1. ratbastard says

    Great clip;nicely explained and fun to watch.

    These teams of scientist and their cohorts get little publicity for their great achievements, yet contestants on big brother jersey shore are household names. F’ed up.

  2. Brandon K. Thorp says


    Aha! Thought somebody would write that. I think you misread — I wrote “intra,” not “inter.” I realized six or seven months ago that even though “interstellar” is a common word, “intrastellar” isn’t, and that bugged me. So I vowed to use it every chance I got.

    Some scientists use the term “intrastellar” to refer to the space *inside* stars, but I think that’s bad usage. Intrastellar space should begin at exactly the spot where interstellar space ends, and interstellar space definitely ends either at the periphery of the solar wind or else at the Oort Cloud. By the quirky laws of English, having a space that’s somehow neither inter- nor intrastellar would render that space “a-stellar” or “non-stellar,” both of which sound wrong.

    Thanks for reading!
    – BKT

  3. Steve says

    That’s not what Curiosity is about and it’s not equipped for biological experiments. This is a geology mission to determine the possibility of life in the past, for example by investigating if certain stone formations were created by flowing water. There is what looks like an outflow of a river near its landing site and that will be the first destination.

    Mini Cooper would be correct. It’s 3 meters long and weighs 900 kg.

  4. StarGem says

    They can’t use the balloon bounce landing method because Curiosity weighs in at over 2,000 pounds, while the previous rovers weighed only a few pounds each. In other words, the balloon needed for Curiosity would have to be roughly one thousand times larger and would be impossible, by far, to fit into any of our present launch vehicles. Also, the weight of the balloon used with the previous rovers is several hundred times the weight of the rovers themselves, meaning that a balloon for Curiosity would weigh in at about 2,500 tons making launch impossible once again with any of our present launch vehicles.

  5. anon says

    “Intrastellar”? Okay, then.

    I fear this is all so complicated the chances of success are essentially nil. Set your expectations on very, very low.

    The airbag idea, which is brilliant and has worked well three times, lost out because NASA has competing teams of engineers that believe in different approaches to things. This was the chance for the sky-crane crew to prove their idea will work. It’s all completely political and essentially insane. Airbags would have worked well again, even if they needed to augment the approach. The extra size and weight of the larger shell, parachute, and sky-crane exceeds that of the folded up airbag they would have used instead. Also, keep in mind that a lot of design decisions are made when NASA gets funding votes in Congress because congressmen determine who the general contractors are going to be. This isn’t always for the best.

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