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Stories, updates, insights, and original analysis from The Planetary Society.

Summary of the fifth MSL landing site selection meeting

Well, after three days of fascinating science and heated discussion, the fifth and final MSL landing site workshop has come to a close, and the consensus is -- that all of the sites are pretty darn interesting.

Zapping Rocks for Science

Laser beams and space exploration are perfect for each other, and not just because all self-respecting starship captains know their way around a blaster. It turns out that zapping rocks with a laser is not only fun, it also can tell you what they're made of!

The 4th MSL Landing Site Workshop: Day 3 - Final Discussion

We wrapped up the landing site workshop on Wednesday afternoon by revisiting each of the four sites and discussing them in turn. Unfortunately, the way that we did this was very disappointing, and made for a frustrating afternoon.

The 4th MSL Landing Site Workshop: Day 3 - Engineering and Safety

With the details of all four landing sites on the table, we started day 3 of the meeting by hearing from the engineers and several scientists about the properties of the ellipses, the risks for landing and the capabilities of the landing system.

The 4th MSL Landing Site Workshop: Day 2 - Mawrth

Today was jam-packed with interesting stuff about Mawrth, Holden, and Eberswalde! I took tons of notes, and I will try to use those to assemble a coherent picture of what was presented and discussed today.

The 4th MSL Landing Site Workshop: Day 2 - Eberswalde

The final site of the four that we discussed yesterday was Eberswalde, which of course is interesting because of the big delta that is preserved in the western part of the crater.

The 4th MSL Landing Site Workshop: Day 2 - Holden

The second site that we discussed yesterday was Holden Crater, a 155 kilometer crater that formed right in the middle of a huge drainage system.

4th MSL Landing Site Workshop: Day 1

Today was the first of a three day workshop in which the Mars science community gathers together and hashes out what we know and what we don't know about the four finalist MSL landing sites.

The 4th MSL Landing Site Workshop

Well folks, I'm off to Pasadena to help the Mars community decide where to send its next rover.

Gale Crater Geomorphology Paper - Published!

Big news folks! The huge paper that I've been working on for the last couple years is finally, unbelievably, published!

Jaded by Mars Organics

So, you may have heard the news making the rounds last week that a new analysis of the Viking data suggests there may actually be organics and (dare I even say it?) life on Mars! Yawn. Consider me underwhelmed.

Molar Tooth Texture

Ok, so remember the weird rock I showed in my Galcier Park geology post?

The Geology of Glacier National Park: Part 1

Well, the field trip is over and I am happy to say that I was not eaten by any bears. They seemed much more interested in the huckleberries.

Is Eberswalde Really a Smoking Gun?

The other day in Mars journal club, we took a look at a paper about the

Big Sky Country

Well folks, I'm headed off to Big Sky Country tomorrow (aka Montana)! I'll start the week at the MSL camera team meeting, where I will get all sorts of cool news about the MastCam, MAHLI and MARDI cameras which I will not be able to share with you.

MSL Roves!

I'm a little late on this, but I thought I should share the news: MSL now has a good head and neck on its shoulders, and has officially

3QD Finalist!

It looks like my MSL: Mars Action Hero post is a finalist in the 3 Quarks Daily science blogging contest. The winners will be chosen by none other than Richard Dawkins.

Full Triple-J Laser Interview

Hey, remember when I was randomly interviewed by the Australian radio station triple j a few weeks ago as part of their feature on the 50th anniversary of the laser?

Talking Lasers on Aussie Radio

Through a crazy random happenstance, I was just interviewed by a friend of a friend of a friend at Australian radio station 'triple j' for a feature on lasers!

MarsSed 2010 Field Trip Day 2: Stromatolites, Gypsum and Layers

We started off Day 2 of the field trip by driving up onto the eroded rocks of what used to be the tidal flats of the ancient reef, between the shore and the continental shelf.

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