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Gogblogcast #4: Sample Analysis at Mars Open House: getting to know you, getting to know all about you. . .

November 24, 2010 Leave a comment


Download a transcript of this video.


The Goddard community began the process of saying good-bye to the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument with an open house event. SAM will soon be off to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, to be installed on the Mars Science Laboratory rover “Curiosity.” If all goes according to plan, the Mini Cooper-sized robot will blast off to Mars in 2011 and land in August 2012.

SAM contains a suite of three instruments that will search for compounds of the element carbon, including methane, that are associated with life and explore ways in which they are generated and destroyed on Mars. The instruments, developed by an international team, all came together at Goddard and underwent rigorous testing. Goddard people will play a key role in operating and supporting SAM when it reaches the Red Planet and starts roving.

So long, SAM! Safe journey.

Pan Conrad, SAM Deputy Principal Investigator, gives an overview of the Curiosity rover and the SAM instrument suite.

Pan Conrad, SAM Deputy Principal Investigator, gives an overview of the Curiosity rover.


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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.

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Dr. Garvin's Solar System Picture Show

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Hey kids — got a science report due on the solar system? Do I have a video for you: a guided tour of the inner rocky planets by Goddard’s James Garvin.

Chief Scientist of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Dr. Jim Garvin, takes us on a journey of Earth, the moon, and our neighboring planets. Why does space matter? Why is exploring the inner solar system so crucial? Where will humans venture to next? In this video lecture, Dr. Garvin answers these questions and discusses NASA’s past, present, and future of discovery on our nearest neighbors in the solar system.

Click the image above to see the entire 55-minute presentation on Blip TV. This version, compressed to play in a continues clip, is a little grainy. That short-changes you a bit on the fantastic computer simulations and images packed into Garvin’s talk. You have the option of watching the presentation in six higher-resolution YouTube clips (below). Or you could download the high-res files from Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio site.

Garvin covers Mercury, Venus, the moon, asteroids, Earth (a wee bit), and then Mars (quite a bit). He covers the detailed history of what we’ve done and what we still want to do. Garvin scores big points with his enormous energy and enthusiasm, deep knowledge of the subject (he’s a planetary scientist), and a humorous touch.

Check it out if you want an update from the bleeding edge of NASA planetary science from a true insider. It’s watchable and packed with interesting science/tech tidbits.

If you have a fast Internet connection, set the video segments below to play back at 720p for the maximum High Def data blast.


http://www.youtube.com/v/ePffS0N_HZk?fs=1&hl=en_US


http://www.youtube.com/v/-dQ2YYrE8yI?fs=1&hl=en_US


http://www.youtube.com/v/hXE2rEodGEA?fs=1&hl=en_US


http://www.youtube.com/v/0VsbXLVr2P0?fs=1&hl=en_US


http://www.youtube.com/v/znx77MdPTxg?fs=1&hl=en_US


http://www.youtube.com/v/mHbFFv1Pq5c?fs=1&hl=en_US

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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.

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That Was The Week That Was, August 22-27, 2010. . . A Digest of Goddard People, Science, & Media, PLUS Historical Tidbits and Our Best Stuff in the Blogpodcastotwittersphere

SUNDAY AUGUST 22: Ray Bradbury, author of The Martian Chronicles and other classics, was born this day 100 years ago in Waukegan, Illinois.

The rockets came like drums, beating in the night. The rockets came like locusts, swarming and settling in blooms of rosy smoke. And from the rockets ran men with hammers in their hands to beat the strange world into a shape that was familiar to the eye, to bludgeon away all the strangeness, their mouths fringed with nails so they resembled steel-toothed carnivores, spitting them into their swift hands as they hammered up frame cottages and scuttled over roofs with shingles to blot out the eerie stars, and fit green shades to pull against the night.


MONDAY AUGUST 23: The MODIS Image of the Day shows a plankton bloom off Greenland.

Planet pulverizers: A research team including Goddard’s Marc Kuchner finds evidence of planet-destroying collisions in another star system!

Dog days of summer: On What On Earth, bloggers Patrick Lynch and Adam Voiland of NASA’s Earth Science News Team discuss the warm and erratic summer weather.

Better luck next time: On this day in 1961, Ranger 1 launched. When the experimental satellite separated from its Agena booster stage it went into a low Earth orbit and began tumbling. The satellite re-entered Earth’s atmosphere a week later, on August 30, 1961

Awesomely: Featured in Blueshift’s Weekly Awesomeness Round Up: solar sail, sunspots, special shuttle launch, space colonies, and other highlights in space science and astronomy.


satellite image of hurricane katrina

TUESDAY AUGUST 24: Goddard marks the 5-year anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe:  The Scientific Visualization Studio provides a satellite-eye view of the tempest. See a Katrina Flickr gallery by Public Affairs photo maven Rebecca Roth. Meanwhile, gogblog asks Goddard researcher Siegfried Schubert how supercomputers are improving hurricane forecasting. And Discovery News blogger Michael Reilly comments on the Goddard satellite visualization about Katrina.

This year’s model: Here’s how to build a life-size mock-up of the James Webb Space Telescope.


photo of launch of spitzer space telescopeWEDNESDAY AUGUST 25: Satellite imagery featured today: dust storms in Afghanistan and Pakistan and how satellites can help archeologists preserve hidden cultural treasures.

Koji says: Take a tour of the international observatory on the island of La Palma with NASA Blueshift blogger Koji Mukai.

Hail to the chief. . . of the Goddard Astrochemistry Laboratory, Jason Dworkin, in a new video profile.

Go Spitzer! On this day in 2003, the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF) launched into orbit. One of the quartet of NASA Great Observatories, SIRTF was renamed the Spitzer Space Telescope and continues to push the frontiers of space-based astronomy.


robonaut_202THURSDAY AUGUST 26: Earth Observatory spotlights satellite view of fires raging in South America.

FRIDAY AUGUST 27: On this day in 1962, Mariner 2 left for Venus, to become the first spaceship from Earth to visit another planet.

Space rocks: NASA and U2 released a commemorative video highlighting a year’s worth of collaboration in space and on the Irish rock band’s 360 Degree tour.

I, Robonaut! NASA’s humanoid astronaut buddy is being prepared for its history making launch to the International Space Station on STS-133.

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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.

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Today In NASA History: Apollo Puts Bootprints On The Moon and A Viking Invades the Red Planet For All Humankind

July 20, 2010 8 comments
Viking's Mars

Viking's Mars

It’s July 20, and on this day in 1969 the Apollo 11 astronauts put boots on the moon. This same day in 1976, the first of two Viking Landers thumped down on the Red Planet.

I’ve detected two distinct groups here at Goddard: the Apollo people and the Viking people. Some imaginations caught fire in the 60s with Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo and those daring young men with the right stuff. Others were awestruck in the 70s with the first images of the rusty plains of Mars.

Apollo 17's Moon

Apollo 17's Moon

Apollo and Viking: these are the reasons why some of us are here, either making science or explaining it. Whether data logging or science blogging, we owe it to historic missions like Apollo and Viking that inspired the world with their demonstrations of the best that our clever little primate brains could create.

Apollo or Viking: It’s not a matter of taste, as in “Beatles or Rolling Stones?” It’s generational. It’s about how old you were when the respective spacecraft — the Eagle (on the moon) and Viking 1 (on Mars) — touched down.

Older than me? Probably an Apollo. About my age — a Viking. Perhaps some of the summer high school interns scurrying around the Goddard campus at the moment will someday blog about how they were members of the “space station generation.” Or the “shuttle kids.”

mars panorama 2_608

mars color 1_152

First color image

I was just reaching high school age when those magnificent panoramas of Chryse Planitia filled TV screens, scan line by scan line. It was a new world, and one spookily like our own. Sorry Apollo tribe, we’ve got you on that one!

On the other hand, the Apollos beat the Vikings for the simplicity, drama, and grateful beauty of these words, spoken in typical cowboy-astronaut understatement by Neil Armstrong: “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

To be sure, the engineers who landed two half-ton contraptions on the surface of Mars were heroes. But not Neil Armstrong heroes. We didn’t believe in heroes anymore in the 70s, did we?

A windswept, arid landscape on another planet: Chryse Planitia. A flood plain at 23 degrees north latitude. There was something at once poetic, melancholy, and ineffable about that scene — something that was, and remains, difficult to compose into words.

Princess_of_Mars_152It wasn’t the schoolboy and schoolgirl Mars dreamt of by anyone who read Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars.

(If you are remotely interested in what this particular schoolboy was dreaming about Mars while reading Edgar Rice Burroughs, don’t miss the trailer for the 2009 B-movie A Princess of Mars.)

The real Mars didn’t have four-armed warriors, dinosaurlike beasts of burden, or sun-dappled canals. But Viking made me a marsaholic for life.

How about you? Apollo or Viking? Space Station or Shuttle? Where were YOU when the boots crunched the lunar dust, or when the pie-plate pads of Viking thumped the Red Planet?

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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.


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