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Curiosity heads south

After four years of southwest travel to skirt a large dune field at the base of Mount Sharp, Curiosity has finally turned due south to aim directly up the mountain.

“Now that we’ve skirted our way around the dunes and crossed the plateau, we’ve turned south to climb the mountain head-on,” said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. “Since landing, we’ve been aiming for this gap in the terrain and this left turn. It’s a great moment for the mission.”

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

 
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

 
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

 
Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

One comment

  • LocalFluff

    I wonder if it will ever reach that valley/canyon. The ancient layered rocks there was the motivation for picking its landing site, but since the landing they don’t seem important at all. The Mars 2020 rover (which I hope will not become the Mars 2020s rover with launch 2029) is equiped to collect small drill core samples. But imagine how many years it will take for it, with its Curiosity architecture, to collect them. A mission to land and collect them could be done no earlier than a decade later. I think the sample collection equipment is an overambitious fantasy that should be replaced with a useful science intrument instead. The Oxie-thing to extract oxygen from the atmosphere is also just a waste of valuable and rare payload mass. I am afraid the Mars 2020 rover is set to be even less productive than MSL sloth.

    Rovers on Mars need big solar panels, maybe held up by a mast and wires like sails on a ship but to turn toward the Sun instead of to the wind, and be commanded from Earth every 10 to 40 minutes instead of once every 25 hours.

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