Unfortunately, in my limited experience with engineering has made me a little bit.. skeptical? Jaded? So I posted this:
With all the uninhibited exuberance over the Mars rover, I feel pretty bad about my snarky, snarky comment. Because the fact that engineers landed the Mars Rover successfully, and in such an outstanding fashion, is totally amazing. And here's why:
|Tacoma Narrows Bridge: aka Galloping Gertie. The bridge's |
design did not take into account aerodynamic forces.
|The leaning tower leans because it |
was built without an adequate foundation.
|Ford pintos exploded due to a defective fuel system design.|
|The Mars Climate Orbiter hit the atmosphere at the|
wrong angle and burned up due to the fact that thruster
software by a NASA subcontractor used different units of measurement than NASA.
In all the above examples, just one little detail was the cause of a catastrophic failure in the final product. A lot of other things were done correctly (isn't that bridge pretty!).
As someone who has dabbled lightly into design and engineering, I have some experience with the devil in the details; Forget to install a new battery, and all the times on your recordings are wrong. One wing of your towing apparatus is at a slightly steeper angle than the other, which makes the whole thing twist out of the water like a hooked marlin. Your cable gets sliced by a piece of trash in the harbor and fries all your electronics (should have protected that cable better). You have your GPS, but not the cable. When you're designing something new, you have to think of every possible thing that could go wrong. I always assume that nothing is going to work, and am pleasantly surprised when it does. There are literally millions of things that could have gone wrong with the Mars Curiosity landing. I am sure that as they waited to hear back from the robot, all the people who worked on it were running through the lists of things that could have gone wrong.
|"Oh god I hope none of the parachute cords are tangled."|
Not only is the Mars Curiosity landing a marvel of engineering, but it is a marvel of logistics and organisation. It is a marvel of teamwork. Each person, from the guy who ordered to the parachute cord to the woman who designed the thrusters (I have no idea what gender these people were for real) did their job RIGHT, communicated with each other, and got it to work. That all these people managed to come together as a team is absolutely amazing. Good job, NASA peeps. You totally pulled this $#!^ off.
|Holy moses that's complicated.|