Mars Attacked

WOW! That is my reaction to the talks this morning at DPS2005. They were all about Mars. It is currently morning tea/coffee time but I'm still having trouble connecting to the Internet so this will be posted later (lunchtime).

The first talk was an historical introduction to monitoring of dust storms - both local and global - on Mars. The speaker showed a series of drawings taken over the last few hundred years stretching back to drawings by Cassini (I think) in 1666. The speaker even threw in some controversy at the end (deliberately) by suggesting that the last 100 years of observations of Mars show that global dust activity is not related to an increase in the Sun's output. The controversy is in the fact that this may demonstrate that the Sun is not that big a contribution to our own global warming.

The second talk was by Steve Squyres - works with the NASA Mars rovers - and was fantastic. He is a great speaker and I reckon he would do a superb public lecture. Word has it that he has been on tour recently. I'm sure he could make any reluctant tax-payer decide that planetary science is important to fund! Anyway, to the science. He mainly focussed on the Spirit rover, as it has been doing loads of great geology. It has identified about six classes of rock type, which have all been named after the first sample they were discovered on. They show different chemical compositions and different structures. Working out how they formed should tell us a lot about the history of the areas in which the rovers are exploring.

Steve showed us beautiful pictures from the summit of Husband Hill and the journey there on the big screen. We also saw gigantic panoramas from inside Gusev crater taken by Opportunity. Amazing! He even joked that there is so much data that his team haven't got a chance to analyse it all. He pointed out that a lot of this data is now in the archives so others can help out.

Following that was a talk about ESA's Mars Express. The guy giving the presentation had so much to get through that it was a veritible race to the finish. The chairman kept trying to get him to stop but he just kept going. You could tell that he wanted to tell us everything.

Anyway, I'll stop there because I am now going to the next session.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Tuesday 06th Sep 2005 (12:56 UTC) | Permalink
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