35

Between them, Spirit and Opportunity spent the equivalent of 22 years performing geology fieldwork on Mars. In that time, they managed a scientific output comparable to what a single geology grad student could do in two weeks. Between them, Luna 16, Luna 20, Luna 24, and Chang'e 5 returned about 2.3 kg of material from four sampling sites. Neil Armstrong, ...


32

One of the most important reasons is that robots don't make great interview partners. A significant part of space missions is outreach and inspiring people. Another important part is giving people a different view of our planet. Astronauts over and over again describe the awesome feeling of being able to see how small and fragile our planet is, and the ...


20

I asked one of the copter's engineers, Matt Keennon, what the hole in that one leg's foot was for. He replied that it's only for stowage. ... because of the odd way the copter is held in place under the rover, with all sorts of mechanical constraints from the rover, that one leg could not be held down by a simple lever pressing on the leg strut, so instead ...


9

On Earth, before a mineral or petroleum resource is mined/extracted, the deposit is delineated and evaluated. Briefly, the process involves sending a some geologists and some drill rigs and their operators to a deposit and drilling holes through the deposit on a predetermined grid pattern. The drill cuttings or core (depending on the type of drill used) ...


7

Why is the physical presence of people in spacecraft still necessary? Because robotics and AI aren't so developed as to totally replace humans (who are very versatile). Having said that, there are lots of robotic space probes and landers, but not too many people in space.


6

Necessity Why is anything "necessary"? Who gets to define that? The biological imperative, if you will, is to survive, reproduce, and exploit every niche. Look all over the planet, and you will see that living systems have done exactly that, to a degree well beyond human engineering. If space is a new niche for humans, especially other planets, ...


5

Why is the physical presence of people in spacecraft still necessary? The physical presence of people on most spacecraft is not necessary, not even those rated to carry passengers. Having humans doing the exploring in person is mostly aspirational rather than actual; most space exploration has been done remotely, using probes of varying complexity and ...


4

Answer merged into one larger one.


4

Even if robots were still used for most of the fieldwork (which I think is likely even with a human presence because spacesuits, and the humans inside them, are fragile and expensive), having a human in a habitat nearby would be a great advantage for scientific research. Due to communication delays and often the lack of a stable radio connection, near real-...


3

Speed of light For Mars, at its closest point it takes 3m 22s to get a signal one way. We would need another 3m 22s to see what's happened. At its furthest we're looking at 24m each way. So good remote control is basically impossible. We don't have good AI yet, so we only have three options for craft we send out into space. They can be pretty dumb and just ...


3

I do recall reading about this very issue in a book about the Spirit & Opportunity rovers. Working on Mars: Voyages of Scientific Discovery with the Mars Exploration Rovers by William J. Clancey, paperback 2014 ISBN: 9780262526807 https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/working-mars https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qf8pm While not strictly "Robot Scientist&...


2

There is a serious advantage to being able to make complex decisions, perhaps even moral decisions, on board the spacecraft without any lag due to the speed of light. For the sake of argument, imagine a robotic emissary encounters life on the nearby Jovian moon Europa, which immediately offers some kind of complex moral test to determine whether they will ...


1

Apart from everything else that's been mentioned: many times, one of the questions that the mission is trying to answer is "how well can humans do X in space" for some value of X. It should be reasonably obvious that you need some humans in space in order to answer such questions. NASA's website currently lists some 249 such experiments (plus 40 &...


1

While robotics has made huge strides, robots have not even approached surpassing many of the basic general-purpose abilities of humans equipped with suitable tools, and the potential for robots to actually do that does not belong to the field of mechatronic engineering or controls theory , but to the wild dreams and nightmares of "futurists". (It ...


1

Could you interact with static objects in what would be an artificial virtual real time? Not unless the rovers move at micrometers per second, or slower. The Mars rovers are slow, but not that slow. The round trip time for information from a rover to travel to Earth and an response from Earth received y the rover is ranges from over 6 minutes to as long as ...


1

Every joke has its share of a joke. Perhaps the meaning of this joke is that Perseverance performs almost all the same functions as scientists in the first stage of research (information gathering). Or perhaps we still do not know something and we are being prepared for new developments that can really largely replace scientists at certain stages of research....


1

I would expect that if a satellite had no special design for in-orbit propellant transfer then the initial list of options would centre around the normal ground propellant supply interface, normally referred to as a "Fill and Drain Valve", FDV. Typical characteristics of interest are: often has an internal valve that can be operated by a "...


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