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5 March 2010

LPSC 2010 – Day 3: Rover Update, Mafic Mars and Atmospheres

Wednesday started off with a summary of results from the Opportunity rover, given by Steve Squyres. He started off talking about the several iron meteorites discovered in the past year. I thought it was particularly interesting that there are hematite blueberries on top of some of the meteorites: the blueberries are way too big to be lifted by the wind, so that means the meteorite must have been buried and …

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29 January 2010

xkcd Spirit

xkcd (a comic which you should all be reading if you aren’t already) has a nice comic up today about Spirit. Click the image to see the whole thing.

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27 January 2010

So we'll go no more a roving…

With yesterday’s news of Spirit’s defeat at the hands of the sulfury sands of Mars, I was reminded of this poem. It is by Lord Byron, but I first encountered it in one of my favorite short stories in this blog’s namesake, Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. The story is entitled “And the Moon be Still as Bright”, and the poem is “So we’ll go no more a-roving”: So, we’ll …

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Spirit is no longer a Rover

In a news conference yesterday, NASA announced that Spirit’s driving days are likely over, but by virtue of remaining stationary, new science possibilities are opened up. Here’s the text from the press release: After six years of unprecedented exploration of the Red Planet, NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit no longer will be a fully mobile robot. NASA has designated the once-roving scientific explorer a stationary science platform after efforts during …

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14 January 2010

Time is Running out for Spirit Rover

JPL just released this update on Spirit’s status and it doesn’t look good: The list of remaining maneuvers being considered for extricating Spirit is becoming shorter. Results are being analyzed Wednesday, Jan. 13, from a drive on Sol 2143 (Jan. 12, 2010) using intentionally very slow rotation of the wheels. Earlier drives in the past two weeks using wheel wiggles and slow wheel rotation produced only negligible progress toward extricating …

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30 December 2009

Merry Christmas from Mars!

Emily Lakdawalla over at the planetary society blog posted this cute poem from Unmannedspaceflight that I just had to share. If you want to hear a recording, head over to her blog. by Astro0 (with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore or possibly Henry Livingston Jr.) Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the stars Not a creature was stirring, not even on Mars. The rovers were driven by drivers …

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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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17 November 2009

Be a Martian!

Fact #1: As a Mars scientist, I am incredibly spoiled. There are so many missions to Mars right now sending back so much data, that even if they all went silent tomorrow, it would be decades before we managed to look at all the data and figure out what it’s telling us. Fact #2: There are lots of people out there (I’m looking at you, loyal readers!) who would love …

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15 November 2009

Crescent Earth, Water on the Moon, and Free Spirit!

Just a quick post to update you on the latest space news and remind you to keep voting for my article about how MSL is like James Bond. First of all, the Rosetta spacecraft, on its way to a rendezvous with a comet in 2014, swung by Earth the other day, and took some beautiful pictures: Second, NASA held a press conference on friday announcing that the LCROSS mission to …

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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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