back far less mass of samples was that they were vastly cheaper than Apollo.

 

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You need to realize automated sample return isn't just some simple thing you can do. And more importantly, targeted sample return is massively complex and is going to take not only a robot far more advanced than anything we have currently, but also a spacecraft that lands with it thats capable of returning thousands of kg of samples over and over again. Because you can't just land it and let it sit for 20 years while the robot slowly gathers whatever samples its human controllers can pick out of a picture. And thats presuming the robot itself would even last that long. 

Compare identical costs. A human mission to Mars would land VASTLY more mass on the surface than any given "normal" robotic sample return mission. Make the robot mission the 400+ billion $ goal, and you get way more returned.

You cannot compare a planned robotic sample return designed to bring back a fe kg with a manned mission designed to return 100s. Design a robot mission to return the same mass of actual value (rocks), and it will certainly cost less. Allow the same cost, and it can shotgun more locations. 

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Again, show me the robot that could have gotten the Genesis rock back to us, not to mention the thousands of other samples Apollo collected that we're still learning from. In that same 20 year period a series of manned Mars landings could return so much more, and what you'd be getting in return would be that much better.  Robots are more bang for your buck? Pfft. Show me this supposed robot that can do more than a human can in the same situation without taking 20 years to do it.

We've not been on the Moon for almost 50 years. 20 years would be nothing, and the probes would be better every iteration. Give any two lunar geologists a fixed budget of XXX billion $, and the guy who uses robots will get more return, period.

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And I see you're yet again putting up the cost. You do understand billions is nothing right? Yes if you had a billion dollars you wouldn't have to work again, but the government can lose a billion dollars and barely have to file paperwork over the loss. You need to get over the "cost" because cost is a non-issue for anyone who understands how much money the government actually deals in. 

I know exactly what the government spends, and what it has spent. You talk like a kid about this, how long have you been paying attention to the way government works here? Cost is not a "non-issue," it's the only issue. NASA is a Federal jobs program for STEM, nothing more. That we get some awesome science and stuff out of it is icing on the cake, but that's all it is, and ever has been. The sooner you understand that, the sooner you'll understand why it works the way it works. NASA doesn't spend money, Congress does.

Even military spending is driven by jobs. Labor employed as service members, and many more employed as civilians on bases, or civilians in industries that provide their equipment---the same companies that make rockets and spacecraft, BTW. Why did Northrup just buy Orbital ATK? Space exploration? No, they are bidding for 90 billion in ICBMs, and want in-house solids.

 

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And again, you just assume that nothing is going to change. That makes you a pessimist sir. I suggest you evaluate yourself before you become too deluded, though given your responses thats a forgone conclusion.

No, it makes me a realist. It won't change because there is no plausible mechanism for it to change.

Only 25% of people polled can name all 3 branches of government. How many would stare blankly when asked about Cassini? 

Edited by tater

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Facts make you laugh? Whatever.

Answer how the same total mass delivered to the target surface and the returned to Earth carries a lower mass of samples if it doesn't have to have crew/life support mass than the one that does.

As long as the sample collection robot masses less than all the crew, and all their life support, and crew vehicles combined, then the robot mission without question returns more. 

In the case of the Moon, it can even drive pretty fast, and use high-res cameras given the short delay, and short range comms that allow high bandwidth.

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I'm still waiting to see this magical robot you think can do everything a human geologist can do in the same amount of time.

And mind you, you're also taking into account the fact that theres more being delivered to the surface in your robot scenario than you seem to be aware of. You can't just strap a box to a tiny rocket and expect to make it back to Earth intact. And thats without going into the sheer complexity of the at least two machines that are going to be required here. And it still doesn't address quality. So I again ask you to show me this magical robot that can beat out a human geologist in the same situation in the same amount of time.

If you can't show me this robot, then your argument is faulty. 

Edited by G'th

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3 hours ago, G'th said:

Robots can't return the same amount of samples as a crewed mission can.

They can return much more actuallly. A crewed mission is limited to a radius around its landing site. It also has rest periods and has to spend a lot of its uptime for technical work just to stay alive. The actual science payload of a manned mission would be less than 10% of the mass and mission time. For the same cost, you can send dozens of robotic missions that cover the entire surface.

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Nor the same quality of samples for that matter. And even if they could, they'd take years to do it, because in order for their sample returns to be diverse and worth the opportunity cost to bother returning them, you'd need these robots to be capable of what a human geologist is going to be able to do as fast as they can do it. Otherwise you're wasting time and allowing your hardware to degrade all the while, making it less effective the longer you take.

Time is not a factor. There is no rush. The Genesis rock was already there millions of years before Apollo, and it would still be there if it hadn't been picked up. It doesn't matter if we pick it up today or in 20 years. We are talking geology here.

There is no inherent reason why a robot can't go faster. The main reasons we design them to be slow are:

  • So that whole teams of scientists can actually scan every single centimeter around the robot, making it a far more thorough analysis than a human walking around, worrying about his life support, stability, rest periods, and not stumbling over that rock and cracking his helmet.
  • Because speed requires energy which requires mass which is expensive. If you gave a robotic mission the same mass budget as a manned mission, you could get a much faster and more complex robot.

 

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You need to realize automated sample return isn't just some simple thing you can do. And more importantly, targeted sample return is massively complex and is going to take not only a robot far more advanced than anything we have currently, but also a spacecraft that lands with it thats capable of returning thousands of kg of samples over and over again. Because you can't just land it and let it sit for 20 years while the robot slowly gathers whatever samples its human controllers can pick out of a picture. And thats presuming the robot itself would even last that long. 

Robotic technology is advancing at a much higher pace than spaceflight technology. There is much more corporate investment in AI than in aerospace R&D. We already have self-driving cars, robotic durgeons, so there's nothing stopping you (except cost) from having a semi autonomous robot with much better decision making that Curiosity or the MERs for example.

There is nothing complex about sample return. We've already done it. And returning thousands of kgs is pointless. What you need is variety.

20 years is pushing it for a single mission, but you can send 2 missions every 2 years  for 10 years and get much more variety of results than a single 20 year mission.

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Again, show me the robot that could have gotten the Genesis rock back to us, not to mention the thousands of other samples Apollo collected that we're still learning from.

We haven't done sample return because no budget has been allocated to it, but there is nothing technically impossible about it.

It could be done in less than 10 years, if the budget is allocated. Humans on Mars has always been 20 years away.

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In that same 20 year period a series of manned Mars landings could return so much more, and what you'd be getting in return would be that much better.  Robots are more bang for your buck? Pfft. Show me this supposed robot that can do more than a human can in the same situation without taking 20 years to do it.

A "series" of manned Mars landings would cost 100 times more than a series of robotic sample return missions. There is no inherent reason why the science would be better, but even if it was, would it be 100 times better ?

The only science that only sending humans into space can do, is to study how to send humans into space. That's certainly valid, but it's a bit circular.

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And I see you're yet again putting up the cost. You do understand billions is nothing right? Yes if you had a billion dollars you wouldn't have to work again, but the government can lose a billion dollars and barely have to file paperwork over the loss. You need to get over the "cost" because cost is a non-issue for anyone who understands how much money the government actually deals in. 

The cost is absolutely crucial for anyone who understands how the government actually works.

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And again, you just assume that nothing is going to change. That makes you a pessimist sir. I suggest you evaluate yourself before you become too deluded, though given your responses thats a forgone conclusion.

Call me a pessimist, I'll call you delusional if you think that the US Congress is going to abandon the military-industrial complex and lose hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Edited by Nibb31

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2 hours ago, G'th said:

I'm still waiting to see this magical robot you think can do everything a human geologist can do in the same amount of time.

Again, who cares about time? We are talking geology.

It's not magical. A robot is a tool that is used by a whole team of human geologists that can focus on a single area for years. They can actually do much better than a single human geologist who would focus on a wider area while dealing with staying alive and returning to his shelter ever few hours.

Robotic probes exist. Manned expeditions don't. So tell me which one is magical. Show me how many Mars science publications have been produced over the past 30 years based on unmanned expeditions vs manned expeditions.

 

Edited by Nibb31

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4 hours ago, Nibb31 said:

Again, who cares about time? We are talking geology.

It seems to me that you're treating geology as if it is the sum total of the reasons that we go, or that all of the reasons that we want to go move at the same pace as geologic time.

4 hours ago, Nibb31 said:

Show me how many Mars science publications have been produced over the past 30 years based on unmanned expeditions vs manned expeditions.

A fairer comparison might be the number of science publications produced per Apollo dollar versus the number of science publications produced per unmanned mission dollar.

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8 hours ago, G'th said:

I'm still waiting to see this magical robot you think can do everything a human geologist can do in the same amount of time.

It need not do it in the same few hours on the surface, it needs no life support. The time limit for Jack Schmitt was the consumables carried on the LEM. The robot doesn't need any. 

8 hours ago, G'th said:

And mind you, you're also taking into account the fact that theres more being delivered to the surface in your robot scenario than you seem to be aware of. You can't just strap a box to a tiny rocket and expect to make it back to Earth intact. And thats without going into the sheer complexity of the at least two machines that are going to be required here. And it still doesn't address quality. So I again ask you to show me this magical robot that can beat out a human geologist in the same situation in the same amount of time.

If you can't show me this robot, then your argument is faulty. 

Wrong, I don't have to show anything other than demonstrate that a mechanism could have less mass than the entire crew component (people, support, etc) you intend to land. For modern robotics and Mars, this is self-evidently true. The rovers they plan on sending for crew are alone vastly larger than any robotic rover required, and in fact would be capable of remote operation as part of the DRA.

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[edited] , ) it bring some interesting thoughts :wink: thks

Edited by WinkAllKerb''

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1 hour ago, Nikolai said:

It seems to me that you're treating geology as if it is the sum total of the reasons that we go, or that all of the reasons that we want to go move at the same pace as geologic time.

From a science perspective, it is on a place like Mars.

Note that I am all in for crewed missions, I just don't have to pretend it's that people do better sample collection. I want people for the "human spirit" reason I stated, which is a perfectly legitimate reason to send people.

 

1 hour ago, Nikolai said:

A fairer comparison might be the number of science publications produced per Apollo dollar versus the number of science publications produced per unmanned mission dollar.

All the rest of the NASA probes combined cost less than Apollo. So compare Apollo papers to all NASA probes combined times whatever factor gets the budget up there.

Ob SLS:

 

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2 minutes ago, tater said:

From a science perspective, it is on a place like Mars.

"From a science perspective"?  That's a weird modifier, and kind of debatable.  Perhaps from the point of those specific sciences that can be done in situ and that require maintaining a certain level of controlled experimentation and abstraction, but that's not the only kind of science that can be done.

4 minutes ago, tater said:

Note that I am all in for crewed missions, I just don't have to pretend it's that people do better sample collection.

That's okay.  It's not what I'm addressing, though.  If I thought that only geology needed to be done, or only things that take place on geological time scales, then yeah, I think a robots-only stance makes sense.

I'm also not opining that uncrewed missions are pointless, or even second-best.  They have an absolutely critical role to play.

7 minutes ago, tater said:

All the rest of the NASA probes combined cost less than Apollo.

I know that.  That's why I suggested that one should measure the return per dollar spent.

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15 minutes ago, Nikolai said:

"From a science perspective"?  That's a weird modifier, and kind of debatable.  Perhaps from the point of those specific sciences that can be done in situ and that require maintaining a certain level of controlled experimentation and abstraction, but that's not the only kind of science that can be done.

What science requires data from Mars? Planetary (Mars) science. That's it. Astronomy is not better done from Mars, nor is particle physics, or Earth biology. I suppose martian biology is a remote possibility, though even that might be geology (micro paleontology). Martian atmospheric science, like most planetary stuff tends to be lumped with geology. (autocorrect turned planetary to pantry?)

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That's okay.  It's not what I'm addressing, though.  If I thought that only geology needed to be done, or only things that take place on geological time scales, then yeah, I think a robots-only stance makes sense.

I'm also not opining that uncrewed missions are pointless, or even second-best.  They have an absolutely critical role to play.

My point is that they are far more effective per dollar spent. SLS at least can loft huge probes, so perhaps a robotic sample return is possible with SLS (ObSLS :wink: for thread).

As @Nibb31 said, if robotic Mars return was the new "Apollo" for NASA, it could be done far quicker than any crew mission.

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I know that.  That's why I suggested that one should measure the return per dollar spent.

I agree, I was just clarifying for people, since the Apollo budget was so vast, it might pay for all the robot missions times some multiple. Minus Apollo (in a magical world where that kind of money was spent for science, not PR/geopolitics) we could still have had moon rocks to study, but we might have already had sample return from other bodies in the solar system because Apollo was so much money.

Edited by tater

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