Buzz Aldrin A-OK After Altitude Sickness on Antarctica. Curiosity Drill Not A-OK on Mars.

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12-06-2016

(Photo:

English: Astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the surface and the Lunar Module (LM) "Eagle" during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA). Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander, took this photograph with a 70mm lunar surface camera. While astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the Lunar Module (LM) "Eagle" to explore the Sea of Tranquility region of the Moon, astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) "Columbia" in lunar orbit.)

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Buzz Aldrin A-OK After Altitude Sickness on Antarctica. Curiosity Drill Not A-OK on Mars.

Bob Zimmerman, BehindtheBlack.com

Altitude sickness caused Buzz Aldrin’s Antarctic health problems

December 4, 2016 at 2:59 pm Robert Zimmerman

According to Buzz Aldrin his health problems in Antarctica last week was caused by altitude sickness.

Because of the thick ice that blankets Antarctica, the South Pole sits at an elevation of 2,835 meters (9,300 feet). Aldrin said in a statement he still has some congestion in his lungs and so has been advised to rest in New Zealand until it clears up and to avoid the long flight back to the U.S. for now. Aldrin, his son Andrew and manager Christina Korp had been visiting Antarctica as tourists on a trip organized by the White Desert tour company. They left last Tuesday from South Africa. “South Pole here I come!” Aldrin wrote on Twitter at the time.

He said the trip began well, and that he’d been planning to spend time with scientists who were studying what it would be like to live on Mars because the conditions in Antarctica were similar. “I had been having a great time with the group at White Desert’s camp before we ventured further south,” he said. “I started to feel a bit short of breath so the staff decided to check my vitals. After some examination they noticed congestion in my lungs and that my oxygen levels were low, which indicated symptoms of altitude sickness.” Aldrin said he was put on the next flight, a ski-equipped LC-130 cargo plane that took him to McMurdo Station, a U.S. research center on the Antarctic coast. “Once I was at sea level I began to feel much better,” he said.

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The recent failure by Curiosity to drill has caused engineers to stop the rover in its tracks while they analyze the cause of the problem.

The rover team learned Dec. 1 that Curiosity did not complete the commands for drilling. The rover detected a fault in an early step in which the “drill feed” mechanism did not extend the drill to touch the rock target with the bit. “We are in the process of defining a set of diagnostic tests to carefully assess the drill feed mechanism. We are using our test rover here on Earth to try out these tests before we run them on Mars,” Curiosity Deputy Project Manager Steven Lee, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said Monday. “To be cautious, until we run the tests on Curiosity, we want to restrict any dynamic changes that could affect the diagnosis. That means not moving the arm and not driving, which could shake it.”

Two among the set of possible causes being assessed are that a brake on the drill feed mechanism did not disengage fully or that an electronic encoder for the mechanism’s motor did not function as expected. Lee said that workarounds may exist for both of those scenarios, but the first step is to identify why the motor did not operate properly last week.

Though they do not say so, the problem is almost certainly related to a fundamental design flaw in the drill’s design that causes intermittent short-circuits when they use it, and has the possibility of shorting out the entire rover if they are not careful.

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Dec 07, 2016, 06:41 AM
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