Sunday, December 18, 2011

Another Good Omen?

The launch plume from MSL's Atlas-V. The input of water vapor into the normally dry mesosphere (at altitudes of around 80km) causes very high ice-water clouds known as "noctilucent" clouds to form. We contemplate the shapes we see in the sky and like the ancient Romans, trying to read auspices, we hope to glean the relevance to our own future of such ephemeral and changing patterns.

On the morning of November 26, as we were boarding our busses to head to the MSL Launch viewing area near the VAB, the brilliant sunrise lit up the light, misty rain we had passed through on the causeway over towards cape canaveral. The refraction through the particles generated a vivid rainbow which seemed to touch the ground in the general direction of pad 41, where the Atlas-V rocket that MSL would ride on its way to Mars was being prepared for departure. We took it as a good omen, and a few hours later, everything went right with the launch.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Meet the Team

My UWO MSL Team. From left to right we are Raymond Francis, Emily McCullough and John Moores. David Choi is not shown, but you can take a look at him below.
Photo credit: Mitch Zimmer.

As of last Wednesday I can say that I am a Participating Scientist on the Mars Science Laboratory Mission. That mission launched successfully last Saturday and we're now on our way to Mars. In the meantime, we have work to do. There are models to test, training for operations to complete and data reducing software to write. I won't pretend that I can get this all done by myself in the next eight months. Luckily, I don't have to. I've got a great team behind me and I wanted to help to shine a spotlight on them and what we hope to accomplish together - they deserve it!