Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Calling all Martians

Maybe it's for the best the shuttle program is winding down:

To prevent another catastrophe, NASA will replace braking mechanisms on all its space shuttles after discovering some of the gears were installed backward.

"Bottom line is, it was not good," Parsons said.

Not good at all. "The maker of the rudder speed brake mechanisms . . . now has better quality control." Better late than never.

Tuesday we learned that Mars didn't just have water, it had a pool of water:

The sediments that bonded together to form the rocks were shaped into ripples by water that stood at least two inches deep, said mission science team member John Grotzinger of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The water flowed over the site at an estimated four to 20 inches per second, Grotzinger said.

[MIT — that's baby Helena's alma mater by the way.]

Today's news report is not new, but it is more poetic:

A salty pool of liquid water once sloshed on Mars, ebbing and flowing in an environment that could have supported life eons before a NASA spacecraft visited the now dry and frozen spot, the space agency said.

See the original press release on the JPL site.

Have I ranted about how inadequate the NASA, JPL, Mars Mission websites are? Cuz they really are very poorly designed. I don't think they have any idea who visits them, or why. It's damn near impossible to find what you're looking for.

The sidebar should include the time on Mars (OK, that's there), the weather (the temperature, that is — does Mars have "weather" to speak of?), a current map (showing "Opportunity is here"), and the day's agenda (studies the rovers are undertaking as well as related events on Earth, such as press conferences). How hard is that?

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