SCIENCE ON THE WING

Promoting Science and Science Education

Calibration Targets

I’ve seen them referred to as “eyeshadow”, “paint” and “whatever those are” but in truth,  they are an important part of the Mars Science Laboratory’s science mission: calibration targets.

One of the cal targets onboard Curiosity; the colored targets are doped silicone rubber                     photo credit: NASA/JPL

In the shake, rattle and roll of liftoff, flight and, in the case of Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory, seven minutes of terror as it falls to the planet’s surface, things can shake loose, degrade over time or stop working altogether.  Calibration activities remain the best way to assure data collected are correct.

When conducting science remotely, it’s important that scientists are sure of what they are looking at and of various findings they make.  In other words it’s one the ways scientists can say “how we know what we know”.  The best way to achieve this is by including a well-known and characterized source to check your data against.  These  are referred to as calibration targets or cal targets.

There are many types of cal targets and infinite uses for them from calibrating the white balance on your digital SLR camera to telling a spacecraft light-years away that indeed, what it is looking at is white or, it is blue not white or that the chemical signature we are seeing is cadmium, which shows up as a particular color in the spectrum.

Whatever the composition of the target, the process is the same; a reading is taken from the cal target, from the subject and often from a third source.  The readings from each of the sources are compared against each other and if they are in agreement, the instrument is correctly calibrated.  If there is disagreement, data from each source is analysed to determine the location of the error.

Pondering My Belly

I iz checking out my BELLY! Curiosity checks out her belly pan. Result = A-OK good for go.

Although it may seem inconsequential, it’s very important for Curiosity to methodically go through all of her vital systems prior to embarking on the journey of her lifetime.  A hole in her belly pan or a small piece of gravel wedged into a joint could spell disaster for a Rover.

Pondering my belly

Pondering my belly. What?!! No navel?                     photo credit: NASA/JPL

What’s happening?!!

Here’s hoping that you all can survive the laborious process of me moving content over to the SOTW page.  There will be duplicates of things you’ve already read however, I am building up to new and current content.  For now, thanks for hanging in there and I hope to wow you with content as time goes on.

Third Rock ON!       Ms. Winger

Rover Family Portrait

And the crowd goes wild…

We’re watching as people all around the world cheer on the Rover that could!  The energy is palpable as we stop to wait for the OK, a signal that tells us Curiosity is on the surface and ON.

What we didn’t expect was to see images!  Staring at the big screens, the question in the air was “what’s that?” followed by a cheer that broke like a wave as we realized it was an image Curiosity was sending back from Mars.

 

photo credit: JPL

 

Curiosity LIVES!

Having spent a portion of the afternoon volunteering at Planetfest, the Planetary Society’s exhibition and lecture event, we hunkered down to watch MSL make it’s descent.

Here’s NASA’s quick look at “Fast Facts” on the Curiosity Rover:

Mission name: Mars Science Laboratory

Rover name: Curiosity rover

Size: About the size of a small SUV — 10 feet long (not including the arm), 9 feet wide and 7 feet tall — (about 3 meters long (not including the arm), 2.7 meters wide, and 2.2 meters tall), or about the height of a basketball player.

Arm Reach: About 7 feet (2.2 meters)

Weight: 900 kilograms (2,000 pounds)

Features: Geology lab, rocker-bogie suspension, rock-vaporizing laser and lots of cameras

Mission: To search areas of Mars for past or present conditions favorable for life, and conditions capable of preserving a record of life

Launched:
7:02 a.m. PST, Nov. 26, 2011
(10:02 a.m. EST)

Landed:
10:32 p.m. PDT, Aug. 5, 2012
(1:32 a.m. EDT, Aug. 6, 2012)

Length of mission on Mars: The prime mission will last one Mars year or about 23 Earth months.

Follow Your Curiosity:
Participate

Mission Fact sheet: Download theMars Science Laboratory Fact Sheet (PDF, 562 KB)

Seven Minutes of Terror

A great look at what needs to go exactly as planned in order for the MSL to survive its descent and landing to complete it’s mission.

http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/news/space-technology-news/mars-curiosity-rover-vin/

Mars View Of Earth

Earth as seen from Mars                        photo credit unavailable

Have you ever wondered what we look like from the Red Planet?  Imagine, standing on the rust covered surface of Mars and waiting for the Earth to rise; this is what you’d see.

notes from a dog walker

stories from the sidewalk

dogsinneedofspace.wordpress.com/

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Promoting Science and Science Education

Promoting Science and Science Education

SCIENCE ON THE WING

Promoting Science and Science Education