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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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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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19 March 2011

LPSC 2011: Day 2 – Cryospheres, Carbon, and Methane Skepticism

More on the cryosphere of Mars, along with some speculation about martian carbonates and skepticism about the presence of methane in the martian atmosphere.

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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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7 November 2010

Mars Science Laboratory Instruments: APXS

A long time ago, I started doing a series of posts about the instruments on Mars Science Laboratory, but I only got through the cameras before I got distracted by something shiny on the internet and forgot to finish the series. So, let’s remedy that, starting with APXS. APXS stands for alpha particle x-ray spectrometer, meaning that this instrument bombards its target with helium nuclei (alpha particles) and x-rays, causing …

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21 September 2010

Meteorite Ahead!

There has been a flurry of emails going around among the MER team about a certain rock ahead of the Opportunity rover that looks like it may be yet another meteorite.  It certainly doesn’t look much like the local meridiani rocks, which are the light-toned patches in the photo above. Meteorites are interesting because they provide information about the weathering environment on mars. We know that Mars is all rusty, …

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3 September 2010

Seeing Early 20th Century Russia Like a Rover

Hello folks! Apologies for the lack of posts lately, I had to go get married and go on a honeymoon! But I’m back now, and adjusting to the real world again. As I sifted through my inbox earlier this week, I came across a link to a fascinating collection of photographs. These are color photos of the Russian Empire taken by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii. But wait! How could he have …

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4 June 2010

Spirit Rover Discovers Carbonates

Big news from Mars today, Spirit has found evidence for significant amounts of carbonates in the rocks of Gusev crater! Carbonates are really important for two reasons: first of all, Mars has a very thin CO2 atmosphere right now. Too thin for water to remain as a liquid on the surface: it would just boil away and freeze at the same time! But there is lots of evidence that water …

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2 May 2010

Carnival of Space 152

Welcome to The Martian Chronicles and the 152nd edition of the Carnival of Space! As always, we’ve got a great bunch of space-related posts from across the blogosphere, ranging from life on Mars to the age of the universe to Science Ninjas! I’ll get things started with a pair of posts from right here at The Martian Chronicles. A couple weeks ago I went on a cool geology field trip …

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8 March 2010

Hailing Frequencies Open!

Check this out, Star Trek’s Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) at JPL, ready to communicate with the rovers!

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