Lindsay the Scientist (Thoughts from the Lunar Planetary Science Conference)

8 03 2010

Sun kissed and flooded with vast amounts of knowledge, I am back at Hampshire College after a week long stint at the Lunar Planetary Science Conference in Houston, Texas. While at the conference I presented this poster of my current gully research during the Thursday evening poster session

After listening to, talking with, and presenting for over a thousand planetary scientists from all over the world  I realized just how awesome this field really is. The topics of discussion ranged from meteorites to Saturn’s moons, to craters and water on the Moon to Mars atmosphere, geomorphology and MSL landing site analysis with many, many more topics in between. NASA presented, astronauts took notes and everyone involved in planetary science from China, Japan, Russia, India, Europe and the United States drank free beer and socialized while talking about the future of our space faring species.

Make no mistake, I will definitely continue to be a part of planetary science and perhaps decide to acquire some higher degrees in this pretty sweet field of study.

Still a Mystery to Me

7 02 2010

As some of you may know from previous posts or conversations, I am studying our neighbor planet, Mars. In particular, I am quickly becoming an expert at looking at HiRISE images of gullies. This is one image I found on Friday which has left me quite intrigued for a number of reasons.

The first is the dark dunes in the north. I know very little about dunes, but the boundary seems so abrupt! Also, the gullies in the south are small and uniform. Gullies are very rarely (in my experience) as uniform as these are, especially considering the differing directions along the wall. Also the dark streaks under the landscape!

Basically a beautiful image you should all take a look at in more detail. If you actually look at the image through the HiRISE website (which I encourage lots of exploring) this is how I view the images, as downloading them usually takes quite a lot of time.

JP2 Quicklook – IAS viewer
full image grayscale, map projected

You may have to download IAS viewer but it’s totally worth it to look at other HiRISE images if you want. You can also see the image just by clicking on the preview, but you don’t get the delicate detail of it all unless you can zoom in.

(so I guess we won’t) Free Spirit! And Clouds on Mars.

27 01 2010

It appears that Spirit, one of the rovers on Mars, won’t be getting out of the sand for the rest of its life as a science station. NASA released a statement today on the permanence of Spirit’s condition.

“With just enough power for a few more moves, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are planning to send commands that will change the tilt of the rover to the north, where the sun stays during the winter at that location on Mars, and thus increase the power available to it.

If this move is successful, and the solar panels can generate enough power to power the electronics and some essential heaters, Spirit may continue its mission as a stationary science station for months or possibly years.”

This summer I tuned into NASA’s efforts to free Spirit, and now it is a little sad that the faithfully operating rover of six years is no longer able to continue roving. That said, six years is a long time for an originally planned mission of 90 days! Spirit, you did absolutely amazing work as a rover and I hope you continue to do amazing work as a stationary science lab.

And for those of you who haven’t been keeping up to date on exciting Mars news, back in 2008 Mars Phoenix Lander (another rover that spent its short life in the north polar region of Mars) was able to capture these ten shots made into a movie clip of clouds moving across the Martian sky.

Science Fiction Conventions, Science Conferences

22 01 2010

Exciting news! My abstract was officially accepted for presentation at this years Lunar Planetary Science Conference in Houston, Texas. So in March it is off to Woods Hole to present a poster on the geologic history of Martian gullies!

I will be posting my abstract as soon as I have the permission from the other three authors and certainly on my other blog I will keep more detailed updates of my research, so if you are interested in the geomorphology of Mars (and really, who wouldn’t be?) stop by over there and I’ll make sure to keep some fascinating background and cutting edge science up to date as best as I can.

I am interested in seeing the differences between a convention and a conference. This year seems to be the year that I participate in both! Watch out Texas, I just shot a gun for the first time ever and I’ll see you in a month!