Solar Eclipse on Mars
This sort of eclipse, where the nearer body doesn’t quite cover the sun, is called an annular eclipse, after the Latin word for “ring-shaped”.
These sort of annular astronomical coincidences happen on Earth, too, since our distance from the moon changes throughout each body’s elliptical orbit. Beautiful stuff:
Curiosity is becoming quite the skywatcher. Last month it aimed its camera up and captured Mars’ two moons in one shot!
NASA Releases Panoramic View of Mars! Warning: Contains billions and billions of pixels
A new interactive panorama of the Martian surface has just been released by NASA/JPL, and it’s just as cool as you’d expect. This massive view of the red planet is zoomable down to an incredible level of detail. Everything from the landing site to its eventual destination at Mt. Sharp is there in iron oxide-hued glory.
I’ve included a few of my favorite views above. First, an L-shaped sequence of frickin’ laser beam scars left over from the mast-mounted ChemCam (pew pew science!) Next, some notably shiny rocks, their silver surface made visible through the rusty dust. Finally, “J-P-L” written in morse code thanks to the code drilled into Curiosity’s wheels.
You can go here to explore a few different interactive versions, but I’ve embedded my favorite below (click through to view, Tumblr Dashboard viewers). THIS IS AWESOME.
(Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Malin Space Science Systems)
NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has apparently made a discovery “for the history books,” but we’ll have to wait a few weeks to find out what the new Red Planet find may be, media reports suggest.
What could it be? This is going to be on our minds constantly now!
Curiosity About Curiosity Killed the Blogger
I wasn’t going to post this because I don’t want to build up hype and hype is baaaaaad, m’kaaaay? Hype is what happens when a research scientist makes an off-handed remark in an interview about some exciting but unverified data, and then the People Who Choose Quotes™ print it everywhere and then the scientist is all “Oh, brother, what have I done?" and tries to backpedal … but it’s too late, man, you can’t unfire the gun!!!
Of course I can’t resist posting it, because the suspense is just too much to bear!!! Why must you toy with my emotions, Curiosity?!
Inquiring minds are out there asking (I can hear them, trust me) “Hey, Joe! What might this be?" My educated guess is that it’s some interesting, possibly biological, organic molecule like methane, or maybe even something more complicated, in a soil sample. Martian meteorites on Earth have been known to contain organics before, so that alone wouldn’t be enough. It has to be something particularly biological to be big.
It probably won’t give us any definitive answers on the “life” question, but will prove that in once-watery Gale Crater, some things were made that could also be made by life (but not necessarily only by life). If I am wrong in a couple weeks, please forget this post. If I am right, then high-fives line up to the right.