Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

 
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.


He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

 
Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.
 

Update on InSight’s mole: It is now underground

InSight's mole now completely buried
Click for full image.

An update today on the mole digging tool on the Mars lander InSight has revealed that the mole appears to finally be completely buried, though it remains unclear whether its most recent digging effort had succeeded in digging downward.

We found that during the first two rounds of hammering and during the first half of the third round of hammering, the scoop went further into the sand. Since the Mole was hidden under the scoop, the penetration of the probe itself could not be observed directly.

During the hammering, the flat tether running to the probe moved considerably, but these could only be clearly identified as forward movements during the hammering on 22 August. Overall, we could estimate from the movements of the scoop that the Mole moved at most one centimetre further into the ground. It was interesting to observe that during the second half of the round of 250 hammer blows on 19 September, the scoop did not go any further, probably because it encountered duricrust. This was certainly a desired outcome, as it allowed a second Free Mole Test to be conducted. In fact, the probe continued to move according to the movements of the tether, but it could not be clearly determined that these movements brought the Mole deeper into the ground.

The image shows InSight’s arm above the filled hole, with the mole’s flat tether coming out of the ground.

They are now going to fill the hole more, and then press down with the scoop during later drilling efforts to see if this allows the mole to proceed downward. If it fails I’m not sure if there is anything else they will be able to do to get the mole to work.

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7 comments

  • Hindsight, there could have been measurement markings on the tether.

  • pzatchok

    I make those type of “cables”.

    We could have easily placed them on if asked to.

    Plus that is exactly the wrong application for that material.

  • Lee Stevenson

    @pzatchok, it looks to me like the flat cables which connect the keyboard to the motherboard in my laptop?
    Surely a round cable , perhaps even with a teflon or similar smooth coating would be more suitable?… I’m only an armchair scientist… But that cable just looks wrong!

  • LocalFluff

    @Charles
    Yeah! Curiosity’s wheels leaving marks in the sand might seem a bit silly, but such things can come in handy. Not that there’s much more to do now other than to keep on hammering. Or perhaps dig up a high pile of sand ontop of it, hooping for some extra pressure?

  • pzatchok

    They might have went with one flat cable to reduce signal to noise ratio for the sensors but I can not see that being a real problem.

    And yes a standard round cable would have been better.

    They might have thought a round cable might have bound up on the reel and a flat one would not.

    But the insulation on those flat cables is very thin and the junction between the cable and circuit board is fragile.

  • Edward

    Lee Stevenson and pzatchok,
    They may have chosen a ribbon cable for greater flexibility than they could get with a round one.

  • pzatchok

    They are not that flexible.

    They bend great along one axis only.

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