Tag Archives: Mars

T-Minus Six Months

6 Feb

… Mars Science Laboratory, MSL, is scheduled to land on August 5th!

Via NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/index.html

I was going to be glib and convert that 1/2 Earth year into Martian years, but it turns out (as it usually does) that things are complicated. I came up with 0.266 Martian years, but don’t quote me on that. After all, I’m not even 12 Martian years old, according to this Nerdiversary calculator. On the other hand, I’m 92 Mercurial years old….

Good luck, MSL and team! The best is yet to come!

MSL launch. Godspeed? I will not rest until "Science speed!" catches on. Considering how clunky and unpoetic it sounds, I will probably never rest.

Timing

5 Aug

I love when NASA announces that they will be making an announcement. The end result is always a day or so of predictable emotional tumult:  wild-eyed hope (“Aliens? It’s probably aliens. No, can’t be. A manned Mars mission, then? Must be.”), followed by self-deprecating mockery of that selfsame hope (sarcastic tweets along the lines of “Tomorrow, we leave for Mars.”), then bargaining (“Well, it could be liquid water, couldn’t it? Oh please let it be liquid water, I’d be okay with it not being a manned mission as long as it was water.”), waiting and speculating (“Geologists, eh? That’s got to mean liquid water…  Or maybe like, lichen? Just because they don’t have a biologist there right now doesn’t mean it’s not lichen….  Well, yes it does.”), and finally acceptance (Decent evidence for liquid water.)

Needless to say, I’m pretty excited about this. I believe I’m on the record as saying that Elon Musk is going to fly us to Mars and everything will be fine, la la la (most recently in response to either excessive and ultimately unnecessary GRE studying or perhaps the debt thing).  But I’m also really happy that the announcement happened precisely when it did.

Have you ever found something at exactly at the right moment in your life? I don’t mean the right year, the right season–I mean the right minute of the right day. For instance, I’ve never read any Virginia Woolf. Whether or not this makes me a sad excuse for an English major is up to you. Way back in May, I borrowed my brother’s copy of Mrs. Dalloway (apparently added to our high school’s curriculum after my departure). Then I was distracted by reading all of A Song of Ice and Fire, and there was something else in there, too….

Oh, right. That.

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“I don’t think he’s even noticed she has a brain”

28 Jun

Fair warning:  this is a blog post about science, geekiness, and feminism.

Right now, I’m listening to Lori Garver and Mike Massimino talk about the future of NASA.  Someone asked the question that I ask myself daily:  “Will there be a manned mission to Mars in my lifetime?”  Not only did Lori Garver answer yes, but she added (and I’m paraphrasing slightly), “Not just a manned mission, but also some astronauts of the female persuasion.”

Unfortunately, only men walked on the Moon.  That made me think:  until the last few years, I never had many female role models.  To be fair, until the last few years, all my role models tended to be dead white males.  Tolkien.  Nabokov.  Faulkner.  Thoreau.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with any of the above.)  I guess, in a pinch, I could have said Jane Austen, but she’s hardly a paragon of female empowerment for the 21st century.

My sudden acquisition of female role models coincides precisely with my approximately 3-year-old love of science.  First it was Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and then Carolyn Porco, whose Cassini images helped me survive 2009.

Saturn is pretty much the coolest. Sorry, Earth.

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