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15 April 2015
Sol 957: Fine Views and Limited Downlink
by Ken Herkenhoff MSL drove about 65 meters on Sol 956, then took some nice images of the path ahead. As we continue to drive each sol, acquiring images of the terrain around us is important to the science team. We don’t want to miss anything! So the Sol 957 plan includes ChemCam RMI and Mastcam images of outcrops to the south and a Mastcam image of the windblown …
3 April 2015
Sols 946-947: Mars Hand Lens Imager mosaic
by Ken Herkenhoff The MAHLI operations team did a lot of good work preparing for Sol 946, so I expected that it would be an easy day for me as uplink lead. Unfortunately, a problem on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) prevented some of the data we expected to receive in time for planning from being relayed to Earth. MRO has been very reliable in the past and we have gotten used to …
22 April 2011
New CO2 Reservoir Discovered on Mars
If you’ve followed Mars science for long, you know that the question of where the atmosphere went is a major one. Evidence points to liquid water on the surface of Mars, and that’s only possible if the atmospheric pressure is high enough and the surface temperature is warm enough. Adding CO2 to the atmosphere would increase both temperature and pressure, so a lot of scientists have been looking for carbonate rocks that might be trapping the CO2 that used to be in the atmosphere.
Well, this week a new article in Science reveals that there is a huge amount of CO2 trapped as dry ice near the South Pole!
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.
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!
26 May 2010
Mars Polar Cap Mystery Solved
If you’ve ever seen a picture of the north polar cap of Mars, you’ve probably wondered why it has those spiral troughs in it. Until recently, you would be in good company: it’s a question that has been plaguing scientists for 40 years. But it has finally been solved! Go check out my new article at Universe Today to find out more!
27 January 2010
Awesome new Mars flyovers
Check out these awesome flyovers of Mars, generated by Doug Ellison of UnmannedSpaceflight! These are based on digital elevation models from HiRISE, draped with the HiRISE images, so it’s about as close as we can get to actually flying above the surface of Mars. I particularly like the Gale crater one, but I may be slightly biased, having stared at Gale for the past year or so…
5 January 2010
Putative "recent" lakes on Mars
I have a new article up at Universe Today about the discovery of possible lakes on Mars as recently as 3 billion years ago. I’m skeptical of the conclusion because there are a lot of uncertainties in crater age-dating on Mars, and the whole argument hangs on the discovery of small channels between pits that are supposedly due to flowing water, but it’s interesting nonetheless. Stay tuned, I have more …
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 …
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 …