dirac

Mars!

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Not really in our portfolio, but still, awesome.

NASA's Curiosity rover has shipped back to Earth high-resolution color images of its surroundings on Mars, sharpening our views of an intriguing channel, layered buttes and a layer of cobbles and pebbles embedded in a finer matrix of material. The images show a landscape closely resembling portions of the southwestern United States, adding to the impression gained from the lower-resolution thumbnail images released earlier this week.

Image gallery.

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Oh, color! I tuned out when I heard the mission hadn't smashed like the one in 1999, owing to confusion then over Imperial vs. metric units of measure between different parts of the project, and so, losing the $125 million it had cost. (Somebody explain to me again how converting the USA to the metric system is "too expensive".)

The news at the time of (soft!) landing was that color images would be along after a while - I still haven't noticed media carrying the interesting detail that the images take 14 minutes, at the speed of light (or radio waves) just to get here, once on their way, the equipment is that far away, making the whole undertaking a little more awesome to this old techie - but I don't think we here are averse to experiencing some awe now and then, dirac, so it's good to have the links. Thanks!

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Anything this beautiful is absolutely in our portfolio -- many thanks for the link!

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Thanks, dirac, for posting that. I liked watching the cartoon of the process of the descent of Curiosity, and trying to figure out what would finally be left after all its separations. At some point I misread the text as saying that Sky Crane was the Unconscious, where it really said it had become "unconscious" as it had detached itself.

How do I land on Mars?

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/interactives/edlcuriosity/index-2.html

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You're welcome, all. Nice link, Quiggin. The NASA website does have some fine stuff.

A replica of Curiosity is on display at the Exploratorium for a limited time.

Curiosity sports a number of familiar tools such as a variety of cameras and a robotic arm. But it’s called a science laboratory because, unlike its predecessors, it can analyze the rock and soil samples it collects, as well as atmospheric samples, using onboard test instruments. For example, one instrument (which uses X-ray diffraction and fluorescence) will identify and quantify the minerals in the rock and soil samples. A suite of three instruments (a quadrupole mass spectrometer, a gas chromatograph, and a tunable laser spectrometer) can identify organic compounds including carbon and oxygen.

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Two of the mission control specialists were on the NPR game show Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me last week, and one of them said that, since his assignment was to oversee the landing, he was now out of a job. "Will land on Mars for food."

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Now in 3D. Note name of landing site.

This 3-D image from NASA's Curiosity was taken from the rover's Bradbury Landing site inside Gale Crater, Mars, using the left and right eyes of its Navigation camera. Between the rover on the right, and its shadow on the left, looms the rover's eventual target: Mount Sharp. The mountain's highest peak is not visible to the rover from the landing site.

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Now in 3D. Note name of landing site.

That is just lovely!

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Loved the "animation"! Thanks!

Thanks, dirac, for posting that. I liked watching the cartoon of the process of the descent of Curiosity, and trying to figure out what would finally be left after all its separations. At some point I misread the text as saying that Sky Crane was the Unconscious, where it really said it had become "unconscious" as it had detached itself.

How do I land on Mars?

http://mars.jpl.nasa...ty/index-2.html

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Loved the "animation"! Thanks!

Thanks, dirac, for posting that. I liked watching the cartoon of the process of the descent of Curiosity, and trying to figure out what would finally be left after all its separations. At some point I misread the text as saying that Sky Crane was the Unconscious, where it really said it had become "unconscious" as it had detached itself.

How do I land on Mars?

http://mars.jpl.nasa...ty/index-2.html

Thank you, gratarolli. And welcome to the board!

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On the opposite end of the technological spectrum is this:

Amateur Astrophotographer Captures Huge Explosion on Jupiter

This whole story is a visual illustration of an awesome fact about our solar system: that Jupiter acts as a “cosmic vacuum cleaner”, protecting our planet from impacts that could be devastating.

Wow -- this is spectacular. One of the things I've always loved about the SETI program is the cooperation from enthusiastic amateurs, reinforcing the idea that the community surrounding the work isn't limited to 'professionals' -- it seems that this is an excellent example of that kind of network.

I like the image of Jupiter as a slow-moving janitor, but it was the factoid about size (that a similar impact a few years ago left a dent the size of the Pacific Ocean) that really caught me up this time.

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... One of the things I've always loved about the SETI program is the cooperation from enthusiastic amateurs, reinforcing the idea that the community surrounding the work isn't limited to 'professionals' -- it seems that this is an excellent example of that kind of network.

...

Not to disparage the work of these amateur astronomers for a moment, but these two just happened to be paying attention to Jupiter when the impact occurred; another, maybe better, example of what "amateurs" can do that you might like to know about is the American Association of Variable Star Observers, members of which - as the name implies - watch certain stars through small telescopes on regular schedules, so as to amass data on their varying brightness for the benefit of the "professionals" to analyze and use as a basis for theories about the causes of the variations. Really, isn't this another occasion to remember that old wisecrack that the difference between an amateur and a professional is that professionals get paid? A distinction all too often in the background of our main subject here...

As to SETI, I used to see a member of that project at meetings of a local computer-user group. When he let his laptop alone for a while, it switched over to number-crunching for SETI, displaying the most impressive "screen saver" I've ever seen!

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