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17 May 2011

5th Mars Science Laboratory Landing Site Workshop Info

Hi folks, I don’t have much time to write a full post since I have some last minute changes to make to my talk before tomorrow morning, but I wanted to share some info about the workshop for those who want to play along at home. First, if you’re on the Twitter, there are several people at the meeting or following it online, using the hashtag #MSLsite. Speaking of following …

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29 April 2011

Gale Crater Videos

Yesterday I participated in a telecon about Gale Crater, one of the potential landing sites for MSL. It’s a fascinating place to talk about and would make for a spectacular mission. Ok, this is true for all four finalist landing sites, but the scenery at Gale, with its 5km tall mountain of layered rocks would be particularly great. One of the presenters at yesterday’s telecon, Dawn Sumner, posted two very nice videos on YouTube covering much of what she talked about. The videos also serve to show off a very-cool new open-source 3D visualization and GIS tool called Crusta being developed by a student at UC Davis.

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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.

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28 February 2011

Not dead yet

Hello loyal readers. Sorry I’ve been AWOL lately, but things have been slightly crazy. I have been frantically working on wrapping up a paper and last week I was out at Los Alamos National Lab last week collecting some last-minute data (a.k.a. zapping some more rocks) for the paper. This week I get to (somehow) finish it and make a poster about the results which I will present next week …

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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!

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3 January 2011

AGU 2010 – Days 3 and 4: Exoplanets, Impact Basins and Alteration

Now that it’s a New Year, it’s time I wrapped up my AGU 2010 recaps. This post covers Wednesday and Thursday, with lots of good stuff about super-earth exoplanets, impacts on the Moon and Mars, and lasers on Venus!

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16 September 2010

Gale Crater Geomorphology Paper – Published!

Big news folks! The huge paper that I’ve been working on for the last couple years is finally, unbelievably, published! Even better for you, it is published at the Mars journal, which is an open-access journal. Just head on over and you can download all 53 pages of pure, distilled Science! In case you don’t want to wade through that many pages (and almost as many figures) of Mars geomorphology …

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24 July 2010

HP dv6t Select Edition Notebook Review: First Impressions

Please excuse me while I geek out about my new laptop… My work now involves some really significant number crunching, to the point that I was regularly using all the CPU and RAM of my previous laptop, and was then struggling to get anything else done while the calculations were running. And then they would crash. It also helps that I will soon need to renew the license on one …

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7 June 2010

Full Triple-J Laser Interview

Hey, remember when I was randomly interviewed by the Australian radio station triple j a few weeks ago as part of their feature on the 50th anniversary of the laser? Well, in their final broadcast they only used a couple of minutes but the original interview was fifteen minutes long. So, I contacted them and asked if I could have the full audio file, and after some digging, they found …

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12 May 2010

Talking lasers on aussie radio

Through a crazy random happenstance, I was just interviewed by a friend of a friend of a friend at Australian radio station ‘triple j‘ for a feature on lasers! We talked all about shooting stuff with lasers, why one might want to do that (other than because it’s awesome) and how the real lab is not quite what people picture. The show is called Hack with Kate O’Toole, and it …

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17 April 2010

Off to MarsSed 2010

I’m headed off to El Paso Texas tomorrow! Why? Because that’s where the Mars Sedimentology and Stratigraphy workshop is! I’ll be presenting my work on the Gale Crater landing site for MSL on tuesday and then the second part of the week will be a geology field trip to interesting and instructive locations. I’m really looking forward to it, since the best way to learn geology is to go out …

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8 February 2010

Frickin’ Laser Beams: Fact vs Fiction

Last month I spent a week out at Los Alamos National Laboratory vaporizing things with a high powered laser. Now, as I drown in data that I collected out there, I thought I’d take a moment to talk about lasers. When I tell people that I zap things with lasers, I can almost see the mental images flickering behind their eyes. They tend to look something like this: Man, I …

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2 November 2009

Voting is fixed!

There were some issues with the voting widget on the University Science Writing competition, but they have been resolved, and it turns out it was counting the votes all along! So go vote for my post if you haven’t done so yet today! Don’t worry if you don’t see a number in the grey voting widget box. They decided to hide the number of votes from everyone except the authors. …

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1 November 2009

Vote Early and Often!

Remember when I mentioned a few weeks ago that I submitted a blog post about MSL as an action-adventure hero  to ScientificBlogging’s  science writing competition? Well they have announced the finalists and I’m one of them! From now until November 22, all the finalist posts are open for voting. You can vote for as many entries as you want each day, every day! So that means that you can vote …

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15 October 2009

MSL: Mars Action Hero

MSL is like James Bond. Want to know why? Check out my new post over at ScientificBlogging. I’ve submitted it to their University Science Writing Competition, so head on over and check out my entry, and while you’re there take a look at the many other excellent entries. As I understand it, the folks at ScientificBlogging will select finalists, and then voting will open up. And if I am lucky …

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16 September 2009

Mars Science Laboratory Instruments: MastCam

A few weeks ago I gave a lunch talk at Cornell summarizing the MSL mission and particularly the instruments that it will carry and was shocked by the number of people who showed up! So, sensing that there is some significant “Curiosity” about the mission, I decided to do a series of posts here. If you are impatient and don’t want to wait for me to take my sweet time …

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15 September 2009

Los Alamos

Greetings from Los Alamos New Mexico! I’ll be out here until the 24th, first getting trained to use lasers safely, then collecting lots of data and starting to crunch the numbers. This is a placeholder post, but while I’m here I’m planning on doing a series of posts about the instruments on MSL, so stay tuned!

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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 …

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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 …

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15 June 2009

Carnival of Space #107

After three flights and a nice nighttime drive during which I got to watch a  thunderstorm raging off on the horizon, lighting up the clouds like paper lanterns, I am in Los Alamos! I am here all week doing lab work: I finally get to shoot rocks with lasers! I’ll post some more info about why we are attacking rocks with sci-fi weapons at some point this week, but for …

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