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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.


4 April 2011

The Science of Red Mars

Have you read the book Red Mars yet? If not, you can download a pdf of it here. It’s a classic hard sci-fi epic about the colonization of Mars, and for my latest post over at Science in my Fiction, I took a look at how the highly accurate depiction of Mars in the book has held up with all the new discoveries in the last 20 years. Head on over and check it out!


17 December 2009

AGU 2009 – Day 2

I started off day 2 of AGU at a couple of lunar talks showing off data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Unfortunately, I missed the early sessions about the high-res cameras, but the bright side was that I learned abount some instruments I was less familiar with. First was the Lunar Orbital Laser Altimeter – LOLA. A similar instrument on Mars Global Surveyor, MOLA, revolutionized our view of Mars. The …


17 November 2009

Be a Martian!

Fact #1: As a Mars scientist, I am incredibly spoiled. There are so many missions to Mars right now sending back so much data, that even if they all went silent tomorrow, it would be decades before we managed to look at all the data and figure out what it’s telling us. Fact #2: There are lots of people out there (I’m looking at you, loyal readers!) who would love …


16 February 2009

The MOC "book": Dunes, Ripples and Streaks

This is the fourth in a series of posts about the huge paper by Malin and Edgett summarizing the results from the Mars Orbital Camera’s (MOC’s) primary mission. If you’re just tuning in, get caught up by reading the first three posts, and if you want to read along, download a pdf of the paper here. This week we’re looking at two sections: “Aeolian Processes and Landforms” and “Polar Processes …


15 February 2009

The MOC "Book": Subsurface Patterns and Properties

The MOC paper saga continues. If you’re just tuning in, I’ve been writing a series of posts detailing a slow and detailed reading of the classic 2001 paper summarizing the results from the Mars Orbital Camera (MOC), the first high-resolution camera in orbit around Mars. Check out the previous posts here and here. Also, a reader pointed out to me that the full PDF of the paper is freely available …


2 February 2009

New Google Mars

Google Earth’s latest edition was just released and guess what? It has a Mars setting! There was a way to overlay Mars data on the Earth globe in previous versions, but now that’s no longer necessary: just click a button and you’re on Mars. You can choose from a variety of global maps including topography, Viking images, Day and nighttime infrared, and visible color. It also has footprints for high …


20 August 2008

How to Look at Mars

There is so much Mars data out there that it hard to keep track of all of it! Thankfully there are some useful tools that let anyone look easily look at orbital data of anywhere on the planet. The first is a program called “jmars“. This java-based program distributed by Arizona State University lets you overlay all sorts of global datasets, from MOLA topography to THEMIS nighttime infrared maps to …


5 June 2008

Phoenix's Neighborhood (Part I): The Basin

If you’re like us, you’ve been refreshing the Phoenix news page constantly, looking for the next update from Mars. If you need a little catching up on what’s going on in the mission, here are some recent posts with updates. But with all the Phoenix coverage, there hasn’t been much talk about the context for the Phoenix landing site. What’s so cool about the north pole of Mars? The north …


15 March 2008

Mars is gorges? Gullies @ LPSC

A half session at LPSC was devoted to observations and analog work on Martian gullies. These apparently young, water carved features are one of the many big puzzles on Mars today. Credit: NASA / JPL/ U. Ariz. Gullies, like the one shown above, were discovered on Mars back in 2000 in images taken by the Mars Orbiter Camera, the first high-res camera in orbit around the red planet. They were …