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“Adventures of a field geologist on Mars” – Herdman Symposium 2015

Curiosity Self-Portrait at ‘Mojave’ on Mount Sharp

I saw it announced and thought nothing more than “that sounds interesting”: We have all heard about the Curiosity Rover, which landed on Mars in 2012 and, since then,  has uncovered geologic evidence of an environment that may have supported microbial life early in the planet’s history.

I had NOT sat down to consider the time difference between Earth & Mars (A sidereal day on Mars lasts 24 hours 37 minutes and 22 seconds – ie that is the length of time for the planet to rotate once on its axis, compared to the 24 hours on Earth).  Nor had I considered that this time difference (obviously, in hindsight) meant that the lucky scientists working with the robot were on crazy shifts and that any decisions and work undertaken put them under considerable time pressure on a day-to-day basis.  Every move of the robot needs to be planned out in detail, and then run by the engineers (in terms of wear and tear of the robot, capabilities, etc.).

A chorus of oohs and aahs filled the auditorium as the first photos were presented.  Cross-Stratification / Cross-Bedding has NEVER been so exciting!  Evidence of water on Mars!  Simply mind-blowing!

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