Wheels down on Mars, once again


First image from Perseverance

NASA folks land on Mars, again. I switched onto the NASA Channel to check on how they were doing…and the lander had chute deployed and about 7 kilometers above the surface of Mars.

It was just halftime in the Europa League football match I was watching; so, I quick ran to get my wet-and-snow walking shoes – to change while watching. I usually start a couple laps of our fenceline at halftime if I’m watching footie and we got a few more inches of snow, last night.

They spiked the landing. Truly fun to watch for an old time science and scifi geek like me. Nice to see reality match fiction.

Check your local TV access for progress!

NASA rover reveals Mars was habitable

NASA scientists say tests on a Mars rock show the planet could have supported primitive life.

At a briefing at NASA’s Washington headquarters on Tuesday, NASA scientist said that an analysis of a Mars rock sample by the Curiosity rover had unveiled minerals, including hydrogen, carbon and oxygen, that are the building blocks of life…

“A fundamental question for this mission is whether Mars could have supported a habitable environment,” said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Programme. “From what we know now, the answer is yes…”

The rock sample was drilled from a sedimentary bedrock sample and found to contain clay minerals, sulfate minerals and other chemicals.

Based on the analysis of those chemicals, researchers were able to determine that the water that helped form the rocks were of a relatively neutral pH.

“We have found a habitable environment that is so benign and supportive of life, that probably if this water was around and you had been there, you would have been able to drink it,” said John Grotzinger, Curiosity project scientist from the California Institute of Technology.

Yes, that does give you a lot to think about. Could there have been a civilization on Mars that succeeded in destroying the ecology – and themselves? Worth reflecting on given the quality of politicians our own species is saddled with.

Lincoln on Mars

I’ve been waiting for NASA’s rover Curiosity to land safely so I can tell you that we now have Lincoln on Mars. Yes, Abraham Lincoln on the Red Planet.

The penny, a 1909 “VDB” penny, is used as a calibration target for the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) instrument, which is to be used to take extreme close-ups of rocks and soil. The penny, provided by MAHLI’s principal investigator Ken Edgettt, is a nod to geologists’ tradition to place a coin as a size reference in close-up photos of rocks.

Besides the penny, the MAHLI calibration target includes color chips, a metric bar graphic, and a stair-step pattern for depth calibration.

All of which you can see – with the penny mounted – over here.

Thanks, Ursarodinia