The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thread)


A place for the discussion of all things not closely related to the sport and its competitive side. (as always, locked for the duration of major international championship)

The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thread)

Postby JRM » Mon Aug 27, 2012 6:10 pm

I'm surprised a thread hasn't been started about this. NASA's Curiosity rover successfully touched down on Mars a few weeks ago (the spot was named Bradbury Landing, in honor of Ray's vision). It has been returning some amazing visuals ever since. One of the most amazing is here:

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/news/whatsnew/ ... ewsID=1326

Although it could be mistaken for Arizona, it blows the mind to realize you're looking at an alien world. There are a number of other interesting images at the bottom of the page, as well.

This panorama is also amazing: http://gigapan.com/gigapans/113071

and the descent was mentioned on the Armstrong thread:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZX5GRPn ... r_embedded

Lastly, you can 'like' Curiosity on Facebook, and receive pictures and updates as they are released: https://www.facebook.com/MarsCuriosity
JRM
 
Posts: 2625
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:31 am
Location: Woodland Hills, CA

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby lonewolf » Mon Aug 27, 2012 7:43 pm

Fascinating. As a geologist, I did not expect this much information to be visible from a few pictures, which are remarkably good, from a jillion miles away.

The landing area appears to be generally covered with wind erosion derived dust of indeterminable thickness with exposed areas of indurated rock, evidencing stratigraphic cyclothemic water deposits varying in composition and durability.

I could not identify any evidence or post depositional structural distortion in the presumably stratigraphic rocks but there is an interesting unconformity in the distant slope indicating a hiatus in depostion with slight erosion of the underlying layer.

The scattered indurated rocks in the immediate area appear to be of varying composition and origin. Some suggest cobbled water rounding, some are more angular and broken, a few even appear to be as hard as chert or quartzite with conchoidal obsidian-like fractures .

I cannot determine if the topography is geomorphic or geologic. The major features surely have some structual implication but smaller nearby anomalies suggest water erosional origin augmented by high winds.

I could not see any indication of igneous or metamorphic rocks at this location, which does not preclude such elsewhere on this vast planet.

I am confident the smart folks with their scientific instruments will figure it all out. For now, I am more stoked than I expected to be, vindicating sixty years as a geologist.
lonewolf
 
Posts: 8816
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: Indian Territory

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby Daisy » Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:17 pm

lonewolf wrote:I could not see any indication of igneous or metamorphic rocks at this location, which does not preclude such elsewhere on this vast planet.

This is interesting. So what are we seeing then? If it is sedimentary then that would imply some kind of seas or lakes in the past. Or is there something else?
Daisy
 
Posts: 13153
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby lonewolf » Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:47 pm

Daisy wrote:
lonewolf wrote:I could not see any indication of igneous or metamorphic rocks at this location, which does not preclude such elsewhere on this vast planet.
This is interesting. So what are we seeing then? If it is sedimentary then that would imply some kind of seas or lakes in the past. Or is there something else?
Correct. Everything I see suggests water born deposition. Obviously the stratigraphic deposits had to originate from source rocks at higher elevations. The bottom line is, all earth rocks are derived from igneous rocks, stratigraphic being merely the accumulation of fragment from the source rocks, generally by water but also by wind blown deposits which generally lack the layered sequences. Metamorphic rocks are simply igneous or stratigraphic rocks which have been altered by extreme heat and pressure.

Clarification: A wind blown deposit, subsequently submerged and overlain would become a layer in a stratigraphic sequence. That is possibly what we may be seeing in the outcrops.
lonewolf
 
Posts: 8816
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: Indian Territory

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby Daisy » Tue Aug 28, 2012 5:21 am

Lonewolf, check out this new telephoto image they have.

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/m ... 16105.html
Daisy
 
Posts: 13153
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby preston » Tue Aug 28, 2012 6:07 am

All the other planets have a name...but earth is arrogantly named "Earth". If there is life somewhere else, I'm sure someone/thing else has claimed the "earth" name, too (because "earth" should be named something other than "earth"...as if it is the definition of earth/land). I wonder if an intergallactic war will be fought over the name? I'm not sure the Martians have a chance, but somewhere...
preston
 
Posts: 1075
Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2011 1:09 pm

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby Marlow » Tue Aug 28, 2012 6:29 am

preston wrote:All the other planets have a name...but earth is arrogantly named "Earth".

I know that is made in jest, but aren't you being arrogantly Anglo-centric? Just because English-speaking people refer to this planet as 'Earth', doesn't mean its REAL* name isn't something really cool like Qzerklanbia or maybe LR-PX-1092(C).

*United Federation of Planet's nomenclature
Marlow
 
Posts: 21128
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:00 pm
Location: Somewhere over the . . . hill

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby JRM » Tue Aug 28, 2012 7:26 am

preston wrote:All the other planets have a name...but earth is arrogantly named "Earth". If there is life somewhere else, I'm sure someone/thing else has claimed the "earth" name, too (because "earth" should be named something other than "earth"...as if it is the definition of earth/land). I wonder if an intergallactic war will be fought over the name? I'm not sure the Martians have a chance, but somewhere...


Do you argue with your neighbor about which of you lives in "my house"?
JRM
 
Posts: 2625
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:31 am
Location: Woodland Hills, CA

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby jeremyp » Tue Aug 28, 2012 8:01 am

While it is a remarkable engineering and scientific achievement I always have to ask: what's in it for us? How will the exploration of a dead planet help us? I think we landed on the Moon because it was there and close by, and then abandoned it. I'm not being a grouch, but I do wonder about the end game here. Are we seeking knowledge for knowledge's sake?
jeremyp
 
Posts: 4543
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: Florida

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby preston » Tue Aug 28, 2012 8:23 am

JRM wrote:
preston wrote:All the other planets have a name...but earth is arrogantly named "Earth". If there is life somewhere else, I'm sure someone/thing else has claimed the "earth" name, too (because "earth" should be named something other than "earth"...as if it is the definition of earth/land). I wonder if an intergallactic war will be fought over the name? I'm not sure the Martians have a chance, but somewhere...


Do you argue with your neighbor about which of you lives in "my house"?

Well at least you understand my point (which is in merely a curiosity, not meant to take away from the thread ...). A pet peeve of mine is when people speak of their OWN parents and say "mom said" or "Dad said" instead of "my mom said" or "my dad said". If we don't share the same parents then they shouldn't say "mom said". So your "my house" example wouldn't fit for me and it's not what I'm talking about (though I do understand your point; to each planet's inhabitant...it is "my house".

...I mean shouldn't "earth" be named "Andros" or "humana" or if I were Gary Larsson "Ultimately Doomed" or something with a nickname of "earth" because otherwise it is [western civ] homo-centric ("man", Marlow...anglo-centric...totally different meaning; almost all languages refer to "earth" as the definitive word for soil, though languages with characters (Japanese, etc) make a distinction. Which of course it would be if you were the only members of the universe. Which WOULD be considered arrogant if there are others out there.)

Anyway, just a question and the pictures and the thoughts they evoke are more interesting than this thread diversion, imo. Carry on.
preston
 
Posts: 1075
Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2011 1:09 pm

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby Daisy » Tue Aug 28, 2012 9:15 am

preston wrote:...I mean shouldn't "earth" be named "Andros" or "humana" or if I were Gary Larsson "Ultimately Doomed"

How about Bactosphere?

jeremyp wrote:Are we seeking knowledge for knowledge's sake?

Personally, I would agree that we are. But the upside is that many of the greatest discoveries came from the least expected places. Casting a broad net is never a bad plan, in my opinion.
Daisy
 
Posts: 13153
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby kuha » Tue Aug 28, 2012 9:44 am

Back to the point of this thread, this expedition is really remarkable. Ever since about 1972-ish, I've been totally gung-ho on the unmanned NASA program--which produces vastly more knowledge than the manned missions and at a tiny fraction of the price. Sadly, the manned space program peaked in 1969 and has dwindled ever since. But, yes, the unmanned program is immensely important and should be continued and even expanded.
kuha
 
Posts: 9035
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: 3rd row, on the finish line

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby Pego » Tue Aug 28, 2012 10:27 am

Pictures like these from over 100 million miles away just blow me away.
Pego
 
Posts: 10203
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: beyond help

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby dukehjsteve » Tue Aug 28, 2012 11:36 am

Just imagine the sensation when Curiosity goes over the next hill, and there's an abandoned gas station......
dukehjsteve
 
Posts: 6057
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: Fishers, IN

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby lonewolf » Tue Aug 28, 2012 12:25 pm

Daisy wrote:Lonewolf, check out this new telephoto image they have.

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/m ... 16105.html

The closer view reaffirms, to me, my initial impression that these are shallow lacustrine deposits (shales, sands). I cannot positively identify from the color alone any deep marine deposits (limestones, dolomites, marls) but the thick overhanging ledge on the far ridge is suggestive of a more erosion resistant formation.
If we can locate the source of the rock debris around the Rover we will have more answers and presumably the Rover instruments will determine the composition and type of the rocks.

I am with other posters here in that I don't really know what the end game is.. but the pictures are fascinating.
lonewolf
 
Posts: 8816
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: Indian Territory

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby kuha » Tue Aug 28, 2012 12:50 pm

lonewolf wrote:I am with other posters here in that I don't really know what the end game is..


Really? It is to know the nature of things. A rather honored and venerable human tradition.
kuha
 
Posts: 9035
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: 3rd row, on the finish line

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby JRM » Tue Aug 28, 2012 2:25 pm

kuha wrote:
lonewolf wrote:I am with other posters here in that I don't really know what the end game is..


Really? It is to know the nature of things. A rather honored and venerable human tradition.


I believe the rover is aptly named.
JRM
 
Posts: 2625
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:31 am
Location: Woodland Hills, CA

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby lonewolf » Wed Aug 29, 2012 1:39 pm

The pics are great, the marvelous instruments will gather reams of data, we will learn "something" and develop "something else" in the process of sending Rover to Mars but I return to my dilema.. .. to what practical end?
If it were possible to send humans round trip to Mars, they would only be able to observe close up from inside a bubble what Rover is photographing. The notion of colonizing Mars is even more indefensible... it is a bridge too far.
Even if Mars turns our to be composed of solid gold and it is (theoreticaly) feasible to import it to earth, it would either be prohibitively expensive or so abundant as to be worthless.
Fascinating pics, though..
lonewolf
 
Posts: 8816
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: Indian Territory

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby dukehjsteve » Wed Aug 29, 2012 4:11 pm

Someone help me with 2 stupid questions:

No atmosphere whatsoever, correct ?

What's the temperature range ?
dukehjsteve
 
Posts: 6057
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: Fishers, IN

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby JRM » Wed Aug 29, 2012 6:10 pm

dukehjsteve wrote:Someone help me with 2 stupid questions:

No atmosphere whatsoever, correct ?


No, Mars does have an atmosphere, mostly carbon dioxide, albeit a very thin one.

What's the temperature range ?


Highs of 1F, lows of -161F.

Everything you wanted to know:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_of ... _processes
JRM
 
Posts: 2625
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:31 am
Location: Woodland Hills, CA

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby lonewolf » Wed Aug 29, 2012 10:57 pm

I dunno, equatorial temps -220 to -20 F and a thin lethal atmosphere just don't strike me as rock picking weather. :)
I'l loan you my rock pick and you can have my seat on the shuttle.
lonewolf
 
Posts: 8816
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: Indian Territory

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby Master Po » Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:09 am

Interesting stuff -- appreciate the comments from the scientists here.

So, does it look like they could host the WC or OG? :wink:
Master Po
 
Posts: 2641
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: north coast USA

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby lonewolf » Thu Aug 30, 2012 7:30 am

Master Po wrote:Interesting stuff -- appreciate the comments from the scientists here.

So, does it look like they could host the WC or OG? :wink:



Nope. Aside from the temperature and breathing problems there are not enough hotel rooms. :)
I was on a seismic crew in Northern Alberta circa 1968 when we had an overnight low of -70F. There are some hardy folks up there and life goes on at -20 F but things pretty much grind to a halt at -70 and would get really brittle at -200.
lonewolf
 
Posts: 8816
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: Indian Territory

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby JRM » Thu Aug 30, 2012 7:59 am

lonewolf wrote:
Master Po wrote:So, does it look like they could host the WC or OG? :wink:



Nope. Aside from the temperature and breathing problems there are not enough hotel rooms. :)


Well, it would be a haven for the sprints. They're anaerobic, so no need for oxygen. Negligible drag, low gravity: imagine the possibilities. The surface is already hard and red, too, so maybe it's a natural "fast track."

I was on a seismic crew in Northern Alberta circa 1968 when we had an overnight low of -70F. There are some hardy folks up there and life goes on at -20 F but things pretty much grind to a halt at -70 and would get really brittle at -200.


The worst I've experienced is -40 (C or F, take your pick) with wind on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City, on a nippy February morning. I spent the first years of my life in semi-northern Alberta, however (Edmonton), so maybe it was even lower than that.
JRM
 
Posts: 2625
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:31 am
Location: Woodland Hills, CA

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby lonewolf » Thu Aug 30, 2012 8:22 am

JRM wrote:[The worst I've experienced is -40 (C or F, take your pick) with wind on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City, on a nippy February morning. I spent the first years of my life in semi-northern Alberta, however (Edmonton), so maybe it was even lower than that.

I guess all things are relative, temperature and geography wise. On a balmy 10 F day In April, 1968, with bareheaded kids playing a form of baseball on an empty lot next door, I ran across two sisters working in a cafe in Inuvik, NWT, who said they were southern girls from Fort Smith. As I expressed surprised at encountering two girls from Fort Smith, Arkansas living in the Mackenzie Delta, they enlightened me that they were from Fort Smith, NWT; about a 2000 mile difference.. they were not aware there was a Fort Smith, Arkansas.
And, I had never seen baseball played clockwise.. :)
lonewolf
 
Posts: 8816
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: Indian Territory

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby JRM » Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:27 pm

lonewolf wrote:And, I had never seen baseball played clockwise.. :)


I thought that happens only south of the equator.... or maybe that's just draining water. 8-)
JRM
 
Posts: 2625
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:31 am
Location: Woodland Hills, CA

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby lonewolf » Thu Aug 30, 2012 3:35 pm

JRM wrote:
lonewolf wrote:And, I had never seen baseball played clockwise.. :)


I thought that happens only south of the equator.... or maybe that's just draining water. 8-)

Nope, happens north of the Arctic Circle too.. :)
lonewolf
 
Posts: 8816
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: Indian Territory

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby Conor Dary » Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:42 pm

The Coriolis Force in baseball. Fascinating!
Conor Dary
 
Posts: 6297
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: कनोर दारी in Ronald MacDonald's Home Town, and once a Duck always a Duck.

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby JRM » Tue Oct 09, 2012 12:24 pm

Extra-terrestrial litter?? Curiosity finds strange shiny object on surface!

General consensus is that it is a piece of the Rover that fell off, but other speculation is that it may be the wrapper of a Mars bar... (rim shot).

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/whats ... ewsID=1372
JRM
 
Posts: 2625
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:31 am
Location: Woodland Hills, CA

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby Conor Dary » Tue Oct 09, 2012 1:36 pm

JRM wrote:Extra-terrestrial litter?? Curiosity finds strange shiny object on surface!

General consensus is that it is a piece of the Rover that fell off, but other speculation is that it may be the wrapper of a Mars bar... (rim shot).

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/whats ... ewsID=1372


As long as they don't find a black monolith, I think we will be alright.
Conor Dary
 
Posts: 6297
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: कनोर दारी in Ronald MacDonald's Home Town, and once a Duck always a Duck.

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby JRM » Wed Nov 21, 2012 1:02 pm

Conor Dary wrote:As long as they don't find a black monolith, I think we will be alright.



Maybe, maybe not.... There's something brewing at JPL, to be announced in a couple weeks. Rumor has it to be "one for the history books."

=============
Big News From Mars? Rover Scientists Mum For Now

by Joe Palca

November 20, 2012

Scientists working on NASA's six-wheeled rover on Mars have a problem. But it's a good problem.

They have some exciting new results from one of the rover's instruments. On the one hand, they'd like to tell everybody what they found, but on the other, they have to wait because they want to make sure their results are not just some fluke or error in their instrument.

It's a bind scientists frequently find themselves in, because by their nature, scientists like to share their results. At the same time, they're cautious because no one likes to make a big announcement and then have to say "never mind."

http://www.npr.org/2012/11/20/165513016 ... um-for-now
JRM
 
Posts: 2625
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:31 am
Location: Woodland Hills, CA

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby Marlow » Wed Nov 21, 2012 1:30 pm

JRM wrote:
Conor Dary wrote:As long as they don't find a black monolith, I think we will be alright.

There's something brewing at JPL, to be announced in a couple weeks. Rumor has it to be "one for the history books."


PoL??!!

ET - phone home. :D
Marlow
 
Posts: 21128
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:00 pm
Location: Somewhere over the . . . hill

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby JRM » Thu Nov 29, 2012 3:12 pm

The best surprise is, apparently, no surprise:

Rumors and speculation that there are major new findings from the mission at this early stage are incorrect. The news conference will be an update about first use of the rover's full array of analytical instruments to investigate a drift of sandy soil. One class of substances Curiosity is checking for is organic compounds -- carbon-containing chemicals that can be ingredients for life. At this point in the mission, the instruments on the rover have not detected any definitive evidence of Martian organics.


http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2012-377
JRM
 
Posts: 2625
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:31 am
Location: Woodland Hills, CA

Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

Postby JRM » Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:36 pm

The Red Planet as never seen before: 1 billion pixels! Awesome views -- the next best thing to being there (particularly since we couldn't breathe the atmosphere and would die of hypothermia).

http://mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/interac ... lionpixel/
JRM
 
Posts: 2625
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:31 am
Location: Woodland Hills, CA


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests