by Cat Ellen, contributing writer

Lasers and Sparks

On Mars this week, NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover used lasers to examine the makeup of an interesting rock. Sparks flew and the flashes in the photos were combined into a video of the experience. Scientists have named the iron meteroite “Lebanon,” which is similar to meteorites found by the earlier rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. Iron meteorites outnumber the stony meteorites so far on Mars, possibly because of resistance to erosion on Mars.

“This is so exciting! The ChemCam laser has fired more than 150,000 times on Mars, but this is the first time we see the plasma plume that is created,” said ChemCam Deputy Principal Investigator Sylvestre Maurice, at the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology, of France’s National Center for Scientific Research and the University of Toulouse, France. “Each time the laser hits a target, the plasma light is caught and analyzed by ChemCam’s spectrometers. What the new images add is confirmation that the size and shape of the spark are what we anticipated under Martian conditions.”


#NextGiantLeap and Morgan Freeman

Maybe Morgan Freeman wasn’t on Mars, but he was definitely at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) talking about when we will be going to Mars. It was standing room only at JPL for the #Apollo45 event as Morgan Freeman discussed the #NextGiantLeap — taking mankind on the #PathToMars, even if it’s a one-way trip. In light of all the reflections of #Apollo45, for many people it’s not enough to remember landing on the moon forty-five years ago, but it’s time to think about taking people to Mars.

See Science on Demand: with #NextGiantLeap with Morgan Freeman and Astronaut Reid Wiseman @astro_reid Video recorded (about 50 minutes): http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/50241043


Marking 45 Years Since Apollo 11

Speaking of Apollo, there’s still time to check out the “live tweeting” of #Apollo11 — @LizSuckow works with NASA Archives and has been posting the entire Apollo 11 event as if she were tweeting forty-five years ago, complete with photos and tv broadcasts from the mission.

For more events still coming up to honor the First Human Moon Landing, check out NASA’s schedule of events on NASA TV Sunday, July 20 through Thursday, July 24, including a panel at San Diego Comic-Con.

Mapping Mars

The U.S. Geological Survey has teamed up with ASU and they have created the most detailed global map yet of the surface of Mars. The various maps have combine data from thermal imaging plus visual and infrared cameras on NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter.


Want More?

  • Mars Exploration Program
  • Twitter: @MarsRovers, Spirit and Oppy
  • Twitter: @MarsCuriosity
  • Facebook: NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover
  • Twitter: @NASAJPL


Cat Ellen
Cat Ellen

Cat Ellen is a technical writer by trade, an occasional copy editor
and beta reader, and has a passion for teaching ATS bellydance and
numerous textile arts, notably drop spindle and card weaving.

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