Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights


A year of Curiosity

Tue 6 August 2013, 4:33pm
Curiosity view of Mars

Tweet One year ago, after “seven minutes of terror“, Nasa’s Mars Science Laboratory, the 900kg rover Curiosity, landed safely on the Red Planet and was soon taking a look around.   [Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems]  Full image and caption here. This scene combines seven images from the telephoto-lens camera on the right side of the Mast […] more »

“There’s no place like home…”

Wed 24 July 2013, 3:48pm
Cassini image of Earth in Saturn's rings

Tweet I didn’t ‘Wave at Saturn’ on 19 July when the Cassini probe, orbiting the gas giant, was taking a high-definition image of the view back home.  I don’t think it encouraged a proper sense of perspective…  But the resultant image is stunning. [Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute] It’s not the first time Cassini has looked home.  […] more »

“A major difference between the hurricanes is that the one on Saturn is much bigger…”

Wed 1 May 2013, 6:42pm
Cassini - Saturn north pole The Rose

Tweet As I mentioned previously, Saturn doesn’t get the love some of our other gas giants do.  [All hail our friend and lord, Jupiter!  Keeping Ogdy at bay… - Ed]  Indeed… [new link]  But, with the help of Cassini, Saturn does provide some wondrous images.   In some of its first sunlit images of Saturn’s north pole, Cassini has looked […] more »

“comets are like cats: they have tails, and do whatever they want to do”

Tue 1 January 2013, 11:25pm
Comet C/2012 S1 Oct04 2012

Tweet In the BBC’s science news preview of 2013, reporter Jason Palmer highlights a couple of astronomical events worth keeping an eye out for. In mid-February we will get another reminder we live in a (potentially) violent cosmos – asteroid 2012 DA14 will make a harmless but attention-grabbing pass near the Earth, at a distance just a […] more »

“Thrust is engaged, and we are now climbing away from Vesta atop a blue-green pillar of xenon ions”

Thu 30 August 2012, 8:18pm
Dawn image of Vesta 17 July 2011

Tweet Having arrived at the 530km-wide giant asteroid Vesta in July 2011, in May this year Nasa’s Dawn Mission scientists published some of their findings.  Now Dawn’s ready to head out on the next leg of its journey - Destination [the even larger protoplanet (dwarf planet)] Ceres, ETA 2015. From the JPL press release “Thrust is engaged, and we are […] more »

“This is an area on Mount Sharp where Curiosity will go”

Wed 29 August 2012, 7:37pm
Curiosity on Mars: Mount Sharp geology

Tweet More wondrous images from Nasa’s mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the 900kg rover Curiosity, now safely on the Martian surface in Gale Crater.  And it’s only warming up its instruments.  Here’s a panaroma of the landing site and the prime mission target, Mount Sharp. Focusing in on Mount Sharp… [Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS] But the images that […] more »

Curiosity drops in on Mars – in Hi-res

Thu 23 August 2012, 9:50pm

Tweet Nasa’s mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the 900kg rover Curiosity, may have started roving on the surface of Mars, but there’s still room for more stunning video of its descent. In high-resolution.  Audio from mission control can also be heard, counting down the critical events.  Video from JPL News This movie from NASA’s Curiosity […] more »

“Curiosity will soon have a different patch of ground beneath it.”

Wed 22 August 2012, 3:12pm
Curiosity wheel tracks at Bradbury Landing

Tweet Nasa’s mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the 900kg rover Curiosity, may have damaged one of two sets of wind sensors in its Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) during its dramatic landing on Mars, but it will still be providing daily weather reports from the Red Planet. And, as a JPL/Nasa press release noted yesterday – with moving […] more »

Curiosity: “This is a very low-resolution panorama”

Sat 11 August 2012, 4:45pm
Curiosity 360 Colour Panorama Gale Crater

Tweet Having survived the seven minutes of terror, and landed successfully at Gale Crater, earlier this week Nasa’s mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the 900kg rover Curiosity, lifted its 2m high camera mast.  And took a look at itself.  [Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech] Then it took a look at its new surroundings.  In colour. [Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS] […] more »

“Vesta is special”

Sun 13 May 2012, 7:54pm
Dawn image of Vesta 17 July 2011

Tweet Having arrived at the 530km-wide giant asteroid Vesta in July last year, Nasa’s Dawn Mission scientists have published some of their findings in Science magazine.  As the BBC’s spaceman, Jonathan Amos, notes They confirm that Vesta has a layered interior with a metal-rich core, just as Earth, Mars, Venus and Mercury do. Using information […] more »

The Serpent Dust Devil of Mars

Tue 20 March 2012, 7:03pm
The Serpent Dust Devil of Mars

Tweet   [We're not in Kansas anymore! - Ed]  Indeed.  Here’s a great little video from JPLNews on the 800m-tall dust devil they spotted on Mars in this wondrous image acquired, on Feb 16 2012, by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. [Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona] more »

“Opportunity on Mars – 8 years and counting!”

Wed 25 January 2012, 7:54pm
Opportunity's Eighth Anniversary View From 'Greeley Haven'

Tweet Nasa’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity landed in Eagle Crater on Mars on Jan. 25, 2004, Universal Time, three weeks after its rover twin, Spirit, had landed halfway around the planet.  Opportunity completed its three-month prime mission in April that year, everything else has been bonus, extended missions.  Spirit is no longer with us.  But Opportunity […] more »

Sleigh Ride over the Red Planet

Thu 22 December 2011, 3:19pm

Tweet A short seasonal diversion from JPLnews, using images of the real landscapes of Mars taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.   more »

Curiosity heads to Mars

Sat 26 November 2011, 6:14pm

Tweet Nasa’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) successfully launched from the Kennedy Space Centre earlier today on an Atlas 5 rocket at the start of its eight and a half month journey to Mars.  With its massive 900kg rover, Curiosity, it’s being billed as “the biggest and best Mars mission yet.” Mike Meyer is the lead scientist on Nasa’s Mars exploration […] more »

Chaos on Europa

Thu 17 November 2011, 4:40pm
Europa pictured by Nasa's Galileo probe

Tweet And that could be a good thing. [Image credit: Nasa/JPL. Image reprocessed by Ted Stryk].  As a BBC report notes, Nasa scientists have published their latest thinking on the chaos terrains of Jovian satellite Europa. [All hail our friend and lord, Jupiter! - Ed] *ahem*.  It suggests that the “chaos terrains form above liquid water lenses […] more »

“An aircraft carrier-sized asteroid will make a safe, close flyby of Earth…”

Tue 8 November 2011, 3:03pm
Radar image of asteroid 2005 YU55

Tweet If the calculations are correct, the 400m-wide asteroid 2005 YU55 will make a safe, close flyby of Earth at around half past eleven tonight (11.28pm GMT).  [If?! - Ed]  If not, we’ll have a wondrous new scar to boast about!  Radar image of asteroid 2005 YU55 obtained on Nov. 7, 2011, at 11:45 a.m. PST (2:45 […] more »

“this is probably the biggest known asteroid to have come this close.”

Mon 27 June 2011, 5:35pm
Asteroid 2011MD path with Moon orbit

Tweet As spotted by SpaceWeather.  At about 1700 UT (6pm BST) today Asteroid 2011MD will fly past only 12,300 kilometers (7,600 miles) above the Earth’s surface.  [Image credit NASA/JPL] As the diagram shows, that’s close enough to be affected by Earth’s gravity. This small asteroid, only 5-20 meters in diameter, is in a very Earth-like orbit about […] more »

Blue sunset on Mars

Fri 24 December 2010, 2:50pm

Tweet Using a clip from NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, which NASAtelevision has online, here’s a short seasonal treat from JPLnews.  Accelerating about 17 minutes of sunset on Nov. 4 and 5, 2010, into a 30 second simulation it’s the longest sunset movie from Mars ever produced.  There’s also a clip of Phobos partially eclipsing […] more »

Comet Hartley 2 Flyby – “Just spectacular”

Sat 6 November 2010, 3:28pm
Comet Hartley2

Tweet Here’s a wondrous short video of the recent flyby of Comet Hartley 2 by the Nasa/JPL EPOXI Mission using 40 images taken from Deep Impact’s Medium-Resolution Instrument during the encounter. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD/Brown University. And the EPOXI Mission scientists present their preliminary findings at a press conference.  Video via NASAtelevision. more »

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