(翻译)NASA 请求志愿者帮助寻找火星上的失灵探测太空船

原载:http://space.newscientist.com/ar … =news3_head_dn13884
标题:Volunteers asked to help find dead spacecraft on Mars / NASA 请求志愿者帮助寻找火星上的失灵探测太空船
作者:Hazel Muir
日期:2008 年 5 月 12 日
概要:简要介绍了 NASA 请求志愿者通过查看火星照片来帮助寻找火星上的失灵探测太空船的一些情况

Scientists have invited the public to trawl high-resolution images for signs of NASA’s Mars Polar Lander, which went silent on arrival at Mars in 1999. Finding the wreckage might explain why the mission failed.
科学家邀请公众通过排查高分辨率的图像来寻找 NASA 在 1999 年登陆火星后失灵的火星极区着陆器(Mars Polar Lander)。找出它的损坏之处或许可以帮助解释为什么这个任务会失败。

"If we can find the Mars Polar Lander and be convinced we understand what we’re looking at, it might provide some clues as to what went wrong," says Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona in Tucson, US. "There could be lessons there that are applicable to future landers."
“如果我们能够找到火星极区着陆器并且确信明白我们所看到图像的意义的话,我们也许就能得到一些任务失败原因的线索。”位于塔克森的亚利桑那大学的教授 Alfred McEwen 如是说。“或许我们能从中学到一些对未来的着陆探测器有用的教训。”

The Mars Polar Lander was supposed to study the Martian climate as well as soil and ice close to the planet’s south pole. But mission controllers lost contact with the probe when it landed. An investigation suggested it probably smashed onto the surface at high speed because the engines that should have slowed the craft’s descent shut down too quickly.

Scientists thought they saw the dead lander in images taken by the Mars Global Surveyor satellite in 2000, but these turned out to be a mirage. Now images taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter are offering another chance for the probe to be found.
在2000年火星环球探测者号(Mars Global Surveyor)拍到的照片上,科学家们看到了一个他们认为是失灵着陆器的物体,不过很快就被证实是错觉。现在火星探测轨道飞行器(Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter)拍的照片又给了科学家另一个寻找的机会。

Southern summer

In mid-2007, an instrument called the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) on the orbiter snapped sharp images of about half of the likely area where the failed lander touched down. "This was also the southern summer on Mars, so the site was well illuminated," says McEwen, who leads the HiRISE team.
在 2007 年中,在火星探测轨道飞行器上的高分辨率成像科学实验(High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment,简称 HiRISE)给着陆器可能出现的大约一半范围照了相。“那时候正值火星南部的夏天,所以景物照明很好。”同时也是 HiRISE 团队领导的 McEwen 说。

Now, HiRISE software developer Guy McArthur, also at the University of Arizona, has invited the public to scan these images for signs of the Mars Polar Lander. It’s a huge challenge because although there are only 18 images, each of them is enormous – typically 1.6 billion pixels.
现在,同在亚利桑那大学的 HiRISE 软件开发者 Guy McArthur 邀请公众通过查看这些图像来寻找火星极地着陆器的踪迹。这是一个巨大的挑战,虽然只有 18 幅图片,但每一张都是惊人地庞大——大概每张包含 16 亿个像素。

"If your computer screen is 1000 by 1000, that means you need 1600 screenshots to view one image," says McEwen. "On the HiRISE team, we haven’t put much effort into looking for this – we’re too busy with other things."
“如果您的电脑屏幕分辨率是 1000*1000,那么这意味着您需要把整张图片分成 1600 部分以便于在您的电脑上观看。”McEwen 说。“在 HiRISE 团队,因为我们还忙于别的事情所以也没办法作出什么像样的努力。”

The lander certainly won’t be easy to spot. "We just don’t know exactly what it will look like," says McEwen. He estimates that any spacecraft features that might be visible – the lander, its heat shield or the backshell with a parachute attached, if the parachute actually opened – will only be a few pixels across.
着陆器肯定不会容易被发现。“我们不知道它看起来会像是什么样子,”McEwen 说。他估计每种有可能出现的属于飞船的特征——着陆器和它的防热罩或者是带着一个降落伞(如果降落伞打开了的话)——在图片上也不过只有几个像素。

Years gone by

And the local landscape is troublesomely speckled with bright and dark features roughly the same size as the spacecraft components. "It’s a terrible place to look for things like this," says McEwen. "And years have gone by, so some dust will have settled – it may not stand out now."
当地的地形也给这项搜寻工作带来了不少的麻烦,因为它们在照片上的样子跟飞船组件差不多——都是黑白的小点。“对于找这样的东西来说这真是一个糟糕的地方,”McEwen 说。“年月飞逝,有一些尘埃已经沉积在着陆器上面了。它没有以前那么显眼了。”

However, keen volunteers can take some tips on what to look for from Tim Parker at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who has analysed HiRISE images of other spacecraft components on Mars.
然而在 NASA 的喷气推进实验室(Jet Propulsion Laboratory)负责分析 HiRISE 获得的照片上其它飞船图像的 Tim Parker 仍然有几个可以帮助志愿者了解应该寻找什么的建议。

NASA is hoping for a better outcome on 25 May, when its Phoenix Mars Lander is due to touch down on Mars. The lander uses similar technologies to the Mars Polar Lander, but its design has been thoroughly tested for any flaws.
NASA 希望在 5 月 25 号着陆的凤凰号火星着陆器(Phoenix Mars Lander)能够成功完成任务。这个着陆器和火星极地着陆器使用的技术很相似,但它经受过了严酷的测试。

The HiRISE instrument on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has already spotted spacecraft on the surface of Mars. These images show the rover Opportunity close to Mars’s Victoria Crater in 2006 (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)
在 NASA 的火星探测轨道飞行器上的 HiRISE 仪器已经在火星表面识别出了一些探测器。这些图像展示了机遇号探测器在维多利亚陨石坑附近流连的景象。





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