Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Arctic Mars

NASA’s Phoenix probe landed successfully in the polar region of Mars and a very cool person had a birthday today. Of course, I only got to look at pictures of either event. It’s not like I’d ever get to be there or anything. Typical. Ces’t la vie.

The Phoenix Probe is also pretty cool and, as the icy soil is scraped into the probe’s ovens, it will be heated and maybe, just maybe, some organic vapors will be detected. I’m sure astrobiologists everywhere are glued to the internet right now.

Here’s a funny note. When I applied to graduate school I only applied to one place. It took them so long to respond after the interview, I got worried and decided I better send in an application somewhere else too in case I got turned down. So I applied to the Astrobiology Program at the University of Washington because I thought it would be really awesome to build a career in a relatively new and exotic field. Alas, I don’t think I had enough microbiology or oceanographic experience to impress them but it was totally worth the $25 just to say I applied to an astrobiology program. Back then my interest in astrobiology was in verifying or nullifying the presence of frozen microbes or biologic constituents on the surface of Europa. In preparation for an interview, which I never got, I even spent a couple of weeks designing a probe for just such an expedition. Sure, the surface is made of ice, but at those temperatures its as hard as granite. In fact, I wanted to soundly determine whether there really was a fluid ocean or not. I’m sure my probe design was pretty rudimentary but I learned a lot nonetheless.

- Just a peasant
Photo from NASA TV website


Blogger neda said...

dude where are you!

2:36 PM  
Anonymous just a peasant said...

I'm here. I was busy moving back to Oregon. Where are you?

10:48 AM  

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