Life on Mars…..?

Honestly, we just don’t know. Apparently the basis of most of our belief in the lack of life on Mars might be bad data. The Viking Mars Mission from 30 years ago flew close enough to Mars to see if it could remotely detect signs of life. Apparently scientists have reproduced the technology the Viking mission used and tested it in remote regions of Earth. Their findings show that Viking wouldn’t have found life on Earth using the technology it employs in similar climate regions when clearly there is life on Earth in those regions. Does that mean there is life on Mars? Nope, not necessarily. All we can say is that the Viking Mission employed techniques that wouldn’t have found signs if there were any life on Mars. Hopefully the 2009 mission will help decide once and for all this age old question.

Amazing panorama images of Saturn and its rings from Cassini spacecraft

SaturnYeah, these are some of the coolest space images I’ve ever seen! The panoramic view of Saturn and its rings was created by combining a total of 165 images taken by the Cassini spacecraft’s wide-angle camera over nearly three hours on Sept. 15, 2006. Links to images are on the left side of the webpage, and they are just amazing.

From the website: “The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The imaging team consists of scientists from the US, England, France, and Germany. The imaging operations center and team lead (Dr. C. Porco) are based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.”

For more info on Cassini, check out the mission website

A Little Closure….

A couple of three weeks back I blogged a story (and we had it in the podcast) about the orginal Apollo Moon landing video being lost. Apparently it wasn’t just that landing, but all of them which were lost. Turn out, the Germans had it all along! Unforunately, it isn’t a complete set – they only have complete video from Apollo 15 on. The orginal moon landing, which was Apollo 11, is only in audio format in their collection.

So the seach continues…

1969 Moon Images Could Have Been Better

Wow, TV sucks. Apparently the live broadcast moon videos from the 1969 landing were actually much better than we’ve ever realized. The camera used to film the footage wasn’t capatible with TV specifications and had to be downgraded to be put on the air. How’d they do that, you ask? Easy! They pointed a normal camera at the TV screen showing the high-res images and broadcast THAT image to the world.

I guess data conversion has always been a problem, huh?

Build a better NASA?

Seed magazine has an interesting editorial about building a better NASA. The crux of the article is that NASA has gotten off of its prime mission and needs to refocus its resources. The exteremly relevant quote to GIS users is this little part: “The truth is that post-Apollo NASA is overextended to the point that everything that takes place above the exosphere must ride the agency’s back. Climate data, atmospheric research—when did geoscience become part of NASA’s job? Last time I checked, it wasn’t called NASGA.”

The editorial raises some intersting points…. which, conveniently enough, can be discussed in length on our brand new Very Spatial Weekly Discussion topic! Yes, the shameless plugs will continue for awhile 🙂

Discovery lands safely

Just checked out CNN and the space shuttle Discovery landed safely at Kennedy Space Center in Florida a little while ago. I’m still a fan of the shuttle program, so it’s nice to see it hopefully back on track.

Serenity Movie Charity Screenings

Ok, technically not geography, but it’s been awhile since we’ve blogged anything about Joss Whedon’s Firefly universe, so I am remedying that now.

Serenity fans have set up a worldwide series of screenings (47 at last count) of the Firefly-based movie Serenity to benefit the charity Equality Now, which will take place between June 22-30th. So, if you’re a diehard Firefly/Serenity fan, and want another chance to see the movie on the big screen, look for a screening in your area. Can’t Stop the Signal!

Via SciFiWire

Rocket Science 101 from NASA

As we all know, rockets are what launch the remote sensing satellites that many of us depend on for our geospatial data into orbit. So, while not strictly geography-related, rocket science is still essential and now NASA is giving everyone a chance to be a rocket scientist with their Rocket Science 101 website. You can design your own Altas V or Delta II rocket, and learn all about what makes these amazing machines fly. I have already killed about a half hour building my own Atlas V, and learning all about payload fairing and other incredible exciting things about rockets.

Via Tech_Space