Saturday, August 11, 2012


Feeling motivated and yet a little flustered right now.  Today is a good day for poetry.  Enjoy:

by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head,
When all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat these two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: `Hold on!'
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

MSL ChemCam

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

It has been an exciting few days for the Mars Science Laboratory team.  Ever since the successful landing of the Curiosity rover at the beginning of this week, there has been a constant stream of information regarding the mission.  Daily press conferences, consistent updates on social media websites, and, for a touch of fun, a barrage of edited images with MSL (such as Curiosity killing cats or Marvin the Martian investigating the over) have kept most of us space nerds pretty busy with our fanaticizing about the mission.

I honestly was one of those people who was a bit worried about the EDL system.  The sky crane was a complex feat of engineering; the fact that it worked is not only amazing but also humbling.  One thing I was not worried about was the awesomeness of the mission if the rover landed safely and operated as planned.  Today's article on Astrobiology Magazine discusses the ChemCam instrument on Curiosity (Astrobiology Magazine Thursday, Aug. 9th).  This is one instrument that I've been totally excited for.  ChemCam will vaporize rock targets up to 7 meters away with a pulsed laser and then will analyze the chemical signatures given off by elements within the rock when their electrons are excited by the laser and then re-emit the light, which a telescopic camera on the instrument can detect.  I know, super awesome!  This instrument is one nerd dream come true.  The rover can get around and use instrumentation on-board to analyze it's local surroundings, but ChemCam will allow for spectroscopic analyses from several meters away!  Superb!  I can feel the nerd in me salivating just thinking about it.

For more info, check out the ChemCam instrument's homepage: ChemCam