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#26 2005-04-15 17:09:07

Fledi
Member
From: in my own little world (no,
Registered: 2003-09-14
Posts: 325

Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

I wonder what costs 50 million a year just for listening to the probes. I mean we have all sort of radio telescopes scanning the sky anyways.

The data could still be processed at a later time or a slower rate.


But it's you paying the taxes, I guess most politicians over here in Germany would have trouble giving just 50 bucks for a space probe anyway.

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#27 2005-04-15 19:30:42

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 18,322

Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

so far the only job cuts still moving forward is in aeronautics [planes] and i feel that aeronautics should come under the faa since they deal with the everyday safety of them. so then no one needs to lose there jobs only be reassigned.

but shuttle that is another problem all together that is not quite so cut and dry.
i have been though that outsourcing jobs cuts within the last few years so i can symphatize but only to a point.

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#28 2005-04-16 00:52:01

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,898
Website

Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

NASA evolved from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) which was founded to develop high risk, high pay-off technologies. The cowling for radial engines was developed by NACA, it significantly increased aircraft speed. There is still an obvious need for this. Many commercial observers have criticized NASA for designing spacecraft that use new technologies, but if no one puts any effort into developing them they won't get developed. The X-33 is a prime example; the initial design didn't use any new technologies, just state of the art everything, but many people criticized it anyway. Lockheed Martin did make a last minute change from the solid wall composite to hollow wall honeycomb structure, which failed, but the reaction from observers continues to demonstrate the inability to conduct necessary research. These principles might not be so obvious with aircraft because NASA's efforts with space travel get media coverage. NACA was created specifically because industry tends to work on very small, slow, incremental improvements that have demonstrated results before research begins and practically no risk of budget overrun or project failure. NACA was founded to hire doctoral level researchers to conduct that revolutionary research which was necessary to make the airline industry safe and economical. It succeeded marvellously. Today the outgrowth of that organization, NASA, continues to have that responsibility. Congress has mandated NASA to continue research into hypersonic aircraft but Sean O'Keefe chose to refuse that directive and redirect all funds into returning Shuttle to flight. If we are to ever achieve safe and economical access to space, we need hypersonic technology. I'm drifting back into space technology, the point is that NASA stands for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; the first A stands for Aeronautics. The FAA can create regulations, operate air traffic control, but they don't have the qualifications for primary aeronautic research.

I can think of one specific technology: after 9/11 I proposed on the mstechnology email list that the various autopilot systems be interlinked. They already have an autopilot to fly the plane from level flight over the departing airport to pre-approach at the arrival airport. Another system that's rarely used can automatically land the aircraft. Early versions switched to pilot control for the last 50 feet above ground, but later versions can fully land. Pilots never use it, they prefer to land themselves. A third that's also never used can automatically taxi the aircraft. The integration I proposed is a "panic button". The pilot would hit the big red panic button as soon as the cockpit is broken into. This button would lock-out all flight controls and set the autopilot to fly to the destination airport or nearest airport. The transponder would send a new squawk code to indicate the plane is hijacked and under autopilot. Once over the airport it would circle until air traffic control transmits a signal to land, complete with which runaway. The plane would land itself, and the airport would have an anti-terrorist squad waiting at the end of the runway. If the button is ever hit by accident it could only be released by a signal from air traffic control. This means aircraft cannot ever be hijacked again. After I mentioned this on the mstechnology email list, an ABC reporter described it on TV. I haven't heard of anyone working on it. I don't know anyone other than NASA who could develop that system.

I'm sure there are other aeronautical technologies I don't know about. The point is to redirect funding from Shuttle and construction of ISS to human exploration of the solar system. Don't hack and slash everything indiscriminately.

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#29 2005-04-16 06:28:31

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

Keeping in contact with a probe which is not giving new data

::blinks::

What?

Grypd, you seem to have missed some information.

Requote:

From NASA's own Voyager webpage:  For the past two years or so, Voyager 1 has detected phenomena unlike any encountered before in all its years of exploration.  These observations and what they may infer about the approach to the termination shock have been the subject of on-going scientific debates

Unless your definition of "new data" is drastically different.  :hm:

The Voyagers ARE transmitting new data.

Also -- 

Voyager, he says, is entering one of the most interesting scientific phases of its long life as its particle detectors approach the edge of the Solar System.

--Cindy

::EDIT::  Went to the NASA Voyager homepage, to fish out a bit more info:

So the debate continues while even more data are being returned and analyzed.

...it is certain that the spacecraft are in a new regime of space. The observed plasma wave oscillations and increased energetic particle activity may only be the long-awaited precursor to the termination shock.  If we have indeed encountered the termination shock, Voyager 1 would be the first spacecraft to enter the solar system's final frontier, a vast expanse where wind from the Sun blows hot against thin gas between the stars: interstellar space.

This is akin, IMO, to launching that Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission...then when we're a mere 10,000 miles from Sedna, axing the mission.  I don't mean to go off-topic here; I simply use this an an analogy.

Voyager homepage


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#30 2005-04-17 08:16:44

GCNRevenger
Member
From: Earth
Registered: 2003-10-14
Posts: 6,056

Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

Robert said: "NACA was created specifically because industry tends to work on very small, slow, incremental improvements that have demonstrated results before research begins and practically no risk of budget overrun or project failure."

Then its about time that private industry grows some spine and stops relying on government handouts to develop new technologies. Heck, have a Boeing/Lockheed/et al. consortia take over otherwise closed NASA research centers.

As far as hypersonic engines, there is a very good reason why we shouldn't spend a dime on them: materials science is a generation or two behind what is needed to make nonmilitary hypersonic propulsion applications. Scramjets just can't go fast enough yet, not without regenerative cooling, which is beyond our materials science at the moment. If the USAF wants regular ones for a bomber, fine, let them pay.

Cindy: Actually some of Voyagers' sensors, the ones best suited for studying the edge of the Sun's magnetic field, have failed due to old age and lack of power. Why do you think that NASA is bothering with IBEX? The quality of science that the Voyager probes could return about the edge of the solar system is pretty limited for the money, so it is indeed a fair a question if we should spend up to $742,000,000USD until they finally die.

They might even sail right through the Helosheath and never even see it... And the $750M we'd spend on operating them would probobly about cover the construction of Hubble-II or the IBEX mission and then some. Better probe, better science, less money... the only consequence is we have to wait, and to pay the sentimental price of saying goodbye to Voyager, which its originally designed mission has been long over.

Letting private entities operate them with a decomissioned radio telescope isn't a bad idea, but I question if anybody outside of NASA/ESA have the skills to do it. The allignment procedure between Voyager and Earth is pretty complicated if memory serves, and you wouldn't have Voyager engineers to operate the antique, barely-functioning probes.


"The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those that do not have it." - George Bernard Shaw

The glass is at 50% of capacity

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#31 2005-04-17 09:33:06

Grypd
Member
From: Scotland, Europe
Registered: 2004-06-07
Posts: 1,859

Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

Sorry Cindy, but the Voyager was a probe designed to look at planets and it does not really carry the science package to do a worthwhile job of investigating outside the solar system. Even the results we are getting back are likely to be scewed and as such not really able to be used by us.

And NASA does have very hard choices to make and cutting the listening to the Voyagers is unfortunatly one that has to be made. Im very sure that the Administrators that made this decision did not want to do it, but the money they need has to be found somewhere and they are cutting fat and in some cases meat everywhere to be able to get the Bush plan done.

To go to the Moon and then to Mars under the existing budget with the restrictions like the Shuttle and the ISS means that they have to be careful and make the painful decisions. And Cindy there will be more painful ones to come in the future as the cost overurns of the return of the Shuttle and the building of the ISS grow. Many people will find there jobs going and many projects will be cancelled to finance the new space infrastructure needed.


Chan eil mi aig a bheil ùidh ann an gleidheadh an status quo; Tha mi airson cur às e.

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#32 2005-04-17 15:22:28

hubricide
Member
Registered: 2004-07-26
Posts: 49

Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

A very popular author once said..

New ideas pass through three periods:
*It can't be done.
*It probably can be done, but its not worth doing.
*I knew it was a good idea all along !


So it is with continuing Voyager's mission.

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#33 2005-04-17 15:38:27

GCNRevenger
Member
From: Earth
Registered: 2003-10-14
Posts: 6,056

Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

Sure it can be done... the question is, should it be done.

If operating Voyager costs $53M/year and needs to go for another decade and a half, then it sure as heck better return some science thats worth it. $750M would go a long, long way for other projects.


"The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those that do not have it." - George Bernard Shaw

The glass is at 50% of capacity

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#34 2005-04-17 17:20:09

Grypd
Member
From: Scotland, Europe
Registered: 2004-06-07
Posts: 1,859

Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

Voyager is not finishing its mission it is simply we on Earth will not be listening. As stated before the money is needed so that we can get the new CEV the Moon, Mars plan and to get America back on track in space again.

NASA has already fought the battle to get money and it did get a limited rise in funds but if it wants to do what it is mandated to do and get the CEV and the Moon, Mars plan then it has to make cuts.

It still has to fly the Shuttle and complete the ISS, in this it has no choice. This costs a very good proportion of NASA funds. Now the funds have to be found and that means job cuts and yes non core program cuts. Voyager is certainly a non core program. NASA will have to make serious job cuts if it is to do what is needed. It is an easy cut, but soon it will have to start cuts that will cause real political problems for NASA. And some will be vetoed and then NASA will have to cut something less politically sensitive.


Chan eil mi aig a bheil ùidh ann an gleidheadh an status quo; Tha mi airson cur às e.

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#35 2005-04-17 18:41:16

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,898
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Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

According to the article that Cindy linked, cancelling Voyager will save $4 million per year, not $53 million. Considering NASA's budget is over $16 Billion, is it worth abandoning?

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#36 2005-04-17 21:30:02

GCNRevenger
Member
From: Earth
Registered: 2003-10-14
Posts: 6,056

Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

Ohhh, I thought the "Earth-Sun Division" was the Voyager probe people

...In which case that adds up to about $60M to operate them until fuel depletion, assuming no extra expenses. Better, but still too high I think if we're going to build a better probe to do the same thing but lots better a few years later.


"The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those that do not have it." - George Bernard Shaw

The glass is at 50% of capacity

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#37 2005-04-17 22:16:39

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,898
Website

Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

Plasma instruments were placed on Voyager specifically to measure the heliopause. Today they break the heliopause into pieces: terminal shock, bow shock, and between them the heliosheath. Voyager 1 is just now starting to encounter the phenomenon this instrument was specifically designed to measure, and Voyager 2 isn't there yet. I argue this isn't an "extended mission" but rather the final phase of its primary mission. Anyone who looses interest and stops listening just as the probe reaches its destination cannot be trusted with funding for another probe.

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#38 2005-04-18 06:10:48

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 18,322

Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

But to launch a new mission probe just to get the data, still will take inaddition to the cost of the new vehicle probe combination the continual cost per year of monitoring while it makes its way to the same location as this one 20 years later. So we save nothing and only increase the chance for failure due to untested hardware on this new probe. For who knows how long current part design will last in the deep of space.

Stick with what works but find a way to monitor it much cheaper than we currently are.

Edit from Nasa web pages:

The mission currently employs the equivalent of about 10 full-time people at JPL,

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#39 2005-04-18 07:22:02

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

GCN wrote -- Cindy: Actually some of Voyagers' sensors, the ones best suited for studying the edge of the Sun's magnetic field, have failed due to old age and lack of power. Why do you think that NASA is bothering with IBEX?

*Complementary mission (besides the fact that IBEX will be current technology state of the art, whereas Voyager was built decades ago).  Whatever info can be gained from the Voyagers might be of benefit to IBEX.  Why throw an opportunity away?  One mission builds on another.

I'm certainly not a scientist, of course.  There was another quote (Grypd?) I wanted to comment on but cannot find it now; maybe it's in a different thread.

What I do know is that plenty of scientists want the Voyager data return to continue.  IBEX hasn't been launched yet, won't be for a couple more years.  I could go into a bunch of "what if's" at this point...(the IBEX mission might fail for a variety of reasons yet unknown).

We know what we've got with the Voyagers, and they are still returning data; we can count on them. 

--Cindy

P.S.:  Just want to make clear that my thoughts on this are not nostalgia-based.


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#40 2005-04-18 18:04:39

hubricide
Member
Registered: 2004-07-26
Posts: 49

Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

I believe that even if the monitoring of all our currently far-flung probes is cancelled, someone somewhere will train a receiver on them and record the data.  $10 million a year seems steep for such a simple task, I must admit..

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#41 2005-04-18 20:03:31

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 18,322

Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

snippet from IBEX Mission:  2008 thread

Cost is approximately $134 million.
Nasa has given the go-ahead for the Interstellar Boundary Explorer - or Ibex - to be built.

It will be launched in 2008 from a Pegasus rocket, which will be dropped from the underbelly of a high-altitude aircraft.
IBEX-Lo is one of two sensors on the Small Explorer spacecraft that will measure neutral atoms created by the interaction of the solar wind with the interstellar medium - the gas, dust and radiation environment between the stars. Eberhard Mobius and Marty Lee of the UNH Space Science Center will work with NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX, mission along with engineers, scientists and UNH students to build critical parts of special cameras for the IBEX spacecraft.
Space plasma physics professors Eberhard Mobius and Martin Lee received the grant for their work in developing a machine that will allow scientists to view images from the solar system. The images will help to determine the classification of atoms and particles that fly toward the surface of the earth. The region of the solar system that will be targeted by the cameras falls somewhere in between the area known as deep space and near the surface of the earth. This region has never been fully looked at before, and the cameras should go a long way to solve that problem.

another thread with sparce data

Running on Empty, NASA launches with a wing and a prayer

wrap up even though it will study the region of distant space it how ever is only an imaging system and not a probe that will occupy the space it is studing.

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#42 2005-04-19 04:07:43

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

According to the article that Cindy linked, cancelling Voyager will save $4 million per year, not $53 million. Considering NASA's budget is over $16 Billion, is it worth abandoning?

*Yes, a little over $4 million per year for the continued funding of the Voyagers.  That's not much.

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#43 2005-04-19 04:14:28

oberth
Member
From: Germany
Registered: 2004-11-28
Posts: 10

Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

Griffin said yesterday any plans to cancel Voyager would be carefully reviewed. I think it is very unlikely they will be cancelled under his watch.

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#44 2005-04-19 05:30:46

Grypd
Member
From: Scotland, Europe
Registered: 2004-06-07
Posts: 1,859

Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

I think that Griffin has promised to review the decision but the economics will make him see he has no choice. He has stated he wants to bring forward work on the CEV but he still has to keep the shuttle and finish the ISS. He also stated his plans to review repair of the Hubble.

This all takes money and no way is he going to get more than the current NASA budget. So where is he to find the funds. He cannot cancel the Shuttle and ISS and it is this that the majority of the budget of NASA goes to in one way or the other.

Also with the ongoing mission of the Martian Rovers these are another source of funds to find. So Griffin can promise to review decisions but I doubt they will change.


Chan eil mi aig a bheil ùidh ann an gleidheadh an status quo; Tha mi airson cur às e.

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#45 2005-04-19 09:52:06

oberth
Member
From: Germany
Registered: 2004-11-28
Posts: 10

Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

The funding required to keep Voyager going is insignificant. It would be foolish to cancel the mission. Finding the money for Hubble will be a problem, I agree.

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#46 2005-04-20 12:12:42

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 18,322

Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

Executioner's Song: Deciding Which Space Missions Live or Die

Much ike we have discussed this article does give a few more points to this topic some which we do share.

There has been a scientific and public backlash at the thought of shutting down spacecraft, like the vintage Voyager missions, all for the want of a few millions dollars.
But Voyager is likely to be an early signal from a growing dilemma of finding cash to keep NASA spacecraft functioning beyond their initial work period.
There are plenty of examples sad

just bean counting and Searching for nickels everywhere

to accountants all funds are the same. No wonder the scientific community has so little confidence in the decision-making at NASA

Try turning off one of the Mars rovers today, Huntress said. "You’d get the same reaction that you’re getting from Hubble.

But what is the right balance of things for nasa to be doing and for how long do we do each thing for?

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#47 2005-04-20 12:16:42

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

But what is the right balance of things for nasa to be doing and for how long do we do each thing for?

*So long as it's returning good, solid science data at least 30% of the time, IMO.  Not that my opinion matters in this, because it doesn't of course; just commenting.

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#48 2005-04-20 15:30:26

Grypd
Member
From: Scotland, Europe
Registered: 2004-06-07
Posts: 1,859

Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

Still the funds have to be found somewhere and the extensions to the rovers on Mars are taking 3 million a month and this is money that has to come from somewhere.

I dont want the IBEX mission and the JWT telescope delayed or cancelled due to funding problems. And we need the CEV up and running too.


Chan eil mi aig a bheil ùidh ann an gleidheadh an status quo; Tha mi airson cur às e.

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#49 2005-04-20 18:01:36

hubricide
Member
Registered: 2004-07-26
Posts: 49

Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

As a certain popular science fiction writer once said:

New ideas pass through three periods:
*It can't be done.
*It probably can be done, but its not worth doing.
*I knew it was a good idea all along !


So too it is with the idea of keeping Voyager running.

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#50 2005-04-21 04:12:12

Grypd
Member
From: Scotland, Europe
Registered: 2004-06-07
Posts: 1,859

Re: Voyager - Interstellar mission

As a certain popular science fiction writer once said:

New ideas pass through three periods:
*It can't be done.
*It probably can be done, but its not worth doing.
*I knew it was a good idea all along !


So too it is with the idea of keeping Voyager running.

But not at the expense of the cancellation or delay of another probe we want to send.

There is only so much pie, when you cut a slice out and give it away you do not have it magically refill. This is NASA's budget and the Shuttle cost overuns and extensions to the Mars probes all cost money.

NASA was told to do the hard thing and cut programs and jobs and centers so that it would have the funds for the Bush vision. NASA was then told by the senate that it could not close the centers, this meant a lot of jobs where automatically saved too. One of the biggest concentration of jobs is the so called Shuttle army and until the ISS is finished these are safe too. This leaves programs and now NASA is doing what it has too. Many programs that are involved in Advanced flight are now no longer under NASA's budget. Many advanced programs in creating food that the future Martian settlers will grow has also stopped or due to soon. Education programes are also likely to be hit too.

Then comes the probes. Unlike Oppy and spirit which are getting extensions there are a lot of probes that they plan to do away with so that the funds can be moved elsewhere.
They will likely delay the launching of new probes so that the funds can be offset unless they can get more from the cuts they make. Then it comes to existing probes, Voyager was for NASA an easy target there is a probe that will be specifically sent soon to do the science on the border of the solar system, so why keep it. What worries me more is that probes like the Mars Global Surveyor are also likely being looked at as means of cutting costs.


Chan eil mi aig a bheil ùidh ann an gleidheadh an status quo; Tha mi airson cur às e.

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