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31 January 2022

Midwinter rain-on-snow a game changer

By Ned Rozell A few hours of a December day may affect living things for years to come in the middle of Alaska. On Dec. 26, more than an inch of rain fell over a wide swath of the state. Much of the backcountry of Interior Alaska now has an ice sheet beneath a foot of fluffy snow. With half of the seven-month winter yet to come, things look grim …

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The porcupine’s winter in slow-motion

By Ned Rozell While running through Bicentennial Park in Anchorage, biologist Jessy Coltrane spotted a porcupine in a birch tree. On her runs on days following, she saw it again and again, in good weather and bad. Over time, she knew which Alaska creature she wanted to study. “I thought, ‘Oh my god, how does he do it? How does this animal make it through winter?’” Coltrane said years ago …

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28 May 2021

Bringing the world to a standstill

By Ned Rozell On a fine June day about 100 years ago, in a green mountain valley where the Aleutians stick to the rest of Alaska, the world fell apart. Earthquakes swayed the alders and spruce. A mountain shook, groaned, and collapsed in on itself, its former summit swallowing rock and dust until it became a giant, steaming pit. About six miles away, hot ash began spewing from the ground …

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30 April 2021

The secret life of an Alaska fish

By Ned Rozell In Alaska’s infinite waters swims a handsome, silvery fish. Until recently, we knew little about the Bering cisco, which exists only around Alaska and Siberia. Then a scientist combined his unique life experiences with modern tools to help color in the fish’s life history. Randy Brown is a fisheries biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Fairbanks. Many years before he started that career, he …

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6 April 2021

White-winged crossbills and yellow snow

By Ned Rozell While out on a springtime snow trail, I recently saw a dozen white-winged crossbills pecking at snow on the side of the trail. When I reached the spot, I saw a yellow stain from where a team of dogs had paused. Last spring, I saw a bunch of crossbills gathered near an outhouse. They were congregated at a communal pee spot in the snow. The birds were …

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8 April 2020

Virtual field trips continued: Fighting your four walls with more walls

If you’re beginning to feel like the walls are closing in, you’re not alone. I know that pictures of wide open spaces on a screen can only do so much to relieve feelings of being boxed in. In fact, they could even backfire by making you yearn all the more for wide horizons. So I’m trying a different tack this week…

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1 April 2020

Fill your field of view with views from the field

We all need a break, and it’s really hard to get one. So for the third week in a row I am diving back into the 12 years of AGU Blogosphere archives in search of field trips. Here are five more to enjoy.

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24 March 2020

It’s an even greater time to take a virtual field trip

We have more than 400 virtual field trips stockpiled in our blogs archive going back to 2008. Here are a few of our first reports from the field.

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4 June 2019

Sol 2424-2426: West Side Multispectral Story

Today we planned the weekend activities for Curiosity in Woodland Bay. Woodland Bay is a location in Glen Torridon, in the clay bearing unit.

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28 June 2016

Sol 1385: Drive Curiosity rover, then drive some more

Not a lot to report today: these one-sol drive plans are pretty simple! (Well, as simple as driving a giant robot on another planet can be…) Yesterday’s Curiosity rover drive took us a little over 60m and we’re planning another drive in the sol 1385 plan. Before the drive, we have a short science block with a ChemCam observation of the target “Epembe” and a Mastcam mosaic of “Baynes Mountain” …

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1 June 2016

Sol 1359: Cleaning CHIMRA (Collection and Handling for In-Situ Martian Rock Analysis device)

The remaining Okoruso drill sample was successfully dumped onto the ground on Sol 1358, so MSL is ready for a new drill sample.  In preparation, the Sol 1359 plan includes an arm preload test on “Oudam,” the next drill target, and cleaning out CHIMRA with imaging to verify that everything is clean. Before all the arm activities, ChemCam and Mastcam will observe the Okoruso dump pile and a bedrock target …

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23 April 2016

Sols 1320-1322: Drilling at Lubango

The contact science activities on Sol 1319 went well, and we analyzed another DRT location with MAHLI and APXS.  The drill pre-load test suggested that the Lubango block might have moved slightly, but the RPs feel comfortable to go ahead and drill in the weekend plan. I was on duty as GSTL again today, and it’s always exciting when we get to drill a new sample on Mars.  In addition …

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21 February 2016

Sols 1256-1261: Driving Around the Dune

Apologies for the lateness of this week’s update: The rover is fine, gradually working its way around the north end of a large dune. I’m just an absent-minded blogger with too many other things going on! We started this week on Tuesday with the Sol 1256 plan. This included some long distance ChemCam RMi images of a location on Mt. Sharp that I have been advocating for, plus some small …

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23 December 2015

Sol 1202-1213: Holidays on Earth, Busy Days on Mars

Today’s plan is a four sol Holiday plan covering Sol 1202-1205, and it will be followed by some pre-planned activities to take us all the way until Sol 1214 and the new year here on Earth, so there’s a lot to talk about! On Sol 1202, we will first repeat the ChemCam RMI and Mastcam change detection images that we’ve been acquiring of the nearby dunes.  Then the arm will …

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16 May 2011

Utah Mars Analogs

Greetings from Los Angeles! I’m in California this week for the 5th and final MSL Landing Site Workshop. Since that is sure to provide some tasty blog-fodder, I thought I should sit down and write about my trip to Utah two weeks ago.

Why did I go to Utah? Because the latest MSL camera team meeting was held in Moab, and I was hoping to give a brief presentation about some work I’ve been doing on the side (in all my copious free time) with the calibration data for the Mastcams. Unfortunately, I can’t write about what happened at the business part of the meeting because then I would have to kill you. Or more likely Mike Malin would kill me. It turned out there wasn’t time for me or my adviser to give our presentations, but it was still a great trip because after the “sit in a room all day and watch powerpoint presentations” part of the meeting, came the field trip!

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12 August 2010

Molar Tooth Texture

Ok, so remember the weird rock I showed in my Galcier Park geology post? No? Here it is again: This texture is called “molar-tooth” texture, because apparently someone thought it looked like the teeth of elephants. They must have been studying some weird elephants. It’s a very bizarre texture. It cuts across the layers of the rock as if it is related to fractures, but it is often deformed and …

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7 August 2010

The Geology of Glacier National Park: Part 1

Well, the field trip is over and I am happy to say that I was not eaten by any bears. They seemed much more interested in the huckleberries. I am also happy to say that I know a little bit more about the geology of Glacier National Park (and about how to interpret sedimentary geology in general) than I did before I left. The park is famous for its large-scale …

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