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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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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!

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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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2 October 2010

The 4th MSL Landing Site Workshop: Day 3 – Final Discussion

We wrapped up the landing site workshop on wednesday afternoon by revisiting each of the four sites and discussing them in turn. Unfortunately, the way that we did this was very disappointing, and made for a frustrating afternoon. The discussion was centered around a word document that was projected up on the screen in the room. Over lunch, the meeting leaders had conferred and listed what they thought were the …

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29 September 2010

The 4th MSL Landing Site Workshop: Day 2 – Eberswalde Crater

The final site of the four that we discussed yesterday was Eberswalde, which of course is interesting because of the big delta that is preserved in the western part of the crater.The first presentation on Eberswalde was an impassioned and really interesting talk by terrestrial geomorphologist Bill Dietrich. Bill talked about how Eberswalde is an excellent site for going beyond just making qualitative statements about water on Mars and actually …

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The 4th MSL Landing Site Workshop: Day 2 – Holden Crater

The second site that we discussed yesterday was Holden Crater. Ross Irwin gave the first, overview presentation. Holden is a 155 kilometer crater that formed right in the middle of a huge drainage system that spans from the Argyre basin to the northern plains, and at Holden you would land on a bunch of coalescing alluvial fans on the western crater floor and then drive southeast to access some nice …

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The 4th MSL Landing Site Workshop: Day 2 – Mawrth

Holy cow. Today was jam-packed with interesting stuff about Mawrth Vallis, Holden Crater and Eberswalde Crater! I took tons of notes, and I will try to use those to assemble a coherent picture of what was presented and discussed today. But if you’re too impatient to wait for me to work through those and post the more coherent summary, here are the notes in their raw and unedited form. Read …

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28 September 2010

4th MSL Landing Site Workshop: Day 1

It has begun! Today was the first of a three day workshop in which the Mars science community (not just those directly involved in the MSL mission) gathers together and hashes out what we know and what we don’t know about the four finalist MSL landing sites. For me the week actually started yesterday at the MSL team meeting, where we got lots of updates on the various aspects of …

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24 September 2010

The 4th MSL Landing Site Workshop

Well folks, I’m off to Pasadena to help the Mars community decide where to send its next rover. Long-time readers will recall that i’ve been to a couple of these things before and they’re always fascinating. I was going to post a reminder of what the four finalist sites are, with pros and cons and all that, but it turns out I don’t have to! My friend Lisa Grossman, a …

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16 December 2009

AGU 2009 – Day 1

For those not familiar with the conference, the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union is a terrifyingly, overwhelmingly large conference. Each year, something like 16,000 geoscientists descend on San Francisco to share their work. It is also one of the major planetary science conferences, so a lot of new results are first presented here. This year, the first talks that I checked out on Monday were about radar observations …

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