I am sure NASA can fund a high speed camera for MRO... or do we need to crowdfund that one as well...  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfDoQwIAaXg
"If HiRISE took the image one second before or one second after, we probably would be looking at an empty Martian landscape," said Sarah Milkovich, HiRISE investigation scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "When you consider that we have been working on this sequence since March and had to upload commands to the spacecraft about 72 hours prior to the image being taken, you begin to realize how challenging this picture was to obtain."
The technology and brain power to achieve this picture, the landing, engineering and the science to come is so mind blowing to me that I almost feel drained!
Such a massive amount of awesomeness.
The HiRISE news release now contains a (currently broken) link to a 540MB non-map projected "descent long view." I imagine this is the complete scan that HiRISE took of the image, and that there is distortion due to the CCD layout in the satellite (hence non-map projected). But that's purely a guess.
Descent long view (Note: this file is over 540MB. It is non-map projected
but rotated so that north is approximately up. This file is not annotated,
but MSL is in the mid-to-lower right-hand side. The CCDs do not match well at
their edges due to the unique image geometry; geometrically-corrected images
would be available in a few days.)
2: http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu/images/2012/details/cut/ESP_02... (WARNING: 540MB TIFF, but link is broken at time of posting)
There is a seam just to the left of the package, which is why NASA presented the image with the object off-center, and why I cropped it that way as well.
(and TSA is just a tiny part of "homeland security (theater)" )
But I agree with you. If only we could convince the five top military spenders to cut back just a little, we'd be terraforming Mars and Venus by the end of the week. ;-)
I know you mean USA. I wonder if the USA would force my country (Australia) to follow suit to? Hard to imagine.
Also isn't China meant to be growing at a unstable rate and is now ready for its own property market collapse. And isn't China the only real example of a working centrally planned economy?
I'm just really interested how you are so sure we are heading towards a planned economy as a system.
Did NASA feed it the correct coordinates beforehand, or it had to somehow autonomously acquire the rover? I suspect the later is possible, as there might be radio contact available in that stage of the reentry, but I really have no idea on how it was actually accomplished.
The one in Curiosity seems to have 5kg of Plutonium 238. I don't know what kind of containment it has to protect it during launch, but I assume it is fairly substantial. Nuclear batteries are not something NASA is new to, they have used them many times before, including in the Voyager probes.
Interestingly, nuclear reactors have been put into space too, by both the US and the Soviets. There have been incidents but nothing that I would really call a disaster. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RORSAT
Radioactive decay is a small energy source compared to fission. Look at the binding energies : the energy accessible by fissioning heavy elements is about 200 MeV -- 1 MeV per nucleon. Radioactive decays are two orders of magnitude less, or smaller.
Pu-238 is one of the nicest ones because it is "clean" -- emitting only alpha radiation, which is easy to shield. You can transmute on the order of 1 atom of it per 100 fission events . A fission event is 200 MeV; a Pu-238 decay is 5.6 MeV. So at steady state, you can support less than 1/3,000th as much Pu-238 power as you can fission power. If you have a Pu-238 source, you also have a vastly larger nuclear fission power source, so why not just use that?
More broadly, it's not a likely idea on physics, even if you accept all radioisotopes (difficult-to-shield gamma emitters) and not just "nice" ones. The high-Z radioactive decay chains end quickly at the element lead , so only release a fraction of the energy that is accessible by fission. (Look back to the binding energy curve ). And many of these decays are unusably, geologically slow. The naturally-occurring radioisotopes have half lives of >10^8 years (otherwise they wouldn't exist anymore -- they were created in ancient history in supernovae). And trying to transmute them doesn't improve much -- i.e. in a fission reactor, the most common  high-Z product is Pu-239 (half life >10^4 years), whose next decay is to U-235 (half life >10^8 years). Others are similar. So I don't see any way forwards.
 Through the several processes which create Np-237 from uranium -- a relatively rare process . Np-237 can be isolated and transmuted to Pu-238 separately through neutron irradiation
 Small table here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minor_actinide
However, it is likely that a "home" device could be made simpler/less expensive.
People don't like things called 'nuclear'.
Those are 10 watt Sr90 RTGs, sitting around. The used to use them for lighthouses.
It's theoretically feasible, but the cost would be, ah, prohibitive.
However plutonium would not be easy to put in every house since you have to make it in nuclear reactors. You get about half a kilowatt per kilogram of it, I don't think production of it could scale that high.
Strontium is naturally occurring and relatively common. Sr 90 is a trace isotope though. Off the top of my head I would suspect you would be facing similar challenges that separation of Uranium isotopes face.
* Radioisotope power sources (like this, Cassini, New Horizons, etc.)
* Critical fission reactors (popular in the early space race before solar PV, still the best option for high-power deep-space missions like (cancelled) Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter/Project Prometheus)
* Nuclear pulse propulsion -- setting off nuclear weapons, riding the shockwaves (e.g. Project Orion)
Pulse prolusion is banned, quite pointlessly, under the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963. (Note it extends not only to atmospheric explosions, but ones in deep space). The others aren't. Contained, critical nuclear reactions are legal -- NASA chose a nuclear reactor a few years ago for the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter, before they cancelled it. And no one cares about radioisotope sources except confused hippies.
Obscure history: a running Soviet nuclear reactor crashed from space into the Canadian wilderness in 1977. In case anyone's curious of the consequences.
More info here: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1997/09/cassini-controve...