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19 May 2015

Sol 990: ChemCam Autofocus Software

by Ken Herkenhoff Testing of the new ChemCam automatic focusing software continues to go well–the instrument is returning well-focused data of the quality we got used to early in the mission.  The MAHLI test data acquired on Sol 989 are also looking good; here’s an image of the penny in the MAHLI calibration target on the rover.  Having completed the most urgent arm activities needed before conjunction, MSL is ready …

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Sol 987-989: Back at Jocko Butte

by Ryan Anderson The backwards drive on sol 986 was successful, and over the weekend, Curiosity drove back toward “Jocko Butte”. Before the drive on sol 987, ChemCam had a 5×1 observation of the target “Mill”, accompanied by a Mastcam image. Mastcam also took a small 2×2 mosaic of our tracks. The drive back toward Jocko Butte was about 43 m, bringing our total odometry to 10,697 m. After the …

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16 May 2015

Sol 986: Finding a Path

by Ryan Anderson We’ve been having trouble with the path we originally wanted to take through the sand toward the interesting geology at “Mt. Stimson”, so in today’s plan we are going to take a careful look around to identify better routes. Mastcam has a 13×3 mosaic in the direction we want to go, as well as a 5×3 mosaic of Mt. Stimson and a 2×2 mosaic to fill a …

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14 May 2015

NASA: Warmest Jan.-April on Record. 2015 May be New Hottest Year On Record

The previous 12 month period was also the hottest on record and this breaks that record which was set just last month. With the daily increasing signs that a significant El Nino is brewing, we seem to be on track for another warmest year on record as well. El Nino’s really heat the atmosphere, and they tend to be among the warmer years almost always. Add in the rising greenhouse …

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Here is The Chance of A Major Hurricane Hitting The U.S. Coast this Year

This is really a great video from NASA, but what I like the most about it is how they explain a subtle fact of statistics that almost everyone, especially gamblers, basketball, and baseball players get wrong. With an El Nino brewing, we may see a quiet Atlantic tropical cyclone season. Like 1992, when we only had one storm make landfall on the coast of North America. Hurricane Andrew, a Category …

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NASA Image Shows Ground Motion from First Nepal Quake

Also See more from fellow AGU blogger Dr. Dave Petley. From NASA:  Scientists with the Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis project (ARIA), a collaboration between NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, analyzed interferometric synthetic aperture radar images from the PALSAR-2 instrument on the ALOS-2 satellite operated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to calculate a map of the deformation of Earth’s …

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8 May 2015

Sub-Tropical Storm Ana Taking on Tropical Storm Characteristics

Pretty cool shot no? NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly took that photo on-board the ISS. Here is a view (below) from this afternoon from the NASA Aqua satellite (just a little higher up from the ISS). If the convection can wrap around the center, this system may become mainly a tropical cyclone. It appears to be a hybrid storm as of now. Satellite images this afternoon indicate that it is taking …

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7 May 2015

You Really Cannot Imagine How Far Away Pluto Is, But This May Help.

  I aired a story tonight I have wanted to share for over 20 years. It has to do with the New Horizons mission which will fly by Pluto in July and allow us to see what it looks like for the FIRST TIME IN HISTORY, but I want to give you an idea of how very, very far away Pluto is. You will likely see some news reports in …

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3 May 2015

Sol 973-975: Albert, Bigfork, and Charity

  by Ken Herkenhoff MSL is in a good position for contact science observations on an interesting outcrop of sedimentary rock, so the rover will be busy this weekend!  We had to change the timing of the arm activities a bit to optimize the illumination of MAHLI targets, so it was a busy morning for me as SOWG Chair but I’m happy with the way the plan turned out.  On …

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29 April 2015

Sol 971-972: Approaching outcrop

  by Ken Herkenhoff This morning the MSL science team used all of the available data to decide whether to approach one of the nearby outcrops or drive away.  Ultimately we decided to approach the closer of the large outcrops in front of the rover to set up for contact science this weekend.  Planning is still “restricted,” so we planned two sols of activities today.  ChemCam and Mastcam will observe …

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13 April 2015

Spring Marches North: The View from Space

This is from the NASA Aqua satellite. You can see the green of spring moving into Virginia, while snow remains in the Adirondacks. High resolution, color imagery from polar orbiting satellites allows folks like me to better tell the story of our planet to our TV audience and to our online viewers as well.  

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2 April 2015

The California Drought from Space

The animated GIF image below shows the snow pack on the Sierra on April 3 2013, and today April 2, 2015. Keep in mind that California was in serious drought even in 2013 but it’s a whole lot worse now.

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1 April 2015

Jaw Dropping Images of Super Typhoon Maysak

NASA Astronauts have been sending back jaw dropping images of Super Typhoon Maysak, headed toward the Philippines with winds of nearly 240 km/hr. Astronaut Terry Virts uploaded some incredible photos of the eye of Maysak to his Twitter account as well and they provide one of the best views of an intense tropical cyclone ever made from low Earth orbit. The Super Typhoone is likely going to hit the northern Philippines in …

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31 March 2015

Martian Chronicles is Back!

Good news everyone: this blog is coming out of retirement! For a while now, I and two other USGS scientists on the Curiosity team, Ken Herkenhoff and Lauren Edgar, have been posting brief updates on what the Curiosity rover is up to, over at the USGS Astrogeology website. Now, through the wonders of the internet (and some behind the scenes work by the USGS and AGU webmasters) those updates will …

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18 March 2015

Why Dennis Mersereau at Gawker is Wrong About Fahrenheit Being A Better Temperature Scale

  I enjoy Dennis Mersereau’s pieces on Gawker, and I suspect his piece (touting the superiority of the OLD Fahrenheit scale) was covertly designed to get a thousand ugly comments from those of us who live metrically, and apparently it worked. Now, I suspect that most of Fahrenheit’s dwindling number of supporters are the type who have trouble remembering if 0.04 is 4 tenth’s or 4 hundredth’s, and are of the …

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6 March 2015

True Color View from NASA of a Snowy Northeast

This is from the NASA Terra Satellite today March 6, 2015. Click for a size large enough to print.  

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17 February 2015

The Chesapeake Bay is Freezing Up!

Click the image above for a version large enough to print! It’s become another ‘winter to remember’ in the Northeastern U.S. The snow goes all the way to the beach here on Delmarva, with 6-8 inches covering the area. Some pics sent in from our viewers are below. Below is the ferry out to Smith Island in the Chesapeake Bay. A snowy Ocean City beach below.

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9 February 2015

One of The Most Amazing Cloud Photos Ever

I just spotted this over the weekend, but its been out there for a week or so. It was taken by Astronaut Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) on the ISS. It’s a shot of lightning illuminating the eye-wall of Cyclone Bansi in the Indian Ocean. More from NASA HERE and another view below:

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6 February 2015

City Lights On A Cold Winter Night

Here is an amazing shot from the International Space Station of the U.S. East Coast, from where I live on the Delmarva Peninsula, all the way to Boston.  It was taken a couple of days ago. You can see the Aurora to the north and the approaching sunrise to the east! An even better time-lapse video is linked below: https://vine.co/v/OF6W2K7uDwv

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22 January 2015

Gravity Wave Ripples on The Satellite

The wave clouds on this image over Virginia are caused by winds flowing over the mountains. As the winds lift they form a cloud, and as they fall back down the air warms and dries out (and the cloud dissipates). These ripples happen because the air is fairly stable and does not want to go too high or low from its original height. So, after it goes over the mountains …

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