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15 November 2017
Sol 1875-1876: Sitting on the Boundary
What makes this day a bit different than other days is that Curiosity is sitting right on the boundary between two geologic units observed from orbit.
31 October 2011
Lasers, Lunar Landings, and LRO
The young man was very interested in my work. I described how the tunable laser worked, how we were able to measure carbon dioxide and why it mattered. He was genuinely interested lasers and asked about other uses. I explained that laser can be used for cutting steel, measuring how fast cars are traveling, and as guide stars for observatories. I mentioned that scientists are able to accurately measure the distance to the moon by bouncing the lasers off or reflector arrays placed there by the Apollo astronauts. As I talked about the astronauts on the moon, I watched this guy’s face change. He thought for a minute and asked something like: You think we landed on the moon?
23 October 2011
Cell Phone Spectrometer
Working with light and spectrometers is a part of my job. I worked with lab-built spectrometers and tunable lasers as a grad student at Montana State. At Los Alamos I worked with a mock-up of the ChemCam spectrometers and laser system. I still work with spectrometers at Apogee Instruments. I am also a smart-phone nerd. Recently, I stumbled onto an article about research using a modified cell-phone to enable doctors to perform in-situ analysis by turning the phone into a microscope or spectrometer.
18 October 2011
The Rock of Saint Michael
One of my fellow graduate students here at Cornell, Kassandra Martin-Wells, is also writer, but unlike me she actually finishes her stories, and they’re very good. She studies cratering on the moon and wrote the following story after hearing a presentation about the moon’s south pole at a Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) meeting.