Get Your Daily Dose of Discovery: Seeing the Solar System Through Distant Eyes

Cassini image of the rings of Saturn with three moons. Image: NASA/JPL/Caltech

There are spacecraft and rovers at work right this moment collecting data on planets, moons and other solar system bodies.   These sophisticated instruments are beaming back data to Earth on a nearly daily basis. Much of that data would not be easy for most of us to interpret but the images they send back give […]

NH Notes: Mars Takes Another Hit, Wishes it had an Atmosphere Like Earth

Close-up of new impact crater on Mars. Image: JPL/NASA/University of ArizonaI

There is much interest in determining the likelihood of future asteroid and meteorite impacts on Earth.  It is very difficult to estimate the probabilities of such events but we can learn something by looking to one of our solar system neighbors – Mars.  Because the surface of Mars changes so slowly new impacts there can […]

Can You Spot the Difference? The Slowly Changing Surface of Mars

The restaurant kids meal activity "spot the differences"  has many android app versions now including this one by ??.   I expect it would take a keen eye to notice the difference in a 6000 year old photograph of Mars and one taken today.

Below is a picture taken by the Curiosity Rover on Mars last week.  Had you been on Mars 6000 years ago at this very location what do you think it would have seen?  What differences do yo think you could spot between then and now? I have zoomed in on one section of this rock […]

Curiosity Rover Update: Diverse Geological Formations on Mars


The Mars Curiosity Rover continues to make its way through the basin of Gale Crater on Mars.  I’ve provided periodical updates on its progress as it makes its way toward a large mountain in the center of the crater.  For the past six months the rover has not moved much, spending its days using the […]

Global Flood on Mars: Where Did the Water Go?


News of evidence that Mars was once host to a volume of water equivalent of the Arctic ocean on Earth has been hitting the newswires.  This might sound like new news but this is really just a more comprehensive analysis of work that has been ongoing for several years.  Preliminary analysis had already suggested that […]

The Little Rover that Could: Opportunity Thinks it Can for 11 Years on Mars


Eleven years into a three-month primary mission the Opportunity rover is still making discoveries on Mars. Talk about exceeding your specs! That is eleven years of observations of rocks, craters, sand dunes, weather conditions and the occasional glance into the skies to do some astronomy. To celebrate its 11th anniversary the rover has just climbed to […]

Curiosity Rover Update: Driving into a Sedimentary Wonderland on Mars


The Mars Curiosity Rover continues to make its way through the basin of Gale Crater on Mars.  I’ve provided periodical updates on its progress as it makes its way toward a large mountain in the center of the crater.  Recently it has driven down almost 1000 feet to arrive at nearly the lowest elevation point […]

Historical Science and Perceptions of Age: Craters on Mars

A "young" crater on Mars.  This is a young crater about 30 feet (9 meters) in diameter. How young? The blocks of material ejected from the crater-digging impact sit on top of the sand ripples near the crater. This suggests, from the estimated age of the area's sand ripples, that the crater was formed within the past 100,000 years. The dark sand inside the crater attests to the mobility of fine sand in the recent era in this Meridiani Planum region of Mars.  Image credit NASA/JPL-Caltech

Our perceptions of the age of an object are frequently based on our common experience but I have found that for many people those common experiences are of little help when it comes to examining objects for which a person has no experience at all.   A couple of years ago this really hit me as […]

NH Notes: Curiosity Update – Amazing Views Inside A Crater

Curiosity rover wheels after rolling into a portion of a sand dune (sol 527).  Image: JPL/NASA/MSSS

When I last updated you on the excursion that the Curiosity rover has been making across the floor of Gale Crater on Mars I noted that the images it has been beaming back had been getting rather routine.  But the rover has slowly been moving downhill toward what seems more and more likely to have […]

Cosmogenic Dating Methods Allow Estimates of Erosion Rates on Mars

Layers of rock seen at yellowknife bay in Gale Crater of Mars by the Curiosity Rover.  Image: JPL/NASA-Caltech

Just how fast are some rocks on Mars eroding?  A few months ago I asked a Martian rock that question (see: My Interview with a Martian: A Story of Origins) and I was not given a very satisfying answer.  Well, that rock can be excused for being a bit confused about time given how boring […]


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