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ExoMars landing today!

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The lander hasn't been declared a loss yet but it's not looking promising. I agree that any finger pointing is premature. If it has failed I hope it's possible to work out what went wrong, it was meant to be a landing technology demonstrator for the ExoMars rover as much as anything. It is fitted with a non-rechargeable battery and only has power for 2-8 days, the orbiter is the more important part of the mission.

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My guess is that problems with European Mars landers could be down to lack of budget for suitably rigorous testing and lack of the experience that could be gathered by moon missions. Yep, Europe has never been to the moon and this was cancelled.

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So,  It's back to the drawing board again then.  This is so disappointing,
ESA badly needed this to succeed to permit them to forge ahead with the main project.  
Where this leaves them is anyone's guess.                                      
 I'm personally not sure they can even diagnose what didn't go right here,  but that being the case,  and they are left with guesswork,
 I doubt whether another attempt will take place.  Enormously costly this Space exploration business.   So Sad. 

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20 minutes ago, Stub Mandrel said:

My guess is that problems with European Mars landers could be down to lack of budget for suitably rigorous testing and lack of the experience that could be gathered by moon missions. Yep, Europe has never been to the moon and this was cancelled.

Having worked at the Stevenage site for a while there is more chance that it is simply that no-one listens or will learn from experience previously by themselves or from others. Possibly a contributor to this is the way that the European side is organised. Each country is to an extent in competition with the others, maybe claims are made that cannot be supported in reality. Maybe an approach is taken that is too complex or detailed (fancy). I am specifically thinking of one aspect of Beagle 2 here which somewhere like NASA would have simply thrown out at the preliminary stage as too high a probability of failure. And yes it/they failed.

Another somewhat strange approach is that of ESA, they want the knowledge and experience "spread" around. One somewaht odd aspect of this that I experienced is that a place that may have successfully performed a task previously (more then once as well) is specifically not given the work, it goes to a new completely inexperienced place. Of course the company that has previously done whatever task does not help the new one. They get no payment for support and have no incentive to aid them.

Another aspect is the huge amount of politics that occurs. The principle of "working togther" is just not present. I see already mention of "finger pointing".  NASA do not do finger pointing. Their principle is that something went wrong and we need to identify it and sort it. In general blame is not the dominent factor. I know of one project where all the countries involved could not be together. Two countries had a bit of a tradition of finger pointing and blame and simply they could not be present in the same room at the same time. Not the ideal way to do anything.

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4 minutes ago, ronin said:

Another somewhat strange approach is that of ESA, they want the knowledge and experience "spread" around. One somewaht odd aspect of this that I experienced is that a place that may have successfully performed a task previously (more then once as well) is specifically not given the work, it goes to a new completely inexperienced place. Of course the company that has previously done whatever task does not help the new one. They get no payment for support and have no incentive to aid them.

Oh yes. I have plenty of experience of charity funding policy that targets 'innovation' rather than what has been proven to work.

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Here's the latest news. It appears that the heatshield did its job and the parachute deployed, but that it was released earlier than expected and the rocket motors did not fire for as long as they should have (3-4 seconds rather than 30).

"Esa experts say it is impossible at this stage to fully interpret what happened until they can reconstruct the velocity profile of the probe.
Once they have done that, they can match it against known events and predict the altitudes at which those events occurred.
It should then be possible to gauge with some confidence whether Schiaparelli really did crash."

Although with such a large discrepancy in the thruster time I think it's pretty safe to assume it went splat, sadly.

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Deceleration trauma, sadly. All that way for this to happen.

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I think ESA is fudged. If this was a demonstrator mission in preparation for a future mission, they simply demonstrated failure. Nobody is gonna give them funding now.  I know NASA have messed up even more badly in the past, but Health and Safety and budgets are much more stringent these days.

 

Also why the obsession with Mars? We need to go back to Uranus or Neptune. They are the only proper planets that havent been explored in depth.

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I can't believe that happened, I mean - if something had physically broken then fair enough but this sounds like software issues with the parachute being released too early and the retros not firing correctly. Must have been the same guys that designed the Philae landing gear.. Get 99% of the way there and the wheels fall off :(

ChrisH

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Who  wrote The code that controlled the descent sequences. Perhaps reproducing it on the ground to see at what point in the sequence it went pear shaped.  It does seem like timing discrepancies are the main culprits.    Not sure If my suggestion has any significance, might be clutching straws. 

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10 minutes ago, Mak the Night said:

I'm guessing the onboard computer had a Vista moment.

Maybe it's running Win10 and it decided to run an update just at an inconvenient moment.

ChrisH

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I find quite unbelievable to read how a few members in this thread are so much discrediting the work of very talented people who do this with passion and effort. Who of us does actually understand or have a minimal clue about there is behind sending a probe out? or landing to another planet? How many missions did NASA fail throughout its journey? And the Russians? All these missions are extremely challenging and NO system / organisation / country / group is perfect. It is through iterations and iterations that things improve.

As Ronin correctly pointed out, one of the key aspects behind successful projects is cohesion. Now, do you realise that besides Europeans to criticise there are also British scientists who worked and collaborated within the ExoMars project? 

The likely failure of the lander is a very sad news NOT just for ESA, but for Science and Engineering worldwide. It highlights that complications can easily arise and that our procedures are still largely unreliable. Of course, this is cutting-edge research and technology! However, much more needs to be done and understanding this is also part of these missions.

I believe it is passion, effort and mutual respect are the key components for learning and achieving positive results. 

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6 hours ago, Stub Mandrel said:

Older members of SGL may remember the Strada:

poBE.jpg

<With apologies to Italian members of the forum, it's a very old joke...>

 

And regarding the above post, I find it quite offensive.

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10 minutes ago, Piero said:

 

And regarding the above post, I find it quite offensive.

As I have caused offence you have my apologies Piero; it is a parody of a mock advert that was itself a parody of a Fiat Strada advert in the 1980s. It The 'joke' would not work with a different nationality. I do have Italian ancestry (Labello) in my heady mix.

I'm quite happy for a moderator to remove if they feel that is appropriate.

I'm also quite aware of British involvement with ESA, although our contributions on the financial side may not have been particularly generous.

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I accept your apologies, but I would expect that the image you posted is removed (ref. SGL code of conduct - section:   Personal Attacks, Harassment and other abuse. [..] This includes "potentially" libellous comments). I really doubt SGL would appreciated a similar post if the word "Italians" were replaced with "English scientists"..

 

Anyway, my point was that this mission (exomars) is about science. As I think I can state that in this forum we all have a passion for astronomy and related science, this sad news for the supposed crash of the lander is something that affects all of us, not just ESA, disregarding nationalities. We and our future kids will all take advantage from these current discoveries and failures.

Edited by Piero
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Well, a clue may be in the rockets that fired for 3 sec instead of 30. Sounds like a misplaced decimal point or dropped zero in the code. Given how many lines of code involved it could quite possibly slipped through.

Remember when NASA mixed up imperial and metric sending their probe hurtling past Mars?

Mars has had a history of failed missions.

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I doubt it is something simple. Perhaps a build up of tolerances or error budget compounded by the compromises needed to 'build and design by committee'.

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NASA often outsourced assemblies to companies that had the real expertise so they where not trying to re invent the wheel each time, the downside is you have to get the procurement documents water tight.

Alan

P.S. surely testing the system would have told them if it worked.

Edited by Alien 13

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We were told about the mixed up between imperial and metric units in an university course in software engineering by our lecturer (who actually worked at ESA for about 10 years).  

I remember most people in our classroom laughed about it. Of course.. so silly.. how is it possible..! They stopped when that lecturer gave a clue of the amount of source code involved in a project like that! It's better that these things happen now without humans on board. If not ready a mission like Mars2020 can be postponed to let's say Mars2025! Possibly the name won't be as much attractive as the previous one.. This is still better than putting 5 people on board and let them crash because little knowledge has been collected.

Edited by Piero

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I personally feel sympathy for the ESA.  You can almost guarantee that everyone who worked on this project would have been very passionate about  this project on both a professional and personal level and to get this result must be hugely devastating for not only them but also the astronomy/scientific community as a whole.

We must also remember that these guys are not just a bunch of cowboys messing around in a garage somewhere-these where some of the best in the world, this is the same company that is responsible for Rosetta-one of the greatest achievement in space exploration ever.

but because they suffered what could be nothing more that bad luck, people are willing to hang them out to dry-Mars have proven itself to be notoriously difficult to land on, but every attempt we make brings us another step closer to discovering her secrets regardless of whether the mission is successful or a failure.

Edited by popeye85
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Mars has always been difficult though. I think it's because it's so small. Honestly, I had one hell of a job finding it with a 12.5mm ortho' and a borked RACI earlier this year. ;)

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1 hour ago, DaveS said:

Well, a clue may be in the rockets that fired for 3 sec instead of 30. Sounds like a misplaced decimal point or dropped zero in the code. Given how many lines of code involved it could quite possibly slipped through.

Remember when NASA mixed up imperial and metric sending their probe hurtling past Mars?

Mars has had a history of failed missions.

The guy on Ancient Aliens think it's Martians sabotaging the missions lol

Dave

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It's disappointing but no great surprise when space probes fail, each one is a prototype working in a hostile environment which is no recipe for reliability. Typically we make critical systems reliable either by over-engineering, redundancy or having a guy standing by to press the reset button - all difficult strategies to implement on a payload-limited probe. A proper investigation is needed at this point, I couldn't say if the loss was sheer bad luck, if a serious boo-boo was made somewhere or any shade in-between.

It's not the first time we've littered on Mars, let's hope no vast, cool and unsympathetic intelligences come calling to issue us a ticket.

1 hour ago, DaveS said:

Well, a clue may be in the rockets that fired for 3 sec instead of 30. Sounds like a misplaced decimal point or dropped zero in the code.

The question here is whether or not it was a commanded shutdown, hopefully the telemetry will indicate this.

Edited by Knight of Clear Skies

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