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13 June 2018
Sol 2081: "Just a Bunch of Dirt"
‘You have to get rid of that video–it just shows a bunch of dirt!’ I got on the phone and calmly explained that the offending sequence was in fact the very first Mars-landing video.
21 November 2017
Sols 1882 – 1888: Science-Filled Thanksgiving Holiday
This week we put together two extra-large helpings of science to get Curiosity through the Thanksgiving holiday.
11 May 2012
Our Super Moon
You may have heard all the excitement last weekend about the so-called “supermoon”. The gist of it is that the moon’s orbit is not perfectly circular, so its distance from the earth varies slightly. But all the talk of the “SuperMoon” got me thinking and I realized that we were missing a teachable moment. No, the moon being at perihelion is not a big deal, but our Moon is pretty “super”. Let me show you why:
18 November 2011
Mapping the Moon
As a reader of this blog, you’re probably at least passingly familiar with the progression of maps of Mars, from the first fuzzy sketches, to the intricate maps of “canals” to today’s exquisite data. But maps of our closest neighbor – the Moon – have also evolved quite a bit. For a nice pictorial history of moon maps, and an explanation for the names of some of the lunar features, go check out this post over on The Awl.
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?
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.
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!
20 December 2010
Be afraid mortals, for today the heavens align and the moon turns red as blood!
No, really. Tonight is not only the northern winter solstice, when the northern nights are longest since we are tilted away from the sun, but there is also a lunar eclipse tonight! I like lunar eclipses a lot, first of all, because they are much more common and long-lived than solar eclipses, but more importantly, the moon turns red.