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16 April 2011

Dreaming of Easy-to-Use Data

Some thoughts on how difficult it is to use multiple different types of data in planetary science, how easy it could be, and two free programs that are important first steps in making easy-to-use data a reality.


17 January 2011

Ask an Astronomer (Live)!

Do you have burning questions of an astronomical nature? Or do people come to you with those sorts of questions? About the zodiac perhaps? Well, my friend, you need to go spend some time on the Ask an Astronomer site that my fellow graduate students at Cornell run. Over the years, we have received thousands of questions from interested people, and those that we think might be of interest to …


12 January 2011

Teacher Webinar: Rovers and Career Advice

Yesterday I had the opportunity to give my first ever “webinar” to a group of teachers and some of their students, and thanks to the miracle of the internet, the whole thing is recorded so you can watch it too! Shoshe Cole, another Mars graduate student here at Cornell gave the first presentation, focusing mostly on general Mars background info and the current Mars Exploration Rovers. My presentation starts at just shy of 1 hour into the recording, and I talked about Mars Science Laboratory and my involvement in the mission through ChemCam work and landing site selection.

We also both included some career advice for the teachers to pass onto their students, so if you or someone you know are interested in a career in planetary science (or science more generally), you might want to take a look!


8 December 2009

Carnival of Space #132!

Hey, check it out, it’s the carnival of space! Things will be pretty quiet around here this week because I’m a bit preoccupied with a two-page abstract for next year’s Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (due Thursday) and putting together a poster for the American Geophysical Union conference next week. I can only imagine the LPSC coordinators cackling with glee as they scheduled the abstract deadline the week before AGU. …


31 October 2009

NaNoWriMo 2009

Well, it’s that time of year again. Against my better judgement, I have decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) again this year. For those unfamiliar with NaNo, the idea is to write a >50,000 word novel in the month of November. It’s a great way to get over the inner editor and just write, and I’ve been putzing around with this year’s story idea since earlier this …


3 September 2009

Review of 'Defying Gravity'

Hi folks. I’m still neck-deep in paper revisions, so if you’re looking for something to read, Joe Shoer has a good review of the new sci-fi show “Defying Gravity”. I’ve never seen it, but his review makes a good point that it’s refreshing and promising to see a popular show that is pro-space exploration.


6 July 2009

Student Questions about Mars Exploration

A few months ago, a class of 6th graders at JFK Middle School in Hudson, MA contacted the astronomy department at Cornell. They were doing an egg-drop project, modeled after the Mars rovers, and their teacher had them each write questions to Steve Squyres about the rover mission. Steve was out of town (and is always extremely busy), but he suggested that many of the questions could be answered by …


4 July 2009

Now Back to our Regularly Scheduled Programming

As of yesterday at noon, I am happy to report that I passed my A-exam and now have a M.S. in Astronomy, and am a PhD candidate! That’s right, I somehow managed to convince my committee that shooting rocks with lasers and looking at landing sites on Mars is worthy of a PhD. Being grilled about the fundamentals of your science by Jim Bell (my adviser and lead scientist for …


8 June 2009

Carnival of Space #106

Hello folks, apologies for the lack of posts lately. I have been keeping busy trying to write up a draft of a paper on the Gale crater landing site for MSL, which is taking a very long time and becoming very large. I don’t anticipate having lots of time to post here this month. Even as I work on the draft, I will be traveling out to Los Alamos National …


19 April 2009

Impressive Arecibo

Betsey over at the ALFALFA Survey Blog just posted about visiting Arecibo and how jaw-droppingly impressive the telescope is. Her pictures are spectacular, so you should go check them out! Here’s a teaser:


14 April 2009

Where the Moon Rocks Live

This month, I am working at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, and I have to say, it’s a pretty cool place to work. Every morning I ride my bike past the pair of NASA T-38 jets that mark the entrance to Space Center Houston (the touristy part of JSC). I ride through the security checkpoint and on my left are a handful of rockets from the early days of …


9 April 2009

I have joined the dark side

Guess what? I finally joined twitter! I am marschronicler! Do you want to know about the minutiae of my life? My most (and least) profound thoughts? What I had for breakfast? Well, then you are in luck, my friends!


4 April 2009

Yuri's Night and 100 Hours of Astronomy

Are you going to a Yuri’s Night party this year? I am! In about five minutes! In case you’ve never heard of it, Yuri’s night is a worldwide series of parties held on April 4-12 to commemorate Yuri Gagarin’s first spaceflight! It is the brainchild of Loretta Hidalgo-Whitesides, a fellow NASA Academy alum and all around cool person. This year there are 171 parties in 41 countries on six continents …


14 March 2009

Rocket Scientista

A friend of mine from undergrad, who is an honest-to-goodness rocket scientist had started a new blog about astronomy and grad school and what it’s like to be a crazy rocket scientist. She just put up a nice post about grad students looking ahead to faculty positions and how we need to take time to appreciate how cool our current jobs are. Here’s an excerpt: While everyone talks about how …


12 January 2009

Colonizing Earth

The other day I helped a race of hideous spiderlike aliens colonize Antarctica. I’ve posted about the game Spore before, but the basic idea is that you begin as a protozoan in the primordial ooze and work your way up through various stages of evolution until you become a space-faring civilization capable of colonizing other worlds, terraforming them, and populating them with plants and animals of your choosing (or even …


15 December 2008

AGU Impressions

Attending a conference this large (15,000 abstracts) is an interesting experience. Boarding the plane last night, I saw a few dozen poster tubes, a clear sign of a scientist on the way to a meeting. The person in the seat in front of me was working on a table of atmospheric isotope ratios in a tattered notebook, and next to me was a friend from Cornell (now at Brown) who …


21 November 2008

Holst's 'The Planets'

A month or so ago, Cornell hosted a planetary science conference, and one of the big events associated with that was a performance of Holst’s famous symphony “The Planets”. For each movement, some of us in the astronomy department put together a slideshow to go with the music. The concert was totally awesome, and there is now a video and audio version available online! For me, firefox crashed when I …


29 October 2008


“To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.” – Leonard Bernstein Starting on Saturday, I will be participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), an annual activity in which insane writers attempt to complete a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. The rules are that you can plan as much (or as little) as you want beforehand, but the page must …


24 October 2008

New President of the Planetary Society!

I just found out that the Planetary Society has selected a new president: none other than my adviser, Jim Bell! I was wondering where he was earlier this week… I guess I’ll have to start addressing him as Mr. President.  🙂


23 May 2008

Facebook for Scientists Launched

Check it out, facebook for scientists: This site just launched today, and it looks like it could be a really sweet tool for “early career scientists” – if it catches on. You can make a profile for yourself, a research vitae with descriptions of current research projects, upload publications, connect with other researchers, and probably much more. There are some hilarious facebook-ish aspects to this site, though: there’s a …