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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:

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.

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Science and nature

A butterfly nebula with a 3 light-year wingspan

I made the mistake of scrolling through my Twitter feed earlier. I saw the usual drama about a certain crazy person. I was about to go find a strong drink when I saw this amazing image of this butterfly nebula that I had to share.

The bright clusters and nebulae of planet Earth’s night sky are often named for flowers or insects. Though its wingspan covers over 3 light-years, NGC 6302 is no exception. With an estimated surface temperature of about 250,000 degrees C, the dying central star of this particular planetary nebula has become exceptionally hot, shining brightly in ultraviolet light but hidden from direct view by a dense torus of dust. This sharp close-up of the dying star’s nebula was recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope an

Who says science isn’t cool? Well, that crazy guy and his friends do but they don’t seem to have a handle on things anyway.

You can view the full resolution image of the Butterfly Nebula by clicking on this link. It is even more impressive up close.

Source: APOD: 2017 February 8 – The Butterfly Nebula from Hubble

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People Science and nature Television

Genius – The story of Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein, official 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics photograph.

National Geographic has produced a scripted series about Albert Einstein titled “Genius” that starts in April 2017. I just watched the trailer and I definitely want to watch this.

From Executive Producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, the premiere season of National Geographic’s first scripted anthology series, GENIUS, will focus on Nobel Prize-winning physicist Albert Einstein. Based on Walter Isaacson’s critically acclaimed and best-selling book, Einstein: His Life and Universe, and adapted by writer Noah Pink, GENIUS follows the brilliant scientist through the ups and downs of his life, from failing to get his doctorate to developing the general theory of relativity.

In the meantime, I have slowly been reading Walter Isaacson’s book that became the basis for this series. I think it’s time to return to the book and finish it. Here is the trailer for the series. It looks terrific!

There is so much good stuff available from National Geographic lately. I really want to figure out how to gain access to the channel at home. Our TV supports terrestrial TV but we haven’t connected it to either an antenna or to some sort of cable or satellite service. We basically watch whatever we can on YouTube or Netflix through our Chromecast.

If you’re interested, the Internet Archive has a collection of works about and by him that is worth exploring. One of my favourite photos featuring him and a collection of other top scientists of the time is this colourised version of a group photo taken at the 1927 Solvay Conference.

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Science and nature

Gravitational Waves are now following you

I had to see what xkcd had to say about the recent confirmation of Einstein’s gravity waves. Funny!

gravitational_waves

Categories
People Science and nature Television

Neil deGrasse Tyson and I’m thinking about the laptop bag

I became a Neil deGrasse Tyson fan when I watched the series “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” which I loved. deGrasse Tyson has a really interesting YouTube channel called “StarTalk Radio” which I just subscribed to and which you may also want to watch if you are into astrophysics. Here is his introduction:

Small confession: as much as I was paying attention to what he was saying, I couldn’t help but notice his laptop bag in the background. I just kept thinking: “Hey, I have the same laptop bag!”.

Back to what I was writing about, you can also follow deGrasse Tyson on Twitter and Facebook:


Image credit: Hubble Sees a “Mess of Stars” from the NASA Goddard Space Center, licensed CC BY 2.0