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4 October 2018

Geology – It’s like Investigating a Crime Scene

Sometimes planetary geology is like forensics. We are presented with a crime scene: Something broke down the original igneous rock, and made all those clays, veins and hematite nodules.


19 May 2017

Early Tanpopo mission results show microbes can survive in space

Clumps of microbes can survive in space for at least a year – and perhaps longer, according to Japanese researchers conducting an experiment on board the International Space Station (ISS).


9 May 2017

Sol 1691: Stopped Short at Green Nubble

The weekend drive stopped a little bit short of the target, but that’s ok because it put the Curiosity rover in reach of some interesting cross-bedded rocks. We decided to do a “touch and go” plan for Sol 1691, quickly analyzing the rocks in front of us and then continuing on to the original drive destination.


20 March 2017

Sol 1643: First half of long-baseline stereo

Curiosity drove about 28 meters toward the south on Sol 1642 and again is in an area with Murray Formation bedrock blocks surrounded by dark sand.


23 May 2012

SpaceX Successfully Launches Dragon Capsule to ISS

In the wee hours of the morning, SpaceX took a major step forward in private space exploration, launching their Dragon capsule on a mission to dock with the International Space Station. If the mission is successful, it will be the first time a privately owned spacecraft has docked with the ISS. This is a major milestone, and it’s great to hear the joy in people’s voices toward the end of this video. Congratulations SpaceX!


19 April 2012

Billionaires to Fund Asteroid Mining?

In another development that supports my suspicion that private enterprise is going to shape the future of space exploration, it looks like James Cameron, Larry Page, Eric Schmidt, and other influential wealthy nerds are unveiling a “new space venture” next week that is going by the name “Planetary Resources”. Of course, the press release doesn’t give any details; they want speculation to run rampant this week. Given the name, a …


12 March 2012

Why explore Mars?

During my thesis defense, one of the questions that caught me most off guard was: “What would you say to a member of the public who asked you why we’re spending more than $2 billion on the Mars Science Laboratory rover?”

I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t answer very well. I was all prepared for my research methods and results to be picked apart, and so I went sort of brain-dead when this question came up. Now, with the brutal cuts to the planetary science budget in the president’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2013, I think it’s time I gave a proper answer.