Something pretty cool

Yesterday I received this email from my boss:

“here’s the powerpoint from today’s telecon, shows which orbits they used from our new target (the ones in red are not used).

– J”

The J is for Jack. There’s nothing cool about it until you know more information. First what is contained in the Powerpoint

  • Kasei Valles (new target)
    • Priority 1:
    • 9492
    • 9512 roll
    • Priority 2:
    • 9505
    • 9525 roll


What you see is a list of 4 observations that will be made in the next orbits of a satellite around Mars. What’s cool is that I chose a new object (system of objects) and the orbits to observe them. Of my initial 6, 4 were deemed worthy by the team of scientists. The two red ones have instrumental conflicts with other pieces of equipment and will have to be taken at some other time. The two black ones though: 9492 and 9525 will be done. What doest this mean? That means there will be something about Mars that no one else in the world knows. I’ll be the first person to analyze this section which about the size of Colorado or double that of England! I’m pretty excited about it.

The instrument I’m using and that my boss is a team member of is SHARAD, and it’s on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter along with a lot of other equipment. SHARAD means Shallow Subsurface Radar. It is basically ground and ice penetrating Radar that we’re using to look for sedimental layers of ice or deposit. Usually we look at the poles where there is a lot of ice and lots of information to be had. Since that project is going and has been going for a long time I wanted to start with something new. There is a valley called Kasei Valles, dry now but once it had lots of water flowing through it, around 30deg North that hadn’t been observed. You should check out the link.

Here is an elevation map of that are with boxes approximately near where we’ll be looking. We’re looking in the darker green area just and east of the boxes.

Kasei Valles

I’m going into a lot of detail for something we only know a little about. What I hope to find there is ice below the surface or evidence of river deposits as it flowed millions of years ago. Ice is less likely since this part of Mars doesn’t stay especially cold, but it is possible below a certain depth due to higher pressure from the ground above. It may be too deep for the Radar, but we’ll see soon.

Anyway, this is the kind of thing I’ll be doing for my Doctoral Thesis. It will take me several years of analysis and learning to even attempt a dissertation, but this is a good start. I think it’s “way cool”

Lots of stuff to talk about

I have.  Trip back from Michigan, going to see Forrest, Liquid Helium Transfer into the magnetometer.  Plus other things that are going on.  I’ll get to it one day soon!   Been afraid to even visit my own blog recently.  That’s neglect and shame for you.

Crosscountry trip!

Well, it’s not a cross country trip, more like a top to bottom. Stephanie and I are flying to Detroit tomorrow. Detroit is across the water from Canada, and Austin is only a few hours from Mexico. So I’m going from Canada to almost Mexico.

We’ll be driving back in a jeep her grandmother is going to give her. This should be fun, but I’d rather have my motorcycle, much rather. Well, I’ve got to pack and get ready. I haven’t been typing much, but there are still plenty of stories rolling around in here, and like a deep wound they are festering. The plan is to fly to Detroit, take a train to Battle Creek Michigan, and drive back in the jeep through St. Louis and Dallas. She and I will both see family and friends on the way back. Should be a good trip; I’m only worried about how cold it will be up north. 80 degrees…. burrrrr

Work is good, and school starts in August. I’m looking forward to that. The Antarctica trip is still in the works, but I expect it to happen. You know how government agencies can be.   Not sure what else to say, so type atcha soon.

Thank you Nanci Pelosi

Now, I’m not trying to get political here. I just wanted to say that there is an issue that needed to be addressed, and it has been.

Today I learned that federal student loans would see a decrease in interest rate over the next few years. That is fantastic news. Coming from this perspective, it is very difficult to manage all of your bills once first graduating from college – especially when those loans finally hit. Now, I knew that it would take a long time to pay them off – and it will, believe me, but high interest rates just make it harder.

And someone answer me this please, why is it cheaper to buy a car than go to college? Doesn’t that send the wrong message to would be students? How is it you can get 0% interest (maybe not this summer) on a new car that you shouldn’t be buying anyway but federal loans are upwards of 7%? Well, no longer I am proud to say. For the last two years I blamed Nanci Pelosi for going back on her promise to reduce interest rates on loans, and it finally came through.

Before I go too far, I should mention that this doesn’t affect me personally, since my loans are mostly private, but I feel it is a good thing all around and will lead private companies to do the right thing.

My Source