Five holes blasted by Curiosity using its super-awesome laser on some Martian ground. Not only does it shoot, but it can break down the resulting plasma and determine what molecules are present.
Posts from the ‘curiosity’ Category
Random Fact of the Day:
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The wheels of the Curiosity rover spell out JPL in Morse code. Everywhere it goes, we’ll be leaving clues for telegraph-using extraterrestrials
What can you say about this? Everything Curiosity does is just cool.
A simplified demonstration of how planets move:
The planets orbit the sun in ellipses on a relatively flat plane
The sun is moving through space around a massive black hole in the middle of our galaxy, the Milky Way. This is the second part of the .gif, when the planets start spiraling.
The Milky Way is part of a cluster of galaxies called the Local Group, which orbit around a center between us and the Andromeda Galaxy.
And the Local Group is part of the Virgo Supercluster, which is one of millions to billions of superclusters in the observable universe.
Not to mention all of that is speeding “outward” as the universe expands. Probably. At speeds approaching light-speed.
But despite all of this movement, we are able to shoot a rover attached to a lowering crane and hit a designated landing spot on one little planet.
If that isn’t an awesome example of science, I don’t know what is.
What’s the value of space exploration?
This week, elated by the Curiosity rover, I posted something about how great NASA is to my FB page. Someone immediately commented that it cost $3B already (which I don’t think is even accurate), and complained that it was a waste of money that would be better spent on immediate needs back home.
Of course, I ranted about how the space program has provided nearly limitless value in terms of the technology it’s provided the United States and the world. And of course, he was unconvinced, calling quantifiable and demonstrable advances in communications, medicine, public safety, engineering, transportation, etc., “subjective benefits.”
So in the interest of assisting anyone else who may have encountered such a myopic lack of vision and, what else can I call it but flat-out ignorance, and since NASA’s budget is forever on the chopping block, here are a few links to more information about what is known as NASA’s “spinoff technologies.”
back issues of Spinoff magazine, a free annual PDF that’s over 200 pages of details about NASA advancements
Top 10 NASA Inventions You Might Use Every Day from Discovery.com
10 Best NASA Spinoffs from Wired
In a nutshell, if you drive, fly, walk, use a cell phone, use a computer, use a smoke detector, use a GPS device, wear shoes, sleep on a bed, wear glasses, check your kid’s temperature, check the weather, or ever had a CAT scan… your life has been positively impacted by NASA technologies.
Protip: Science haters gonna science hate.
Not to mention the research opportunities and what we’ve learned about both ourselves and the rest of the universe from NASA.
Not to mention, Curiosity cost about $2.5 billion. Air conditioning in the Iraq War was at least $15 billion dollars a year. If we can produce all of this awesome stuff on just $19 billion a year, imagine what we could do with a dedicated national research effort.
Earth from MARS!
This is the first image ever taken of Earth from the surface of a planet beyond the Moon. It was taken by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit one hour before sunrise on the 63rd Martian day, or sol, of its mission.
The image is a mosaic of images taken by the rover’s navigation camera showing a broad view of the sky, and an image taken by the rover’s panoramic camera of Earth. The contrast in the panoramic camera image was increased two times to make Earth easier to see.The inset shows a combination of four panoramic camera images zoomed in on Earth. The arrow points to Earth. Earth was too faint to be detected in images taken with the panoramic camera’s color filters.
Ever since NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars and started beaming back photographs earlier this week, people have been wondering, “why are the photos so bad?” The criticism seems merited: consumers these days are snapping great high-res photographs using phones that cost just hundreds of dollars, yet NASA can’t choose a camera with more than 2-megapixels of resolution for their $2.5 billion mission?
In an interview with dpreview, project manager Mike Ravine of Malin Space Science Systems — the company that provided three of the rover’s main cameras — explains that there were a couple main reasons behind the “lame” cameras: data transfer and fixed specifications. (PetaPixel)
Explains why the cameras on Curiosity are 2 mega-pixel with 2 gigs of storage when our phones have 8 mega-pixel and 64 gigs.
Mostly because it’s difficult to send a lot of data from 88 million miles away, and when the design was set in stone we were still in 2004.