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.

(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.