YouTube: https://youtube.com/watch?v=XARgFiLP0oc
Previous: How to Study String Theory Using X-Rays | SciShow News
Next: Old Voyager Data Has New Secrets About Uranus | SciShow News

Categories

Statistics

View count:2,320
Likes:228
Dislikes:6
Comments:33
Duration:05:21
Uploaded:2020-03-31
Last sync:2020-03-31 16:45
Earlier this year, scientists pitched a mission to bring "the cloud" to Mars. While this proposal may seem expensive and risky, it's a legitimate idea that could fundamentally change how we plan space missions!

Hosted by: Reid Reimers

SciShow has a spinoff podcast! It's called SciShow Tangents. Check it out at http://www.scishowtangents.org
----------
Support SciShow by becoming a patron on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/scishow
----------
Huge thanks go to the following Patreon supporters for helping us keep SciShow free for everyone forever:

Kevin Bealer, KatieMarie Magnone, D.A. Noe, Charles Southerland, Eric Jensen, Christopher R Boucher, Alex Hackman, Matt Curls, Adam Brainard, Scott Satovsky Jr, Sam Buck, Avi Yashchin, Ron Kakar, Chris Peters, Kevin Carpentier, Patrick D. Ashmore, Piya Shedden, Sam Lutfi, charles george, Greg
----------
Like SciShow? Want to help support us, and also get things to put on your walls, cover your torso and hold your liquids? Check out our awesome products over at DFTBA Records: http://dftba.com/scishow
----------
Looking for SciShow elsewhere on the internet?
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/scishow
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/scishow
Tumblr: http://scishow.tumblr.com
Instagram: http://instagram.com/thescishow
----------
Sources:
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0094576519314249
https://www.cloudflare.com/learning/cloud/what-is-the-cloud/
https://www.space.com/24701-how-long-does-it-take-to-get-to-mars.html
https://mars.nasa.gov/mro/mission/communications/
https://mars.nasa.gov/mars-exploration/missions/historical-log/
https://www.wired.com/2012/08/martian-computing-is-light-on-ram-heavy-on-radiation-shielding/
https://spectrum.ieee.org/aerospace/space-flight/did-bad-memory-chips-down-russias-mars-probe
https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/JB095iB09p14497
https://www.theverge.com/2017/5/28/15706756/lunar-reconnaissance-orbiter-nasa-micrometeoroid-moon
https://mars.nasa.gov/mer/mission/rover/temperature/
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040520062226.htm
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kLvNH28Tgc
https://hub.jhu.edu/2015/07/17/new-horizons-data-transmission/
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0019103572901455
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/09/180927105612.htm
https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/1571198
https://www.aaai.org/ojs/index.php/aimagazine/article/view/2556
https://nerdfighteria.info/v/JrgTJgIMZqc/
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0094576515004774
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/B:AURO.0000025790.37415.83
https://www.wired.com/2017/04/marsupial-robots-aint-cuddly-totally-brilliant/
https://www.astrobio.net/robotics-a-i/swarms-of-nano-nauts/
https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/5231068
https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/11662

Image Sources:
https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/futuristic-data-center-server-room-gm1180684429-330859323
https://www.videoblocks.com/video/concept-animation-cloud-server-flexibility-sucure-future-technnology-hkypw61
https://www.istockphoto.com/vector/it-engineers-team-workers-character-and-data-center-concept-vector-flat-graphic-gm1152003787-312385557
https://www.istockphoto.com/vector/space-poster-gm1162370062-318806222
https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/radio-telescope-and-milky-way-galaxy-gm471451629-21191711
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f7/ISS-31_SpaceX_Dragon_commercial_cargo_craft_approaches_the_ISS_-_crop.jpg/2048px-ISS-31_SpaceX_Dragon_commercial_cargo_craft_approaches_the_ISS_-_crop.jpg
https://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA03479
https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/12084
https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/images/activities/cassini_satellite_diagram.jpghttps://www.videoblocks.com/video/wide-movement-shot-of-a-long-hallway-full-server-racks-in-a-modern-data-center-sxoezrknxjnp7ua3q
https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/mars-mission-gm514647210-88213417
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:EFF_photograph_of_NSA%27s_Utah_Data_Center.jpg
https://www.videoblocks.com/video/big-data-cloud-computing-internet-of-things-iot-ai-network-technology-bqziwv0nvjrzj6x5b
https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/lines-of-cpu-micro-controllers-gm481084756-69254487
https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/sunrise-in-mars-gm490343848-75156119
{♫Intro♫}.

In March 2020, a pair of scientists in North Dakota proposed putting the cloud on Mars. You know, “the cloud,” that nebulous computer… thing.

That stores… stuff. But while it might sound like just a string of buzzwords, it’s a legitimate idea -- one that could fundamentally change how we plan space missions. Because we use the cloud here on Earth for lots of things: file storage, computations, whatever.

And probes won’t need to do all that on their own if the cloud is already there for them. “The cloud” is really just a fancy way to say “someone else’s computer”. “Putting the cloud on Mars” is therefore the fancy version of “putting a bunch of computers on Mars.” It wouldn’t be out there for us to use, but rather our trusty space robots. See, it takes about half an hour to send a signal to Mars and back, and data transfer rates aren’t great. It’s just hard to send information-packed signals across such a big distance.

So a Martian cloud would be out there mainly for missions taking place on and around Mars. The idea is that a company like SpaceX could send the computers there and set up the system, and then NASA or anyone else could rent time on the computers to make up the costs. It wouldn’t be cheap to send all these computers to Mars, but here’s the thing: We do that anyway, for every mission.

They all need computers to work. And space is a pretty hostile place if you’re a computer. Interplanetary space is full of computer-corrupting radiation, and Mars doesn’t have a strong magnetic field that stops that radiation from reaching the ground.

Then there’s micrometeorites, cold, dust -- Mars just isn’t a very pleasant place to be. All of this is why Martian probes are built with redundancy: They have multiple, heavily protected computers that can step in if one breaks. But doubling the number of computers and shielding them all adds weight.

Every kilogram sent to Mars can cost between thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the mission. So probes end up with compromises -- lighter computers that aren’t as powerful they could be. But if we already had a bunch of computers out there that probes could tap into, the probes could have access to more juice for less weight.

As long as the probe’s antenna -- and also its backup antenna -- don’t break, that is. If it can’t talk to us, it also can’t talk to the cloud. Sure, there are still potential problems with getting those cloud computers to Mars.

And it wouldn’t be cheap. In that 2020 paper, published in the journal Acta Astronautica, the researchers calculated that it would cost around 1.5 billion dollars to send and set up a Martian cloud, with regular upkeep averaging out at something like a thousand additional dollars an hour. That’s a lot to sink into something nobody really asked for -- at least as far as we can tell.

Though they also figured the costs could be made up in about five years. So what would we actually do with a Martian cloud? Well, whatever we want.

That’s what we do with computers. It’s only a matter of time before someone configures Curiosity to run Doom. Actually, though, some missions could use the cloud to store their data and transmit it back to Earth.

A dedicated cloud system using technology that we’re developing anyway might be able to send data back up to a hundred times faster than current probes do, letting rovers spend more time exploring and less time talking. With less memory needed onboard, engineers could use the weight savings to cut mission costs, or add instruments that would have been cut otherwise. Others could use the computers for, you know, computations: Calculating the safest way to land, say, if something goes wrong and there’s no time to contact Earth.

But the really fun possibilities open up with missions that would use a Martian cloud for coordination between multiple robots. Because there are a lot of mission proposals out there that don’t just feature one or two probes, like we’ve been sending for decades. Why send two robots when you could send dozens?

The more you have, the more ground they can cover. Humans would take forever to work out paths for each of those robots. But the cloud could run programs that kept the little bots from crashing into each other while also accounting for the Martian terrain, toeing the always-tricky line of finding interesting places that aren’t so interesting they break a robot.

A while back, we talked about one of these ideas: HOPTERs that jump around Mars instead of using wheels. But that’s not the only proposed multi-bot mission. In 2004, a group looked specifically at three-robot teams that could help each other down cliffs.

A network of those around Mars would let us get into all sorts of craters that are inaccessible right now. In 2007, another team imagined a whole swarm of sensors so small that they could be carried by the wind, like dust. A cloud of computers might take in data from this cloud of sensors better than anything else.

So, in the end, do we need to put the cloud on Mars? Well, strictly speaking, of course not. We don’t need to go to Mars at all!

But we want to, and the cloud could theoretically make things more flexible, and enable new modes of exploration, so hey. Maybe it’s worth a try. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow Space.

Our patrons help us make free content that the whole Internet can enjoy, and we love y’all for it. Patrons get access to neat perks, like the secret blooper reels we make every month. To get in on that, check out patreon.com/scishow. {♫Outro♫}.