Monday, December 9, 2013

Next Generation Rovers Will Be Able to Think For Themselves:

It goes without saying that the Curiosity rover is one of the most sophisticated pieces of technology in human history. While it was in the developmental stages, researchers worked diligently in developing something that could withstand an environment much more harsh than anything experienced here on Earth. Not just within the confines of the Red Planet, but Curiosity also had to survive the year-long-trek through space. Then, it had to remain in perfect working order following what was affectionately dubbed the "seven minutes of terror." (The time in which JPL couldn"t monitor the rover"s progression through the Martian atmosphere, to its landing spot in Gale Crater) We won"t even get started with the many things that could spontaneously go wrong during this journey (micrometeorite impacts always pose a problem).

With that said; it has several issues that still need to be worked through. One of its biggest issues has nothing to do with the rover itself, but with the constrictions caused by the laws of physics. One of them - the universal speed limit - prevents JPL team members from being able to command and maneuver our robots in real time. Instead; they were constantly on a 40 minute loop (it takes 20 minutes for a signal traveling at light speed to make it from Earth to Mars. Meaning, it takes 40 minutes for one single correspondence to make a round trip)

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