Daily Archives: August 11, 2011

NASA Mars Rover Arrives at New Site on Martian Surface

After a journey of almost three years, NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has reached the Red Planet’s Endeavour crater to study rocks never seen before.

On Aug. 9, the golf cart-sized rover relayed its arrival at a location named Spirit Point on the crater’s rim. Opportunity drove approximately 13 miles (21 kilometers) since climbing out of the Victoria crater.

“NASA is continuing to write remarkable chapters in our nation’s story of exploration with discoveries on Mars and trips to an array of challenging new destinations,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. “Opportunity’s findings and data from the upcoming Mars Science Laboratory will play a key role in making possible future human missions to Mars and other places where humans have not yet been.”

Details here.

Close Up Photo of Asteroid


3D Image of Vesta’s Equatorial Region

This anaglyph image of Vesta’s equator was put together from two clear filter images, taken on July 24, 2011 by the framing camera instrument aboard NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. The anaglyph image shows hills, troughs, ridges and steep craters. The framing camera has a resolution of about 524 yards (480 meters) per pixel. Use red-green (or red-blue) glasses to view in 3-D (left eye: red; right eye: green [or blue]).

The Dawn mission to Vesta and Ceres is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. It is a project of the Discovery Program managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Va., designed and built the Dawn spacecraft.

The framing cameras were developed and built under the leadership of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany, with significant contributions by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin, and in coordination with the Institute of Computer and Communication Network Engineering, Braunschweig. The framing camera project is funded by NASA, the Max Planck Society and DLR. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena.

All the details are here

Can a person be scientifically literate without accepting the concepts of evolution and the big bang?

Can a person be scientifically literate without accepting the concepts of evolution and the big bang? To many scientists and educators, the answer to that question is an unqualified “no.” But the National Science Board–the governing body of the National Science Foundation (NSF)–isn’t sure that rejecting evolution for religious reasons automatically undermines a person’s scientific literacy.

yes it does

The paper in question is behind a firewall, but I may be discussing it later.

The Internet is Very Interesting Today

Did we miss an opportunity over the last few months? For several months, since Last April, SETI has been in hibernation, not taking calls from aliens living in other worlds with radio sets. Phil Plait reports that SETI is back on line after a revival of funding. The question is, did we miss any calls? The funds are private donations. Phil “… was happy to see that people such as Jodie Foster (who played SETI astronomer Ellie Arroway in the movie “Contact”) and science fiction author Larry Niven were among people who had contributed, as well as Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders. The $200k donated is enough to get things started again, but not enough to continue operations, so it looks like there will be more fund (and awareness) raising soon by SETI.”

You’ll notice that I’ve not been posting regular hurricane updates this year as I did over the last couple/few years. There are three reasons for this: 1) I’m inconsistent and capricious in my blogging; 2) In the Atlantic, which is where I’ve focused, the Hurricane Season has been less interesting than usual; and 3) Dr. Jeff Masters has it covered at his Wunderblog, which I strongly recommend. Dr. Jeff is currently reporting two African waves that may develop and if they do, I might start blogging their windy watery selves.

I know the average person does not understand what placebos are (and are not) but I also suspect that the average person in the health industry does not either, or at least, as well as they should. Neuroskeptic has an interesting blog post pointing to a piece in Nature about sham surgery. Worth a look.

There is now a new blog carnival: The Roman Bioarchaeology Carnival. Most of my personal bioarchaeology of these later periods has been Greek, but this is still interesting. Check it out. It’s mostly about human skeletal materials.

Don’t forget to check out Sheril’s new blog, “Culture of Science” … she’s been posting up a storm, and it’s all good stuff.

Does it work to “trap” bugs in a bug trap that attracts them to their doom, or do you end up attracting more bugs than get trapped, thus spiting yourself and the bugs? Ask Bug Girl, obviously.