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Science and nature Travel and places

Thank you for the wonderful Opportunity to visit Mars

This last week saw the official end of the Opportunity rover’s mission on Mars. NASA was unable to coax it back to life after signalling it for about eight months. This remarkable rover continued exploring Mars long after it’s original 90 day mission.

Drive along with the NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover and hear the voices of scientists and engineers behind the mission. Designed to run for 90 days, the exploration spanned more than 15 years from 2004 to 2019. Along the way, it discovered definitive proof of liquid water on ancient Mars and set the off-world driving record. For more information on the Mars Exploration Rovers and all of NASA’s Mars missions, visit mars.nasa.gov.

There is a wealth of imagery, and other information available on the mission site that document Opportunity’s journey across part of Mars’ surface. I love this image of Opportunity’s tracks in the Martian sand:

Here’s a terrific video that provides context for the featured image I’ve added to this post:

https://pauljacobson.me/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/home_www_videos_mer_20140909_OpportunityTracks20140908-1280.mov
Overhead and on-the-ground views of the 25-mile journey NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover has made since landing in 2004 – Courtesy of NASA

Another terrific resource (there’s so much available, I’m just picking items at random at this point), is this overview of the Opportunity and Spirit missions (Opportunity’s sibling, Spirit, went dormant several years ago):

This infographic highlights NASA’s twin robot geologists, the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) Spirit and Opportunity. The rovers landed on the Red Planet in 2004, in search of answers about the history of water on Mars. Spirit concluded its mission in 2010. Opportunity last communicated with Earth on June 10, 2018, as a planet-wide dust storm blanketed the solar-powered rover’s location on Mars.
Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech

The wonderful xkcd published a tribute to Opportunity that really captures the impact Opportunity, Spirit, and the other rovers have on Humanity – they take us on voyages of discovery on other worlds!

These rovers take us along for the ride. All we need to do, is look out the window now and then.

Categories
Science and nature

The sound of wind on Mars

NASA’s InSight probe has heard the sound of wind on Mars. Just think about that for a moment: the sound of wind on Mars!

Listen to Martian wind blow across NASA’s InSight lander. The spacecraft’s seismometer and air pressure sensor picked up vibrations from 10-15 mph (16-24 kph) winds as they blew across Mars’ Elysium Planitia on Dec. 1, 2018.

I played this for our kids this morning. Our son seemed to be impressed, although our daughter’s response was something along the lines of: “Meh, it sounds like wind … ”. Kids!

If you’re curious about the InSight mission, the Oatmeal has a terrific explainer of the InSight mission that may work well for kids too:

You can also find loads of images, and other information about the mission on NASA’s InSight homepage. NASA makes so much content available about their missions, they’re one of the reasons the Internet is so amazing!

Another great resource is the mission’s Twitter profile:

Categories
Mindsets Science and nature

Gazing up at Mars

I get a kick out of looking up at the night sky, and seeing Mars all the way up there, like a reddish star.

It’s exciting contemplating another planet in our Solar System that Humans will eventually visit.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech 

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Entertainment

Quote for the day thanks to Daily Maverick

I subscribe to 3 or 4 email newsletters: The Daily Maverick’s First Thing, TechCentral, Missing Link’s Preso Rock Gods and maybe one other. The first three are worth getting. They have great content, are not spammy and are entertaining. This morning First Thing had the following gem which is typical of the humor I have become accustomed to:

Russia said on Thursday it expects the debris from its failed probe to Mars to land on earth on either Sunday or Monday, but said it was unsure of the precise location. Considering the probe couldn’t find Mars, this is hardly a huge surprise.

If you want a great overview of the news first thing in the morning, subscribe to First Thing. You won’t be sorry (well, if you are you can just unsubscribe).