Lost Mars Lander Found?

Published January 14, 2015 by ashawnomy

On this Friday, January 16th, 2014, the U.K. Space Agency will be holding a press conference about the Beagle 2 Mars Lander.  Why, you ask?  Good question, I say.  You’re smart.

see caption          Beagle 2 resting on Mars(not a real photograph) All Rights Reserved Beagle 2

Beagle 2 was supposed to touch down gently on the surface of Mars on December 25th, 2003.  It successfully deployed from the Mars Express orbiter on December 19th, 2003, and then, nothing.  Contact was lost and everyone assumed that it did not touch down gently, but probably smashed into the surface of Mars.

Now, all of sudden, some 11 years later, they want to talk about it.  So, again, why?  When looking at the panel of really smart people who will be present, we begin to see why.

The speakers include Beagle 2 Manager Mark Sims; U.K. Space Agency Chief Executive David Parker; Alvaro Giménez Cañete, ESA’s director of science and robotic exploration; and John Bridges, a science team member on NASA’s Curiosity rover and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) missions.

That last guy from NASA, being the key component.  Since they have somebody from a team that is currently operating a rover on Mars, the general consensus is that Curiosity (NASA’s current Mars rover) has found the Beagle 2, or what remains of her.

So, if you are up at 4:15 am on Friday and having nothing better to do, you may be able to find it a webcast of the three hour long new conference somewhere. (At the time of this posting, it wasn’t clear if it would be webcast, much less telling us when and where).  Or, you could just wait for the official announcement that you will hear upon waking Friday morning.  I will post when I hear, for those of you who hang on my every word.


Methane on Mars? Organic Compounds Confound!

Published December 18, 2014 by ashawnomy

Despite the 1930’s news reporter voice (or the announcer for the old Batman TV show), the title of this post alludes to the discovery of organic compounds on Mars, as well as the detection of Methane at different intervals.  There are two discoveries here that are different, but SEEM to point in a specific direction, if correct.

First, the discovery of organic compounds.  Quite simply organic molecules contain Carbon, the basic element of life. All Earth-bound life is carbon based.  The fact that they are finding evidence of Carbon at least gives us the idea that some of the building blocks of life are present in the Martian soil.

Second, the detection of Methane spikes over a 20 month period is interesting.  On Earth, Methane is primarily produced by living things, although not always.  When you pass gas, you are release Methane into the air.  Microorganisms produce Methane as an energy source, called methanogenesis.  It can also be produced without the presence of life through a process called serpentinization.  This process involves water, carbon dioxide, and a mineral called olivine, commonly found on Mars.  The rover, Curiosity, was detecting these spikes at different times and in different places.  Those of us who like to believe that aliens are farting, will believe that aliens are farting . . . for now.

There is nothing definitive here, and the sample time is not long enough to be conclusive of anything, but it does lend to the idea that between the present organic Carbon compounds, the sporadic bursts of Methane, combined with the presence of polar ice caps, mixed with the discovery of ancient water on Mars, paints an interesting picture.  What happened there?  Could we simply be relatives of some old Martian bacteria?  We may be closer to finding out!

Lander Precariously Sitting on Comet

Published November 13, 2014 by ashawnomy

Rosetta Lander is now sitting, 2 legs on land, 1 up in the air, on Comet 67P.  That’s pretty cool.  Below is a link to a great cartoon explanation found on slooh.com.  It starts about 4 minutes in and lasts for about 3 minutes and is wonderful!  Definitely worth showing to your kids if you have them!


Rocket Launch From Virginia Tomorrow @ 6:22 PM

Published October 27, 2014 by ashawnomy

The rocket launch scheduled for Monday evening from Wallops Island, VA was scrubbed due to a boat nearby.  Anyway, it is rescheduled for Tuesday evening at 6:45 pm.  If you live on the East Coast of the United States, you should be able to see it streaking across the sky.

Look southeast and look for the bright thing moving fast.  This is the VERY FIRST nighttime launch from Wallop’s Island and we are not exactly certain what to expect.  You should definitely take the time to watch.  Go to the site below for more information.



Open Doors for Our Daughters

Published October 27, 2014 by ashawnomy

I know how cliched this may sound at this point, but a recent blog post I read brought it up again.  They mentioned that they had found a Lego set that included 3 female scientists.  I thought how cool this was, and why this doesn’t “just happen”.  I know plenty of female scientists in real life, and know that many of them receive their due accolades (many, of course, still do not).

I love science and nature and the outdoors.  I am raising my children to love the same.  I have a son and a daughter and I try not to treat them differently when it comes to what they like and what they want to do.  Of course, my three year old daughter will be a princess for Halloween this year (she has also been an owl and a dinosaur).  My son will don yet another ninja incarnation.

It is VERY hard to find a Lego set for a girl that doesn’t involve ice cream or a beauty salon.  When I heard about this set with three female scientists, I immediately went to Amazon to see if I could find one.  I found it.  It was $90.  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t that far off of what a normal set costs, but this is the only one I have found that shows women doing something great for humanity.

When doing a search for Lego females, here is what I found, not including the set we’ve been talking about:  a woman warrior, a viking woman, numerous Wonder Woman’s, cave woman, numerous Cat Woman’s, a Dino Tracker (who has a crossbow and looks mad), etc.  I think you get my point.

To be fair, when doing a search for Lego scientists, not a whole lot pops up, either.  But a trip to the Lego aisle proves it is a male dominated world.

I just want her to know about Jocelyn Bell (discovered pulsars), Cecila Payne (figured out that stars were made primarily of Hydrogen), or Annie Jump Cannon (helped classify stars according to spectra).  She can do whatever she wants, I just want her to know that every door is open and every star reachable.