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23 April 2009

Spirit and Opportunity in the Robot Hall of Fame

On Tuesday, day 1884 of the Mars Exploration Rover mission, Spirit and Opportunity were inducted into Carnegie Mellon’s Robot Hall of Fame .  Who else made the cut?  Everyone’s favorite Austrian-accented  T-800. So it’s settled: Spirit and Opportunity are officially as badass as the Terminator. The fact that they were inducted with along with the floor-cleaning Roomba, however, makes the honor slightly less cool (I mean, that robot really sucks).

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3 February 2009

Mars Rover Poetry by John Updike

I wish every day could start out like today: I get my coffee, fire up the laptop, and only have one email waiting for me.  And it contains a poem I’ve never read.  By John Updike.  About Spirit and Opportunity: Duet on Mars by John Updike Said Spirit to Opportunity,     “I’m feeling rather frail,  With too much in my memory,     Plus barrels of e-mail.”  Responded Opportunity,     “My bounce was not so …

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29 April 2008

Lol Rovr

I’m on downlink duty for Spirit this week, and here’s an update on the winter power situation, inspired by the site everyone loves to hate (or hates to love?):

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27 March 2008

Spirit's science at Home Plate: SAFE!

With the MER budget scare having blown over, now is a perfect time to reflect on the science at Home Plate – and beyond – that Spirit has yet in store.  Rather than vent frustrations about the near-disaster of a 40% funding slash, I’d rather be reminded that we’re lucky – astoundingly lucky – to be operating spacecraft on the surface of another planet.  And for Spirit, I think the …

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14 March 2008

Enigmatic features on Enceladus

Just as I thought Saturn’s little ice moon Enceladus couldn’t get any cuter, I found out it has dimples.  You won’t spot them easily in the Cassini images, but in topographic maps, which Dr. Paul Schenk presented yesterday at LPSC, they’re striking.  Schenk identified 5 large depressions smattered across Enceladus, each roughly 100 km across and 1 km deep.  For a moon the size of Great Britain, those dimples are …

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13 March 2008

Ask not where Earth got its water…

For decades, planetary scientists have been arguing about how the Earth acquired its oceans.  Maybe the water came from volcanic outgassing, or was delivered by icy comets, or came from a bombardment of asteroids over geologic time.  Models of the Earth’s formation show that our planet didn’t form with enough water to account for its present oceans – that means the water came from somewhere else.    But maybe our …

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12 March 2008

Spiders on Mars?!

Yes, it’s true –there are multi-legged, creepy-crawly looking things on Mars. The HiRISE camera has taken pictures of a slew of these things. But don’t worry, arachnophobs – they won’t bite or lay eggs under your skin at night. They’ll just spit.   The “spiders” are actually systems of channels near the south pole of Mars, as Dr. Candy Hansen explained during one of this morning’s LPSC sessions. These channels …

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